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Who Was More Untalented: Bette Davis or Joan Crawford

A recent viewing of "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" convinced me that if the Razzies had existed in 1962, Bette and Joan's performances would've seemed like a competition for Worst Actress. Was either one ever delusional enough to consider herself a peer of Katharine Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman, or Barbara Stanwyck?

by 50?reply 16811/09/2015

Bette Davis irritates me so much I don't enjoy many of her movies. And even I don't question her talent or star quality.

by 50?reply 106/17/2011

Hard to say ... both are mealy-mouthed crotch pheasants.

by 50?reply 206/17/2011

Not to mention mentally ill, r2.

by 50?reply 306/17/2011

less talented not more untalented

by 50?reply 406/17/2011

Team Bette. Siempre. But I do have some Joan Crawford films I just love to death.

by 50?reply 506/17/2011

When she was young, Joan was really excellent. She's brilliant in "Grand Hotel." Then she became a "Grand lady." Bette was never much of an actress, always played herself, but she had razor sharp timing, much better than Joan's.

by 50?reply 606/17/2011

Davis is playing to a balcony on the planet Mars in this one. She's nothing close to the peerless actress she had been; Milton Berle never mugged as blantantly as she does in this one.

by 50?reply 706/17/2011

More or less untalented?

by 50?reply 806/17/2011

I won't participate in this wanton display of sacrilege! -- 45%

by 50?reply 906/17/2011

Bette Davis is the best actress of the bunch.%0D %0D I say that even though Katherine Hepburn is a personal favorite. (KH was a stage actress who provided remarkable star presence in films that need such.)%0D %0D Davis range, especially in her prime, was remarkable.%0D %0D Compare any three movies made roughly at the same time... say, OF HUMAN BONDAGE... PETRIFIED FOREST and IT'S LOVE I'M AFTER... regardless the quality of the film BD is terrific and varied.%0D %0D But all these ladies are great... why rank them? Just enjoy the best of what each has to offer %0D %0D (I'd always hoped BD and KH would get around to playing together as the aunts in ARSENIC AND OLD LACE. They would have challenged each other to up their game. Big fan of both.)%0D %0D

by 50?reply 1006/17/2011

[quote]Bette Davis is the best actress of the bunch.

What bunch? The thread is only about two people, Davis and Crawford.

by 50?reply 1106/17/2011

Hepburn couldn't stand Davis, r10. She considered her common. Talented, but common.

by 50?reply 1206/17/2011

[R11], OP included Katharine Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman and Barbara Stanwyck in the comparison. I'd say that makes a bunch.

by 50?reply 1306/17/2011

Imagine how horrible Davis would have been in "Double Indemnity." She didn't have the range of Stanwyck or the appeal of Hepburn.%0D %0D But she was still pretty wonderful. It's astonishing that people talk about the mechanical Streep as if she's the equal of the golden age performers.

by 50?reply 1406/17/2011

Stanwyck was a better actress than Davis, and Bergman was her equal at least.

by 50?reply 1506/17/2011

Joan wasn't really an actress, she was someone who knew how to GRAB your attention! %0D %0D Bette was the real deal, and she was always very good, or very entertaining. Sure, she went over the top and beyond by a few light-years sometimes, but she was never boring.

by 50?reply 1606/17/2011

Stanwyck got robbed of the Oscar too many times. A lot of her early 30s stuff was godawful - look at how wooden she is in Baby Face and The Purchase Price. But sometime after Stella Dallas, she really turned up the heat in her acting ability.

by 50?reply 1706/17/2011

I don't think Barbara Stanwyck ever got the due she deserved as an actress. Partly because she was typecast as a hardboiled dame so often... %0D %0D I learned that Stanwyck was under contract to complete the film of ON GOLDEN POND should anything prevent Hepburn from doing that film.%0D %0D While I am glad to have Hepburn and Fonda on film together, I think Stanwyck would have been a marvelous Ethel... tender and steely.%0D

by 50?reply 1806/17/2011

Jane Fonda wanted Hepburn because she felt her name was more box office...

by 50?reply 1906/17/2011

Little known fact: Bette Davis was the nude model for one of the most famous bronzes in Central Park.

by 50?reply 2006/17/2011

Hepburn went on record as saying she liked Davis, but the two really didn't know one another at all. Hard to believe Hepburn thought of Davis as "common," since they were both New Englanders who came from the same class background.

by 50?reply 2106/17/2011

this one?

by 50?reply 2206/17/2011

Both actresses expressed mutual admiration for each other multiple times in interviews. I think they meant it. For the record, I think Hepburn was the better of the two, but not by a great margin. What I'd like to know is why does Murl have such a great reputation--good actress, but definitely not one of the greats.

by 50?reply 2306/18/2011

Neither of them betrayed any talent when it came to sucking my dick.

by 50?reply 2406/18/2011

Davis and Stanwyck were true and versatile actresses. Hepburn had a magnetic personality and Crawford was a self-willed mannequin.

by 50?reply 2506/18/2011

I can watch Bette Davis movies in her late 30's-early 40's prime-and believe she is the character and forget that I am watching Bette Davis, the actress, in a role (for instance-contrast Julie Marsden with Charlotte Vale with Regina Giddons). I am always aware that I am watching Joan Crawford acting in a role. Stanwyck is even worse-same broad, different picture.

by 50?reply 2606/18/2011

Bette Davis, all the way. I have never seen anything with her in it that wasn't at least interesting. K Hepburn never impressed me. Alright but way overrated. Wasn't hard to get distracted while watching her. And Joan Crawford and Stanwyck never even came close.

by 50?reply 2706/18/2011

Katharine Hepburn OP?%0D %0D The woman was great at playing herself. But have you seen "Dragon Seed"?

by 50?reply 2806/18/2011

I hate Kate Hepburn. She is the most overrated actress ever.

by 50?reply 2906/18/2011

R26 must watch TCM from a crack house. Stanwyck was awesome. Only now does she seem to get the accolades that eluded her before. I have shown several Stanwyck flicks to my friends who drink the Davis/Crawford/Hepburn kool-aid, and they are amazed at how good and natural she could be, especially in the 1940s. I can't take anything away from the other three, they all impressed me in their own way, but Stanwyck was the least mannered or pretentious of them all.

