Feud ūüėí Bette and Joan -Whatever Happened?

Feud

 

Bette Davis is at the top of my list of incredible actresses of classic film and her infamous relationship with Joan Crawford is legendary. So, when I heard Ryan Murphy’s 2017 series¬†“Feud” was recreating their tumultuous battles in the film¬†“Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” I had to check it out. Susan Sarandon¬†(Davis) and Jessica Lange¬†(Crawford) bring back old Hollywood and pull back the layers of the complexity between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.

 

 

Director Robert Aldrich’s cult classic “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane” (1962) is brilliant! It’s not fair, but to the powers that be, women in Hollywood age but men are considered “salt n pepper” hot. Aldrich’s production capitalized on the star power of the “past their prime” celebrated divas and the result is a glimpse into the real-life feud between the stars.

 

Bette Davis (L) Joan Crawford (R)

 

Not to be too biasedūüėĄ¬†but, Ms. Davis literally kicked Joan’s behind! Crawford was way over her head onscreen and off as Bette outperformed and out strategized her nemesis. Bette is my hero because she took on roles other actresses wouldn’t touch because of their image.

 

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Bette Davis in “Of Human Bondage”

 

She wasn’t afraid to go there and if the role required her to look unattractive she was game. An original in a class by herself, in “Of Human Bondage” (1934) her appearance was shocking to audiences of the time as she portrayed a callous woman dying of tuberculosis; not a pretty sight.

 

 

“What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” is a 1962 American psychological thriller-horror film¬†produced and directed by Robert Aldrich, starring Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, about an aging actress who holds her paraplegic sister captive in an old Hollywood mansion.

 

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Alfred Molina as Aldrich (L)   Robert Aldrich (R)

The screenplay by Lukas Heller is based on the 1960 novel of the same name by Henry Farrell. Upon the film’s release, it was met with widespread critical and box office acclaim and was later nominated for five Academy Awards, winning one for Best Costume Design, Black and White. (Wikipedia)

 

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Bette Davis (L)  Joan Crawford (R)

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Susan Sarandon (L)  Jessica Lange (R)

In true Bette Davis fashion, she came up with her own makeup for the role. She said that Jane was someone who never washed her face but just added more makeup.

In “Whatever Happened…” The young neighbor was played by Davis’ daughter B. D. Merrill who, followed in the footsteps of Joan Crawford’s daughter Christina, and wrote a scathing memoir, “My Mother’s Keeper”, that depicted her mother in a harsh light. However, unlike Christina who waited until after Crawford’s death to publish “Mommie Dearest”, B.D. published hers in 1985 while Davis was still alive but in poor health.

 

"Feud"

B.D (Davis’ daughter-L) ¬† Kiernan Shipka portrays B.D in “Feud”

 

It was an open secret that Davis and Crawford loathed each other, and filming was contentious as their real-life hatred for one another spilled over into the production, and even after filming had wrapped.

 

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The film’s success spawned a succession of horror/thriller films featuring psychotic older women, later dubbed the psycho-biddy subgenre, among them Aldrich’s Hush‚Ķ Hush, Sweet Charlotte, What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice? and What’s the Matter with Helen?. It was parodied by the Italian comedy film What Ever Happened to Baby Toto?¬†(Wikipedia)

Shaun Considine’s 1989 book Bette and Joan: The Divine Feud chronicles the actresses’ rivalry, including their experience shooting this film.

 

 

Both Bette Davis and Joan Crawford had incredible and challenging careers and personal lives. If I’ve peaked your interest and you’d like to learn more, check out this eye-opening documentary.

 

 

 

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Hedonistic Fantasy – Careful What You Wish For‚Ěó

Seconds

 

My question is, would you? If you could? Drop out of this life and assume another; start a new journey as a “Second”. Arthur makes the decision to do just that and enters a psychedelic world of appropriating another’s reality, someone else’s truth so, be careful what you wish for,¬†some dreams can become your nightmare.

 

“Seconds” is a 1966 American science fiction drama film directed by John Frankenheimer and starring Rock Hudson. The screenplay by Lewis John Carlino was based on Seconds, a novel by David Ely.¬†The film was entered into the 1966 Cannes Film Festival and released by Paramount Pictures.¬†The cinematography by James Wong Howe was nominated for an Academy Award. (Wikipedia)

 

 

“Seconds” is a mystery dealing with the obsession with eternal youth and a mysterious organization which gives people a second chance in life.

