As everyone who’s gay and/or cares about movies knows, Bette Davis vs. Joan Crawford was the real Godzilla vs. King Kong–a lifelong war between two movie icons battling it out for roles, closeups, and mutual torture opportunities.
It figures that their big late-life teaming, the 1962 Granny Guignol classic What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?–which was on TCM last night–had Bette being sadistic to crippled Joan because Joan had been rotten to her all those years back.
Well, take the lid off your steamed rat and enjoy what Davis is quoting as saying about her bitter rival in Elizabeth Fuller‘s immensely enjoyable book, Me and Jezebel:
“Every time Crawford got near me, I could feel her trying to annihilate me!
“She hay-ayted being Number Two.
“The only thing I regret is that I didn’t get to slap her around more in Baby Jane.
“Whenever a scene called for me to belt her, she had [director] Aldrich bring in her double.
“When we shot the scene where I had to carry her…the bitch weighted herself down with a lead belt!
“I almost broke my fucking back.
“Worse, in the scene where the old broad was croaking on the beach, she strapped on a pair of falsies that made her look like the Hollywood Hills.
“Can you imagine a pair of giant tits jutting up toward the sky on someone who for years was supposed to have been wasting away?”
Bette claimed that when she had to fall on top of Joan, the huge titties knocked the breath out of her, thereby destroying her front too.
What’s more, Bette said that beach scene was shot indoors because Joan had it in her contract that everything had to be 50 degrees at all times.
“If your body is saturated with booze,” said Bette, “you perspire in the heat. Vodka was Joan Crawford’s life support system!”
Otherwise, she liked her a lot.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 12, 2012