by 50?reply 3006/18/2011

Stanwyck was the queen. I like her best when she lets her chorus line past show. Of all the greats who rose from nothing, she is the most willing to use that low-rent background and does so to great effect.%0D %0D

by 50?reply 3106/18/2011

Joan wasn't really an actress- she acted like she was acting. Bette was a real actress but got better as she got older. Her Baby Jane performance is heartbreaking at times- don't know why some consider it camp.%0D %0D They're both fun to watch- from Oscar stuff to the not-so-classy stuff. What would Hollywood be without them?

by 50?reply 3206/18/2011

One thing I consider when evaluating the talent/skill level of actors is their range. I adore Bette. But honestly, she didn't ever exhibit much range in her characters. She played variations of the same character all the time. The same goes for Crawford. %0D %0D I think they were equal talents, but I blame the H'wood system at that time for limiting them, and a lot of other actors in terms of the roles they played.%0D %0D I guess the operating theory was that when people go to the movies they want to see Bette Davis, or Joan Crawford, or Henry Fonda, or Spencer Tracy. %0D %0D While the settings changed, the characterizations never did. There's not a whole lot of difference in Davis' interpretation her characters whether it's Dark Victory, All About Eve, Jezebel, or Now, Voyager.

by 50?reply 3306/18/2011

[quote]I say that even though Katherine Hepburn is a personal favorite. (KH was a stage actress who provided remarkable star presence in films that need such.)%0D %0D Hepburn did have stage/screen presence, and was an interesting person off stage/screen, but she's at best an adequate actress, and too often a most inadequate one.

by 50?reply 3406/18/2011

Testify R31. I love Barbara. Maybe because she also had this underdog quality about her persona. She was not a diva in the true sense of the word. Never OTT in her private life like the so-called "troika", or in her films either. And it seems that every time that she got an Oscar nod, someone was always a bit better. Although I think she should have won for "Stella Dallas" over Luise Rainier in "The Good Earth" in 1937, and definitely for "Double Indemnity" over Ingrid Bergman for "Gaslight" in 1944. Her characters were seldom sympathetic, especially in her Oscar-nom'd performances.

by 50?reply 3506/18/2011

Joan was the weakest of that group of 5. Davis had a much wider range, and really was a better actress in drama, than Hepburn. Hepburn was better at comedy than Davis, though I wouldn't call either of them great comediennes. Stanwyck early in her career was certainly on par with Davis, but then she solidified into "Miss Barbara Stanwyck". And yes, Davis' performance in "Baby Jane" was absolutely brilliant.

by 50?reply 3606/18/2011

I aggree with the old Hollywood system limiting the type of roles they let their actors play. I like Bergman a lot, but the same could be said for her being typecast. I read she was getting bored by the roles she was being offered by the late 40's, and that was one of the reasons she wanted to work with Rosselini. She was ready to leave Hollywood for awhile (she obviously did not plan on a 8 year forced exile.)

by 50?reply 3706/18/2011

Girl, if you want to talk about untalented, John Wayne more than owns this thread.

by 50?reply 3806/18/2011

r32, I totally agree. I consider Baby Jane Hudson to be one of Bette Davis%E2%80%99 best performances for the reason you cited. Her character was heartbreaking at times. That close-up, facial expression, and slow head turn as it starts to register when Blanche is confessing what really happened the night of the accident is to me the best scene of the film and sooo Bette. She had those distinctive eyes and she knew how to make her whole face speak for her. That%E2%80%99s a great actress. Think about JEZEBEL when Henry Fonda tells her character she%E2%80%99s married. The husband%E2%80%99s death scene in THE LITTLE FOXES works so well because the whole scene is registered through Regina%E2%80%99s face. I could go on and on.

Bette is my favorite actress of all time but that%E2%80%99s taking nothing away from Katherine Hepburn, who I adore. Bette%E2%80%99s performance as Margo Channing in ALL ABOUT EVE and Kate%E2%80%99s performance as Eleanor of Aquitaine in THE LION IN WINTER are both in my top 5 of all time favorite female film performances.

I love both Joan Crawford and Barbara Stanwyck as well. Like Bette, Joan could do a lot with her face. Her, in my opinion, well deserved Oscar winning performance in MILDRED PIERCE was very subtle yet very powerful. I think to thread that line, and to thread it as well as Joan did in most of her best performances, is quite the talent.

by 50?reply 3906/18/2011

Joan should have been nominated for "Humoresque", one of the best love stories ever...the ending gave me goose bumps. I thought "Mildred Pierce" was an overrated POS, besides, Ann Blyth stole the movie out from under her.

My favorite Hepburn performance had to be "Summertime", where she was at her least mannered and most vulnerable. The location of Venice also made it a highlight. "Woman of the Year" was also great, although the ending is offensively sexist. She could be hammy in some films, and yeah, her personality is stronger than her acting.

I thought Stanwyck was at her best in "The Lady Eve", and should have been nominated for that instead of the inferior "Ball of Fire". Even if her British accent was a bit off, her timing was exquisite in it. "Remember the Night" was an underrated holiday classic that should have received more attention than it did. Her performances tend to be better than a lot of the films she was in.

I loved Davis in "Now, Voyager", "The Letter" and "All About Eve".

by 50?reply 4006/18/2011

Davis was a force of nature, but Crawford was a common whore.

I hated both those bitches and survived both of them.

by 50?reply 4106/18/2011

Stanwyck's early pictures that I've seen her in are pretty good, but I also find the entire pre-code early talkie era fascinating as a whole. I disagree with poster who called her wooden back then. Her sarcastic, hard boiled portrayals in "Night Nurse" and in the first women's prison flick "Ladies They Talk About" are fairly riveting and engaging (to cite a couple of examples).