Arthur Hamilton (John Randolph) is a middle-aged man whose life has lost purpose. He’s achieved success¬†but finds it unfulfilling. His love for his wife has dwindled and he seldom sees his only child. Through a friend, a man he thought was dead, Hamilton is approached by a secret organization, known simply as the “Company” which offers him a new life. (Wikipedia)

 

 

When much of American pop culture was infatuated with the swinging, psychedelic 1960s, Director John Frankenheimer was focused on the decade‚Äôs darker side‚ÄĒthe sour aftertaste of McCarthyism, the expanding military-industrial complex, the growing sense that technology might be controlling us instead of the other way around.

 

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John Frankenheimer

Of his eleven theatrical films made during this period, none is more chilling or prescient than 1966‚Äôs “Seconds”, the third and crowning chapter of what‚Äôs now known as Frankenheimer‚Äôs paranoia trilogy.

 

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Frankenheimer had a gift for capturing the zeitgeist, and in the first two installments of his paranoia trilogy, he had already taken on some of postwar America’s most emotionally charged topics: brainwashing, commie-bashing, and political assassination in The Manchurian Candidate (1962), about a man hypnotically programmed to kill, and then nuclear dread, Cold War anxiety, and neofascist skullduggery in Seven Days in May (1964), about a military plot to seize the American government. (David Sterritt)

 

Seven Days in May theatrical release poster

 

From the surreal¬†opening titles designed by Saul Bass, atmospheric¬†soundtrack by Jerry Goldsmith to the terrifying horror ending, “Seconds” feels queasy¬†with a very real sense of paranoia evoked by James Wong Howe’s vision of a fantasy turned on its end.

Audiences¬†weren’t ready for it in 1966 but the film has since become a cult classic. I highly recommend checking it out; a whole lotta food for thought.

In 2015, the United States Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the National Film Registry, finding it “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

 

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Saturday Monster Madness!ūüėĪ

Ladies and gentlemen, just a word of warning. If any of you are not convinced that you have a tingler of your own, the next time you’re frightened in the dark… don’t scream. Dr. Warren Chapin “The Tingler”

 

The Tingler

Vincent Price (Dr. Warren Chapin)

I maybe just a wee bit set in my ways, but the day of the week dictates my movie viewing genre. Monday thru Friday are pretty wide open, however, Saturday and Sunday must stick to my particular criteria. Saturday afternoon is definitely B-horror/Sci-fi flicks and Sunday is reserved for Melodrama film classics.

If you’ve read my About Page you know that as a kid the Saturday Matinee had a big influence on my love of B-horror/Sci-fi movies and William Castle.

The Blob, The Incredible Shrinking Man and The Tingler. Now that’s good stuff!

 

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 The Blob (1958)

The Blob, directed by Irvin Yeaworth, was Steve McQueen’s first leading role before he got his own TV series – Wanted: Dead or Alive (1959). McQueen was called “The King of Cool” and starred in such popular films as The¬†Magnificent Seven and The Thomas Crown Affair. He received an Academy Award nomination for his role as Jake Holman in The Sand Pebbles.

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Steve McQueen “King of Cool”

The Blob plot revolves around what happens when an old man pokes a stick at a piece of meteor and it cracks open releasing an oozy substance that starts to crawl up the stick. He tries to shake it off but ends up with “the blob” all over his hand. (This is why you don’t poke at things that drop from the sky. Yeesh!)

Steve (also his character name) and his girl Jane, after almost hitting the old man who has run onto the road, take him to the local doctor. Cutting to the chase: while Steve and Jane ( Aneta Corsaut, who eventually plays Andy Griffith’s TV girlfriend Helen) leave the doc’s office to look for clues to what’s on the old man’s hand, The Blob absorbs the old man, the doc and his nurse. Next thing you know it’s at the midnight horror movie. Cue the fleeing and screaming and holy crap how do we stop it. Phew, that was exhausting.

The theme song, written by Burt Bacharach and Mack David (who wrote some of the top hits of the sixties) is a catchy little gem. “It creeps and leaps and glides and slides across the floor…beware of the blob.” Here it is:

The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) 

The Incredible Shrinking Man

Directed by Jack Arnold

I’ve watched this movie a hundred times and the ending always makes me cry. This thought provoking Science Fiction classic taps into an anxiety of meaning in life and what exactly is the meaning of life. Scott Carey (Grant Williams) is dusted by a radioactive mist while on a boating vacation with his wife Louise (Randy Stuart). A few weeks later he starts to notice his clothes are fitting looser and he also appears to be losing height. After visiting a specialist, it is confirmed that he is indeed shrinking.

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Grant Williams

Reduced to living in a dollhouse and eventually fighting for his life against the cat and then a tarantula living in the basement of the family home, Scott finally shrinks to an infinitesimal size, entering the realm of the unknown.