"Christmas in Connecticut," "Sorry, Wrong Number," and "Clash by Night" are a few personal favorites of mine. "Jeopardy" is a good thriller too. Plenty of her movies though IMO are overly maudlin or goofy but I won't list any examples of those.

by 50?reply 4206/18/2011

Watchu talking about, Willis? Bette Davis was amazingly talented.

by 50?reply 4306/18/2011

Joan is the best thing in The Women and her character is the most modern and the most sympathetic. Too bad she didn't do more comedy. That might have made her less frozen in other movies.%0D %0D But, to judge them when they were at their best, Joan never did anything close to Bette's best work especially in All About Eve.%0D %0D To judge all of them at their best, Stanwyck really comes out at the top, with Bette and Hepburn next. Stanwyck was more at ease on screen and wouldn't let herself get in the way of the character. %0D %0D But if any actress can produce Jezebel, Little Foxes, Of Human Bondage, Dark Victory, Now, Voyager and All About Eve, or can produce Alice Adams, Little Women, Bringing Up Baby, Philadelphia Story, African Queen, Summertime, and Long Day's Journey Into Night, then they are hardly horrible actors.

by 50?reply 4406/18/2011

BD was fabulously talented. JC not at all near that.

by 50?reply 4506/18/2011

Bette Davis invented modern screen acting -- watch the early films and you'll see what I mean.

No one else, except maybe Meryl, comes close.

by 50?reply 4606/18/2011

Stanwyck never humiliated herself in a turkey like "It's Complicated."

by 50?reply 4706/18/2011

Bette Davis in "A Catered Affair" was a really good performance. Joan couldn't act for shit.

by 50?reply 4806/18/2011

Bette and Joan were a lot alike: they were both crazy, alcoholic and shitty mothers.

by 50?reply 4906/18/2011

"Bette Davis in "A Catered Affair" was a really good performance."%0D %0D Have you seen it lately? Too melodramatic but she did have her moments of subtlety. I actually think Borgnine was much better in that film. I hated her character.

by 50?reply 5006/18/2011

R41, the Helen Lawson routine ceased being funny back in 2007. Thanks for boring us yet again.

by 50?reply 5106/18/2011

Davis was AWFUL in "A Catered Affair." She had some embarrassing performances, and that was one of them.

It's strange how middle-aged thickness descended on Bette so quickly. She's her old svelte self in June Bride, and then, hardly a year later, she's thick as Rosa Moline.

by 50?reply 5206/18/2011

Less people think Bette was more untalented and that Joan was the bigger star.

by 50?reply 5306/18/2011

"Less people think Bette was more untalented and that Joan was the bigger star."

Am I nuts or is this a sentence written by Maury Escher?

by 50?reply 5406/18/2011

Mommie Dearest is on tomorrow night on Ovation.

by 50?reply 5506/18/2011

Davis was sublime in Jezebel and Of Human Bondage. That's some of the finest acting ever.

by 50?reply 5606/18/2011

[quote]It's strange how middle-aged thickness descended on Bette so quickly. She's her old svelte self in June Bride, and then, hardly a year later, she's thick as Rosa Moline.%0D %0D r52, I think it's because Bette Davis actually gave birth to a baby. None of the other actresses cited in this thread had children, except for Crawford and Stanwyck, who adopted children. It's the only reason I think Bette got more and more dowdy as the 40s progressed. Too bad that baby ended up being an ungrateful born-again dimwit.

by 50?reply 5706/18/2011

Bette's daughter BD was quite beautiful when she was younger.

by 50?reply 5806/18/2011

I happened to see "Night Nurse" when it was on late night on TCN and although already a fan of Stanwyck, I was very impressed by the modernity of her acting. And her voice - she had the best husky, seductive voice of all the gals you mention. She may have come from Brooklyn, but she paid attention to the classes (voice lessons, I mean) at the studios and ended up with a great voice. They all spoke better than the leading ladies of today, but Stanwyck put soft and hard together in her timbre. She was really the best of this group - or Bette. She did NOT play herself - compare "Of Human Bondage" with "Foxes" - completely different cold bitches.

by 50?reply 5906/18/2011

After you kissed me I always used to wipe my mouf. Wipe! My! Mouf!

by 50?reply 6006/18/2011

Davis and Crawford couldn't play comedy AT ALL; Stanwyck and Hepburn did that with ease.%0D %0D Hepburn said that the one thing Stanwyck couldn't do was the classical parts; I think that's probably true. Her toughness really marked her as a modern. Hepburn, on the other hand, did a lot of Shakespeare. I think Davis might have been able to do some classical parts if she had had the discipline. %0D %0D Hepburn (both of them) couldn't portray anything other than an aristocrat, even when they were playing poor characters. It's impossible to think of them being brazen or overtly sexy. Crawford, for all her slutiness in real life, really resists projecting sex on film. When she does ("A Woman's Face") she's far more natural than usual. Davis and Stanwyck could both project sexuality and did so frequently.%0D %0D

by 50?reply 6106/19/2011

Hey r61 -- "Davis couldn't play comedy AT ALL"

I have three words for you --

"All About Eve."

Couldn't play comedy indeed ... you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

by 50?reply 6206/19/2011

Good Lord! I can't believe someone could watch ALL ABOUT EVE and say that Bette Davis can't play comedy.

by 50?reply 6306/19/2011

Very true about Katharine Hepburn always being an aristocrat no matter what role she played. I love Hepburn, but she could not convincingly play characters who were not upper-class.%0D %0D Bette Davis, on the other hand, could play characters of any socio-economic background brilliantly. From Queens to aristocrats to blue-collar women to the most common trash, Bette played them all.

by 50?reply 6406/19/2011

I now prefer Joan's 50s films - Johnny Guitar was the first film I saw, aged 8 - what a vivid stunning experience, and Torch Song is definitive camp, plus Autumn Leaves, Female on the Beach etc. Bette was frumpier in the 50s and her films not as good - apart from Virgin Queen and Catered Affair. Both were washed up again by the end of the 50s (as they were at the end of the 40s when Bette left Warners after the lulu that was Beyond the Forest, while Joan was in Flamingo Road). Both were reduced to cameos on 1959, Joan had the better one "as Amanda Farrow" in the Best of Everything - while Bette flounces on as Catherine the Great no less in the otherwise forgotten dull costumer John Paul Jones, and has a scene with Alec Guinness in the also forgotten Daphne De Maurier film The Scapegoat.%0D %0D After Baby Jane, Bette had better films, I love her sisters in Dead Ringer, Where Love Has Gone may be trash but at least was an A-list movie, then she found roles in England with The Nanny and The Anniversary - while Joan was doing Straitjacket and Berserk - trash classics now but rfegarded as rubbish then, not to mention Trog!.%0D %0D Odd that by 1977 when Joan was a recluse and dying, Bette was being rediscovered and back in major movies like Death on the Nile, in that hilarious double act with Maggie Smith. Of her 70s movies Bunny O'Hare must have been the worst thing she ever did - couldn't she have said no?, while Madame Sin was an amusing telefilm with RJ Wagner. I saw her that year, 1972, when she did her first Q&A lecture appearance at London's National Film Theatre, which was a sellout. My friend Gary and I queued and got in, and Bette was in a good mood that day, she sashayed down to the stage from the back of the auditorium with a fur coat slung over her shouder, trailing on the ground behind her, well of course it brought the house down, but wasn't it Mankiewicz who said that Margo was the kind of woman who treated her mink coat like a poncho, a lesson Bette learned. That was such a success she was soon touring the country with her show.%0D %0D Ingrid though was something else - I particularly like her last roles, amazing in Ingmar Bergman's Autumn Sonata - she and Liv Ullmann should have tied for best actress here, and that final role as Golda Meir for tv, where she has no vanity at all. Its very affecting at the end as she knows its her final moments on film. Ingrid was wonderful to meet, she always chatted and signed autographs, I got two! %0D %0D I love Hepburn too of course, we revered her back in the 60s as teens discovering films like Bringing Up Baby - then she became a huge star all over again winning 2 oscars, while Bette and Joan were mired on their grand guignol films, but Kate never needed to work for money. They must have hated her for that. %0D %0D I read that when they were old Davis desperately wanted to be photographed with Hepburn, as both were from New England - but Hepburn didn't see the need to. %0D %0D Stanwyck was marvellous too, of that top 5 - but gave up too easily and went into westerns and programmers. Cattle Queen of Montana or The Maverick Queen anyone? They are still very watchable though.

by 50?reply 6506/20/2011

Great comments r65, how nice to have been able to meet Bergman, presumably when she was doing theatre runs. %0D %0D I was wondering about the awful films Stanwyck, Davis and Crawford did (at least Ingrid and Katharine didn't stoop to doing trash) - did they need the money that badly?, surely they invested their big earnings - or was it just the desire to keep working, in no matter what. Davis of course had big expenses, with the daughter to raise and marry off, the husbands etc and getting less interesting offers. Stanwyck probably decided she would fare better going into tv and westerns. Joan just gave up while Kate was rich enough to please herself about what projects to take.

by 50?reply 6606/20/2011

In the very dull John Paul Jones (Robert Stack) it is only in the last 5 minutes that Bette flounces on as Catherine the Great. Imagine back before videos and dvd having to sit in the theatre just for that. I bet clever queens worked out from the cinema timings just when to enter the cinema!

by 50?reply 6706/20/2011

Davis also had that grasping mother Ruthie to maintain in some style - but those later cheaper films couldn't have paid her much anyway, no wonder she stooped to Bunny O'Hare or The Anniversary ! - where she could still be queen bee on set.

by 50?reply 6806/20/2011

Bette Davis had a ton of people to support - her four husbands never earned as much as she did, for starters. Bette's mother Ruthie was a constant drain on Bette's finances because Ruthie demanded to live in first-class style until the day she died and Bette paid for everything. Bette had a mentally ill sister, Bobby, who was unable to work so Bette also had to financially support for life. Then, of course, there was Bette's daughter BD who was a spoiled princess and never worked a day in her life who Bette also had to pay for constantly. When BD got married, the support increased from Bette because BD's husband was a lazy neer-do-well who also refused to work so Bette ended up financially supporting %0D BD and her whole family until the 1980s. Bette never had a ton of money to spend on herself, even though she made quite a lot in her mostly went to support her lazy husbands and relatives.%0D %0D I've read a few Davis bios and she really had a pretty miserable life. It's no wonder she was a chain-smoking drinker for her entire adult life.

by 50?reply 6906/20/2011

Both are good actresses, Davis was a great actress. No she was not a cameleon- but she was compelling, real, all human traits come to play in a somewhat stilted film technique that was her time. But she was the best, and still is in many respects. If you don't see beyond the retrospective camp aspects of her career, too bad for you.

by 50?reply 7006/20/2011

"Stanwyck got robbed of the Oscar too many times. A lot of her early 30s stuff was godawful - look at how wooden she is in Baby Face and The Purchase Price. But sometime after Stella Dallas, she really turned up the heat in her acting ability."%0D %0D Was she even nominated for The Lady Eve, arguably the greatest comic performance on film ever?%0D

by 50?reply 7106/20/2011

[quote]It's strange how middle-aged thickness descended on Bette so quickly. She's her old svelte self in June Bride, and then, hardly a year later, she's thick as Rosa Moline.%0D %0D That's because there were EIGHT years between those two films -- June Bride was 1948 and A Catered Affair was 1956. She went from 40 to 48.%0D %0D Both Davis and Crawford were fun to watch, but it's almost impossible now to watch a Crawford film and take her seriously -- she's so busy being a GLAMOROUS ACTRESS. Davis was also mannered, of course, but some of her performances can still today be appreciated for more than camp value, and you can't say that for Crawford.

by 50?reply 7206/20/2011

Yeah but I could dance, unlike those uptight twats!

by 50?reply 7306/20/2011

Since when is "All About Eve" a comedy? It's arch and entertaining and witty, but not a comedy.

And Davis couldn't have played lighthearted (see "Bringing Up Baby" or "The Lady Eve") to save her life.

by 50?reply 7406/20/2011

You all are a bunch of hatemongers. Joan was simply the B-E-S-T. Why must you spew such vile words?

by 50?reply 7506/20/2011

Bette's last film (uncompleted).

by 50?reply 7606/20/2011

"All About Eve" WASN'T a comedy r74? What kind of chuckle-filled, mirth-strewn, rainbow-infused existence do you live in that something as funny as "All About Eve" isn't considered a comedy by comparison?

++++ Birdie: "What a story ... everything but the bloodhounds yapping at her rear end." ++++

Margo: When we get home you're going to get into one of those girdles and act for two and a half hours. Birdie: I couldn't get into the girdle in two and half hours. ++++

Margo: Why Max, you sly puss! ++++

Do you need to have Ed Helms throw up on screen for you to laugh? God help us. You're allowed to say that you don't find her comedies funny, but you're not allowed to redefine the word.