For me, this movie is so much more than just another Saturday afternoon B-Movie flick. The closing monolog makes the point by concluding that¬†no matter how small, we still matter in the universe because, to God, “there is no zero.”

The film won the first Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation¬†in 1958 by the World Science Fiction Convention.¬†In 2009 it was named to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being ‚Äúculturally, historically or aesthetically‚ÄĚ significant and will be preserved for all time. (Wikipedia)

 

The Tingler

Producer/Director William Castle delivers his finest in The Tingler (1959), his third collaboration with writer Robb White. The film stars the incomparable Vincent Price as Pathologist, Dr. Warren Chapin who researches and discovers the existence of The Tingler.

“Percepto” is my favorite William Castle gimmick. There comes a time in the movie when the Tingler (a parasite that feeds on fear) is loose in the theater and to save your life you need to scream! For grins, in select seats in the theaters, Castle placed the “Percepto” system which made the seat vibrate to simulate the feeling of fear you feel in your body when The Tingler strikes.

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Man do I wish I could have been there in 1959 when The Tingler attacks the projectionist, the film strip breaks and The Tingler appear on the screen. If that’s not enough, the lights go out and you hear the voice of Vincent Price declaring that The Tingler is loose in the theater so scream, scream for your life! Awesome!!

Just think of it, being in the movie theater watching The Tingler scene and ending up participating in the experience in your “Percepto” seat, with lights out and the sound of Price’s voice. I love it!!!

Break out the popcorn and let me know your faves in the comments.

Favorite Trailers That Make The Cut!ūüé¨

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I was working on a post the other day and the TV show Nothing but Trailers was on in the background. It got me thinking about some of my all-time favorites and what constitutes a great trailer.

First of all, it can’t just be a series of scenes from the movie. That really irks me! What’s the point of me going if you’ve already given me your best shots? Just lazy.

An excellent trailer peaks your curiosity¬†gets your heart stirring and demands that you’re first in line to see it. An incredible trailer gives you minimal information but builds the anticipation with atmospheric music, punctuation¬†shots, and an ending that¬†elicits the core emotion of the film.

This is the criteria I applied to the following trailers and is the basis for them being some of the most memorable.

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Number One has got to be the 1979¬†sci-fi classic – Alien. “In space, no one can hear you scream.”

Starring Sigourney¬†Weaver, director Ridley Scott scared the crap out of me and the little boy sitting in front of me at the theater. Oh, and to make matters worse, I was pregnant at the time. Yikes! (if you’ve seen it you understand, if you haven’t, what?? You must!) And my girl Sigourney Weaver showed the world what a badass woman in space looks like.

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Sigourney Weaver

This is the epitome of an incredible trailer. Little bits and moments and truly haunting music. My heart was racing and I had no idea of what I’d just seen.

The visuals were outstanding! There was absolutely¬†nothing familiar in the images coming off the screen.¬†The Alien and its accompanying elements were designed by Swiss surrealist artist H. R. Giger. (I don’t know how he slept with those images in his head) The film¬†received both critical acclaim and box office success, receiving an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.

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Number Two is the sci-fi thriller –The Dark Knight¬†(2008) – “Why So Serious?”

First of all, Heath Ledger. Second of all, Heath Ledger!! Even in the trailer, his intensity shines thru. He draws you in and you’re compelled to see more. His Oscar-winning¬†performance was incredible and the most talked about that year.

Ledger¬†almost made a¬†complete sweep of over twenty awards for acting, including the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actor, the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor ‚Äď Motion Picture, and the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.

Heath Ledger

Unfortunately, we lost him, but his genius as The Joker lives on. Starring Christian Bale as the caped crusader and directed by Christopher Nolan, when I saw this trailer I knew where I was going to be on opening night. Totally lived up to the hype.

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Last, but certainly not least of this compilation is the original master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock’s¬†– Psycho (1960)¬†“…she just goes a little mad sometimes.”

This trailer shows Alfred Hitchcock taught the world just how horror is done. Fits every criterion for an incredible movie trailer and then some. Starring Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins, my heart is racing right now re-visiting this magnificent piece of cinema.

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Sir Alfred Hitchcock – (13 August 1899 ‚Äď 29 April 1980)

Hitch’s stylistic trademarks include the use of camera movement that mimics a person’s gaze,¬†forcing viewers to engage in a form of voyeurism.¬†In addition, he framed shots to maximize anxiety, fear, or empathy¬†and used innovative forms of film editing. (Wikipedia)

To quote me, “An incredible trailer gives you minimal information but builds the anticipation with atmospheric music, punctuation¬†shots, and an ending that¬†elicits the core emotion of the film.”

An unquestionable classic!

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Now that I’ve shared some of my faves, I’d love to hear some of yours! ūüėé

 

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