And what the fuck do you mean by this: "And Davis couldn't have played lighthearted"

Did you ever see "The Man Who Came to Dinner"??? "It's Love I'm After"??? "Death on the Nile"???

It's true that the studio didn't allow her to play comedy (they created their stars as brands and Davis' brand was as the long-suffering noble woman) but when she got the chance to be funny, she was side-splitting.

"Cut! Print it! What happens next? Do I get dragged off screaming to the snake pit?"

by 50?reply 7706/20/2011

[quote]Yeah but I could dance, unlike those uptight twats!%0D %0D R73 That's dancing? I've seen characters with the DTs executing more graceful moves!

by 50?reply 7806/20/2011

None of them were Norma Shearer.

by 50?reply 7906/20/2011

[quote]"Cut! Print it! What happens next? Do I get dragged off screaming to the snake pit?"

r77, that's my favorite Margo line from the movie, more so than the much quoted, "Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy night." I love the way Bette throws her head back when she yells that classic line.

by 50?reply 8006/20/2011

Norma Shearer was a cross-eyed, middling talent who only got her career because she was Thalberg's wife.

by 50?reply 8106/20/2011

r80 -- I do love that ... but the scene stealing moment is the bit with the chocolate (which, we later learned, were gingerbread.)

It's a thrilling bit of small, if telling, business and she throws it away perfectly.

It's hard to choose but maybe my favorite moment in when, during the fight with Lloyd, she's standing by the harp adjusting that bow around her neck and says "Not mouse. Never mouse. If anything, RAT!!!!!!!!" And as she says it her hands become tiny claws and her face becomes this fabulously distorted thing -- for those 2 1/2 seconds she actually becomes a rat!!!!!

She was genius and we'll never the her like again.

by 50?reply 8206/20/2011

I may have seen better days, but I'm still not to be had for the price of a cocktail; a salted peanut.

by 50?reply 8306/20/2011

That genius bit with the chocolate was totally improvised by Bette; it wasn't in the script or Manciewicz's direction. Agree that she was genius.

by 50?reply 8406/20/2011

I've changed my mind, here's my favorite line:

"And this is Miss Caswell, a friend of Mr. DeWitt's mother."

by 50?reply 8506/20/2011

For my money, Joan was never sexier than she was in The Women and she didn't even have a man to play against. I guess I'm particularly remembering the scenes where she gushes and purrs over Stephen Haines or Buck Winston. You just know she gave the best head.%0D %0D And at least a few of Katharine Hepburn's greatest performances were playing middle-class people such as the spinsterish school teacher Leona in Summertime, small town girl Alice Adams and Jo in Little Women. All from humble backgrounds. %0D %0D

by 50?reply 8606/20/2011

Lloyd: Eve would never ask for the part of Cora. She wouldn't have the nerve.%0D %0D Karen: Eve would ask Abbott to give her Costello.

by 50?reply 8706/20/2011

The lines you are all quoting have nothing to do with Davis, who was just lucky enough to get to say them - she wasn't even first choice for the film. Thats why Anne Baxter was Eve, as she bore a resemblance to Claudette Colbert who was going to be Margo until she hurt her back. It wouldnt of course be the same film with Colbert (who was also pretty much over by then) - but the wit and the magic, and the fire and music, are all Mankiewicz's.%0D %0D The 3 female leads in Eve must all roughly have about the same screentime. Margo dominates the first half, but is really on the sidelines during the second half as Karen, Eve and Addison slug it out centrestage - as the action moves away from Margo's duplex, which is why we see no more of Birdie. %0D %0D Though its her best remembered film it didnt do much for Davis at the time, she was soon back in regular programmers like Payment on Demand, Another Man's Poison, Storm Centre. Only by reprising Elizabeth I did she get a leading movie in the Virgin Queen, The Catered Affair was really a tv film, that was pretty much it until her 2 cameos in 1959, and her apple lady in that awful Capra remake, until Baby Jane in 62.

by 50?reply 8806/20/2011

[quote]That's because there were EIGHT years between those two films -- June Bride was 1948 and A Catered Affair was 1956. She went from 40 to 48.

Uh - know-it-all at r72, the comment was about Bette in June Bride and Bette as Rosa Moline - her character in Beyond the Forest, which was indeed filmed only a year after June Bride. She went from 40 t0 41, not 40 to 48.

Davis' character in A Catered Affair was Agnes Hurley.

by 50?reply 8906/21/2011

When The Catered Affair was first produced as a TV film (before the feature film), didn't Thelma Ritter play the mother and wasn't the family Jewish?

by 50?reply 9006/21/2011

[quote]Did you ever see "The Man Who Came to Dinner"??? "It's Love I'm After"??? "Death on the Nile"???

Davis is awful in "Death on the Nile." Her timing is way off.

by 50?reply 9106/21/2011

Is Now, Voyager considered a good film?

by 50?reply 9206/21/2011

Absolutely r92. Most consider it one of Bette Davis' best films.

by 50?reply 9306/21/2011

Would it be fair to say that none of these actresses had large straight male followings, even at the height of their respective careers?%0D %0D I imagine husbands and boy friends were mostly dragged to their films kicking and screaming.

by 50?reply 9406/21/2011

I've wondered that too, R94. Were Crawford, Davis etc. gay icons at their peak in the 1930s and 1940s or did they become gay icons later, with another generation of gay men who watched their old movies on television? I'd be interested to know the answer to that.

by 50?reply 9506/21/2011

When I was a gay teenager back in the 60s that was when my generation discovered these movies on tv. %0D %0D The original audiences back in the 40s (when they were at their peak) must have been women, the fraus and housewives seeking some glamor during the war and after - with their menfolk who probably had to tag along or else! and the gays of the time too of course, who also tuned to all these movies on tv later, onces video put the revival houses out of business.

by 50?reply 9606/21/2011

Bette was a favorite target of drag queen impersonators as far back as WWII so she was clearly a favorite of the gays even back then. %0D %0D I don't think Joan's camp value was really appreciated until the post-Baby Jane horror flicks era though there was certainly plenty of ammunition with all of the turgid melodramas she did in the 1950s.

by 50?reply 9706/22/2011

Bette was a genius. She was Box Office QUEEN from 1936-1946. To whoever said that she always played herself is Insane. All you have to do is look at her work from the Warner Bros period. Now Voyager to Mr.Skeffington...these characters are NOTHING alike. The best thing about Bette is when the scripts dried up, she still delivered and at the end she got to PLAY Bette Davis. She was the FIRST actress to receive 10 Academy Award nominations and should've won at least 2 more than she did.

Stanwyck could do it all. Comedy And Drama. And she too was robbed.

Hepburn was way overrated. Her 3rd oscar was more in sympathy for propping up Spencer Tracy before he died and her 4th oscar was for basically doing her own stunts in On Golden Pond. Bette was the superior ACTOR but her ferocity makes the Industry less comfortable so they gave Hepburn the no 1 spot and Bette the no 2. But years later it is Bette's work that is the more memorable.

Crawford was a skilled technician (She could even tell the director, "Which EYE do you want the tear to come out of?" But Crawford was her own invention and she was a crazy alcoholic.

TEAM BETTE & STANWYCK. And to whoever said Hepburn thought Bette was common....NOT true.

by 50?reply 9809/23/2012


by 50?reply 9911/10/2012

BD Hyman has a web site for her ministry. It is surreal how she comes across like her mother while preaching in a fucked up way about things she is intolerant about. She does not like our community at all, the poor dear. The videos are far out on her site.


I think Joan hit a plateau around about her 50's or so. I don't know what happened. It is hard to explain. But it is like she just somehow stuck to the same routine and stopped evolving.

Bette seemed like she was always game somehow. She knew how to work her image in such crap as "Escape From Witch Mountain" with humor and just kept on trucking and never grew stagnant.

by 50?reply 10011/10/2012

The problem with Joan is that her ego would not allow her to do character parts as she got older - she always had to remain the central star of any film she was in, and as she aged the roles just weren't there and she ended up doing some awful stuff at the end of her career.

Bette, of course, did her share of crap films later on but she was willing to do character work and play age-appropriate roles which was something Joan wouldn't do.

I love them both, though. They still make contemporary actresses seem lame and uninteresting.

by 50?reply 10111/10/2012

BD Hyman now looks like her mother as Baby Jane. Karma's a bitch, baby!

by 50?reply 10211/10/2012

I think all these actresses gave some wonderful performances (though I put Davis at the top for longevity, range, and depth), but aren't we forgetting Susan Hayward? I've decided that "Flight," the new Denzel Washington movie, is simply a repackaged Susan Hayward movie--"I'll Cry Tomorrow" in a pilot's uniform. And Susie was more fun.

Not to mention her Babs Graham--when the prison guard softly tells her to breathe deeply in the gas chamber, as it will make it easier for her, she snarls, "How would you know!?" What could be finer acting?

by 50?reply 10311/10/2012

r103 Susan Hayward was much younger than Davis and Crawford and her career didn't get going until Davis and Crawford's peak years were over. Hayward was a marvelous actress and personality though, I agree. A shame she died at such a relatively young age.

by 50?reply 10411/10/2012

I don't think much of either of them- hammy and hackneyed over acting. They're quite interesting to read about in a mainstream campy way, but that's about all.

by 50?reply 10511/10/2012

Bette Davis is pretty much Bette Davis in all her films. With Joan Crawford, I come back for more because of her presence. I continue to be highly impressed with Katharine Hepburn. "Long Day's Journey Into Night" is one of her very best. Barbara Stanwyck's voice is my favorite of them. I read that, once, Barbara Stanwyck visited Jane Wyman. She looked upon Jane's oscar and said: "You know, that oscar belongs to me! When "All About Eve" was released, many critics voiced the opinion that Bette played Margo as if she was playing Tallulah. Later, someone asked Tallulah about Bette's portrayal. Tallulah replied that she always loved Bette, and could say anything to her face--both of them! Meryl Streep isn't in their league as far as screen personality goes.

by 50?reply 10611/10/2012

Bette Davis was a terrific actress. Always interesting to watch. Katherine Hepburn? Click, click, click. Crawford? A weird looking, mannish mannequin as she got older. No one compares to Bette Davis eyes.

by 50?reply 10711/11/2012

Bette all the way. Joan Crawford was a great actress too but Bette had played in greater movies and she was so unique! Those eyes of hers, yes! Lol.

by 50?reply 10811/11/2012

Joan Crawford could be so moving and gentle despite having that austere face of hers, it's a paradox. Joan Crawford!

by 50?reply 10911/11/2012

Bette never made a film as luridly delicious as Joan's Female on the Beach: hunky men pimped by old couple to hustle money from old broads. Can't get any trashier than that.

by 50?reply 11011/11/2012


by 50?reply 11111/11/2012

OP, do you understand how brilliant a creation Davis' characterization of "Baby Jane" Hudson truly is, aided and abetted by a great story? Disregard the camp reputation the movie has accumulated over the years and you'll see what a tragic tale it is and how great Davis can be. In fact, you have to watch it at least twice in order to appreciate the double layer of the story: the first time to enjoy Davis as a hilarious comic villain, like something out of Grand Guignol; and subsequent viewings to realize Jane is a victim of Sophoclean proportions, invoking our pity and terror.

by 50?reply 11211/11/2012

Davis' performance in WHBJ is sublime. It works on so many different levels: camp, horror, tragedy, satire, autobiography, etc. Baby Jane is truly one of the most original creations of the silver screen - all thanks to Davis.

Crawford is wonderful in her own way, but much less adventurous than Davis.

by 50?reply 11311/11/2012

They both could've been modern day successes if they were young now. Both could've easily adopted the modern style of acting, and both would still have the "it" star factor. But today it would be much more difficult to find starring roles playing strong women.

by 50?reply 11411/11/2012

Yes, i like Bette as an actress more as well. However, it must be mentioned that Joan was far more adventurous than Bette in her personal life.

by 50?reply 11511/11/2012

For the ages...

by 50?reply 11611/11/2012

Katharine Hepburn is overrated as an actress and so is Bette Davis. I don't confuse Bette's constant overacting with good acting. Ingrid Bergman should have at least shaved her mustache before appearing on camera. However, I love Barbara Stanwyck.

by 50?reply 11703/25/2013

Actors get older and the talent fades. I think Bette had more thespian training to fall back upon, while Joan was trained by the studio system how to "appear on camera".

By 1962, Bette was developing into a good character actress (just watched her again in "Burnt Offerings" and she lent the production some class), while Joan was concentrating on other things in her life (though her dying scenes at the end are really haunting).

The director should have demanded more of Joan and less of Bette.

by 50?reply 11803/25/2013

Betty Davis was like a silent screen actress who was allowed to talk.

Joan was a more modern actress, although she did a few silent pictures.

by 50?reply 11903/25/2013

I heard Bette decided to go over the top with her performance as Baby Jane. "Look at me. Aren't I hideous? And you can't take your eyes off of me, can you?"

by 50?reply 12003/25/2013

One of my favorite Stanwyck performances is one of her most nuanced and quiet in a rarely seen and underrated film from the 50s, "These Wilder Years," in which she plays the head of an orphanage who tries to keep James Cagney from finding the son he fathered a couple of decades earlier. The two actors work wonderfully together--each balancing the other one's capacity to over-act in dramatic film. It's pure soap opera, but quite touching.

I didn't much like Stanwyck when I was a younger gay boy/man, but have come to appreciate her. Davis will always be my favorite (we all have our divas, on whom we imprint at an early age, like Konrad Lorenz and the ducklings) and I am never bored watching a film of hers (granted, I know better than to try Bunny O'Hare or others like it), and she is the most consistent and has the widest range (in my very humble opinion--I know others see her as one-note)--that she can move from Regina Giddens to Charlotte Vale always amazes me. Crawford at her best is quite good, but there's more dreck to plow through. I am less engaged by Hepburn the older I get--and I admit, her always being in Bryn Mawr mode starts to irritate me, as well as her reported homophobia (directed at men), and her snottiness about Streep influences my judgment. But there are a few Hepburn performances that define great acting--her Mary Tyron, her own Jane Hudson (in Summertime), and, much earlier, Alice Adams. But I don't find the teamings with Tracy all that interesting ultimately--the two of them seem too coy and precious as a couple (I thought Tracy did the "dad" role better with Joan Bennett in "Father of the Bride"). "Guess Who's Throwing Up Dinner" is almost unwatchable to me. And "On Golden Pond" would have been more interesting with Stanwyck (though her clattering dentures and Brooklyn prosody would have seemed odd)--hell, it would have been more interesting with Janet Gaynor (who started to do it onstage in Chicago, before the accident). But it's a dreadful, syrupy script--and the playwright deserved to be slapped.

by 50?reply 12103/25/2013

Stanwyck seems to be finally getting her due.

by 50?reply 12203/25/2013


by 50?reply 12303/25/2013

You know what I miss? Women like that. My fave is Davis of course but all of them were wonderful, strong, take no prisoners. Add Dietrich into the mix. Every single one of them were famous before feminism.

Feminism comes in and all we get are sex kittens who really can't act. Women who are so plastic surgeried to death they can't hardly speak. Women who are kowtowed by men. The female action hero is a total JOKE imho. Any of the pre-feminist era female icons were amazing.

I think it all started to go downhill with Marilyn Monroe. Suddenly it was ok to babytalk, get nosejobs, and just be cheesecake without talent. And the movie industry has never moved on from that.

by 50?reply 12403/25/2013

Bette Davis was the real deal.

by 50?reply 12503/25/2013

Hepburn was not the actress SHE thought she was (and her ego was massive, really), but she was a strong and interesting screen presence...

by 50?reply 12603/26/2013

Watch me smoulder with Franchot, bitches!

by 50?reply 12704/01/2013


by 50?reply 12806/26/2013

OP is an idiot. Bette Davis is a brilliant actress and she is amazingly good in Baby Jane.

by 50?reply 12906/26/2013

I love this thread. Why were there so many strong female roles for women back then and so few today? Is it because the audiences have changed, with adult/mature women being the core audience back then and young action hungry men being the core audience today?

by 50?reply 13006/26/2013

Did people misunderstand what the vote was about? Judging from the comments on this thread most people favour Bette Davis as the more talented, but she is still leading the vote for most UNtalented with 11.73% to Joan's 28.40%?

I haven't actually watched any of their movies myself, but Joan Crawford was to die for in her youth.

by 50?reply 13106/26/2013

Oops. Disregard what I just wrote. Time for me to go to bed!!!

by 50?reply 13206/26/2013

Bette Davis was unquestionably the undisputed Queen of histrionic over acting, but at least she could act. Crawford on the other hand, was probably one of the worst actors from classic Hollywood. With the possible exception of "Grand Hotel," where she was still weak but luckily carried through by actual talent such as the Barrymores and Wallace Berry, her career was just one bout of bad acting after another, occasionally interrupted by painful episodes of campy over acting. The only time this ever worked in her and the audience's favor was in "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" She was mannishly unattractive and the worst leading lady from the days of classic Hollywood, as well as one of the worst actresses ever to be put in front of a motion picture camera.

by 50?reply 13311/19/2013

[all posts by tedious, racist idiot removed.]

by 50?reply 13411/19/2013

You cruel, heartless bitches.

by 50?reply 13511/19/2013

In order of performance, I would rate Joan Crawford first, then Bette Davis, then Barbara Stanwyck. I never cared for the OP's other choices.

by 50?reply 13611/19/2013

Stanwyck is my favorite actress. No one before or since had her range. She could hit any drama or comedy. To say she didn't get her due is a lie. The only way she didn't get her due was never getting an Oscar. Not get her due? Jesus she was the highest paid woman in the country through the 1940s.

by 50?reply 13711/19/2013

I give the edge to Davis. Davis took more chances. She didn't care if she looked like hell, if the part called for it, she did it. Could anyone see Crawford doing the Baby Jane part? Or her part in Pocket Full of Miracles? Or her part in A Catered Affair? No. Way. Even when Crawford was doing those horrible B grade horror films, she always was the glamorous "movie star".

by 50?reply 13811/19/2013

Well, taking into account that Hepburn made a career of playing the same rebellious-tomboy-turned-lady over and over again, and Bergman played the same frumpy woman with the charisma of a damp dishcloth time and time again (alongside with Olivia de Havilland), I'd say that they would have had A LOT of competition for the Razzies.

The only talented actress of the ones you have mentioned was Stanwyck, who was fantastic. Davis was very charismatic, even if she looked like a fattened owl, and Crawford just had lots of luck and many friends in Hollywood.

by 50?reply 13911/19/2013

MILDRED PIERCE is on TCM tonight at 10PM ET

I have to admire Joan Crawford because she was such a phony, a total creation -- and she was so consistent with that upper-crust accent and everything. Joan was the most beautiful of all of them through her 40s. Joan was willing to play unflattering characters not unlike herself (Harriet Craig). With good material, Joan was an excellent actress.

I also love Stanwyck and Bette, Hepburn not so much.

by 50?reply 14011/19/2013

I'm with R139. Stanwyck was head and shoulders above them all. She had an excellent range and played many varied roles. But Stanwyck's acting seems, to me at least, more natural than Davis. Granted, by today's standards it seems a little more affected than we expect. But when I think of her movies, I never remember Stanwyck being so "over the top" as Davis sometimes is.

by 50?reply 14111/19/2013

The winning category in the poll shows just how old and cliched the main demographic on this site is.

by 50?reply 14211/19/2013

I love them. Davis, Stanwyck, Crawford, Hepburn - they all had a magic on-screen that most of today's actresses can't even dream of, let alone achieve.

by 50?reply 14311/19/2013

This may be the most vile and profane "discussion" I have ever seen undertaken on this site. For shame! All of you--for shame!!

by 50?reply 14411/19/2013

Stanwyck was never promoted by a studio because she freelanced. If she was at Warners under contract, she'd have been nominated for Oscars a lot, and have won at least one Oscar, probably two.

by 50?reply 14511/19/2013

[all posts by tedious, racist idiot removed.]

by 50?reply 14611/19/2013

Not sure how the OP is defining " talent" in the poll really. Their talent was understanding how to be a film star for decades in an era when it meant something. That took more than technical mastery of acting technique or the ability to adopt convincing foreign accents.

by 50?reply 14711/19/2013

Stanwyck was just so tough in many of her films it's easy to forget just how beautiful she really was.

by 50?reply 14811/19/2013

Oh yes, R146, she was homely and unfit to be a glamorous leading lady.

by 50?reply 14911/19/2013

When she was in her prime no one could do a closeup like Joan.

by 50?reply 15011/19/2013

I think Bette Davis was a bit over-rated. Joan was under-rated who could be really good with the right material or director. I love watching Katharine Hepburn but there's very little range.

I'd say Stanwyck was probably the best of any of them.

by 50?reply 15111/19/2013

I'm rating:

Davis Crawford Stanwyck


by 50?reply 15212/16/2013

Grr.. Formatting error! I'll try again.

by 50?reply 15312/16/2013

[all posts by tedious, racist idiot removed.]

by 50?reply 15412/16/2013

Bette Davis's voice got in the way of her characters she played in movies...Crawford's speech was pleasant and I think she expressed emotions better on film...I always thought Betty Davis was Betty Davis on film rather then playing a character...

by 50?reply 15501/01/2015

R155. That's funny because I always felt that Bette Davis was a great actress with broad range while Katharine Hepburn was always just Katharine Hepburn in any movie she ever did.

I don't disrespect your opinion R155 I just find it funny how different people think about different actresses.

by 50?reply 15601/01/2015

Davis was sublime perfection in The Little Foxes. None of the other hags being discussed could have delivered that brilliant performance.

by 50?reply 15701/01/2015

You fags are really too much.

by 50?reply 15801/01/2015

And where the fuck do I fit into your little fag pantheon?

by 50?reply 15901/01/2015

I think they're both better drag queens than actors.

One's a canned ham and the other's a boiled ham.

by 50?reply 16001/01/2015

Late in their careers, when I saw these women first, they all seemed to mannered. Stanwyck was billed as "Miss Barbara Stanwyck" on "THe Big Valley". Hepburn was still able to get a variety of roles, but the others were stuck in a rut and had to remind us they were "stars" with rather mannered scenery chewing.

Stanwyck probably was underappreciated in her heyday and does seem to have had surprising range. Davis could have done sharply written comedy--not screwball or light comedy, but the more ironic stuff that's common now. "All About Eve" may be "arch" but it shows potential that was never tapped. Davis really did show range in her time, while Crawford either played the shopgirl or some brittle middle aged character.

never got the Oscar quality of "Mildred Pierce". It was cut from the same shameless melodramatic cloth as "Stella Dallas" and "Imitation of Life", all of which are unwatchable.

by 50?reply 16101/01/2015

Davis was a better actress than Crawford for sure, but she was terrible at comedy. Crawford always played herself on screen. Hepburn also played herself a lot of times (with a few exceptions). Bergman was also great, but I sometimes feel she overplays her characters a little. Stanwyck, on the other hand, was much more versatile than the other four and acted in a very natural way. Plus, she was a much more likable person than Davis, Hepburn and Crawford.

by 50?reply 16207/05/2015

I do think Bette was talented, but I actually think her All About Eve performance is a little mannered and twitchy (and the movie while good - a little overrated and overdone), Maybe because so many bad Bette impersonations seem to be quotes from the movie, and that has colored how I see it.

Bergman is my favorite, but she might not be as versatile when it comes to comedy (although she did do a decent job as the straight woman in Cactus Flower and plotting revenge against Cary Grant at the end of Indiscreet).

by 50?reply 16307/05/2015

The nude statue Bette posed for many years ago is in Boston, not Central Park.

by 50?reply 16407/05/2015

Streep? Click-click-click.

by 50?reply 16507/05/2015

Davis really sucked in the last half of her career. She's about as subtle as a diesel truck.

by 50?reply 16611/09/2015

If only BD Hyman and Christina Crawford could have switched places for a day.

by 50?reply 16711/09/2015

OP is the type who confuses wooden acting and "naturalism." People like that ruined the dramatic arts forever.

by 50?reply 16811/09/2015
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