To get ready for Sunday’s premiere of the new FX series “Feud: Bette and Joan,” take time this weekend to stream one or two of the film classics featuring Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. In the new Ryan Murphy show, Oscar winners Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange play these two stars as they ready to make their one movie together, “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” While you might be tempted to watch that horrorfest first on Amazon Prime, save it for last. Instead, savor some of their celebrated performances that made them rivals for the title of queen of Hollywood.
“Of Human Bondage” (1934): After churning out 22 films in her first three years in Hollywood, Davis finally got her big break in this adaptation of the celebrated Somerset Maugham novel. She sizzled on-screen as a slatternly waitress who ruins the life of a would-be doctor (Leslie Howard). While Davis didn’t reap an official Oscar bid, she got a lot of write-in votes. (Amazon Prime)
“Dangerous” (1935): Davis won her first Oscar the following year for this film in which she plays a temperamental stage star who chooses her career over love with Franchot Tone. (YouTube)
“Jezebel” (1938): Davis’ home studio, Warner Bros., made this lavish Civil War drama to pre-empt the release of “Gone With the Wind” the following year. While the actress was desperate to play Scarlett O’Hara in that film, she won her second Oscar for the similarly styled character of Julie Marsden. (YouTube)
“All About Eve” (1950): Claudette Colbert, who won her Oscar the year that Davis was denied a nomination, dropped out of this backstage drama. Davis took on the role of Margot Channing, an aging actress who is supplanted by Eve Harrington, a young upstart. When the player of that part, Anne Baxter, insisted on being campaigned up in lead alongside Davis at the Oscars, their vote got split and Judy Holliday (“Born Yesterday”) prevailed. (Amazon Prime)
“Hush…Hush Sweet Charlotte” (1964): This gothic drama was supposed to be a rematch between the “Baby Jane” co-stars but Crawford bowed out after a week of filming. Two-time Oscar champ Olivia De Havilland took on the part of the poor relation who wreaks revenge on her rich cousin played to perfection by Davis. (Amazon Prime)
“Grand Hotel” (1932): Crawford, a silent film star, had made 10 talkies before landing a role in this Best Picture champ as a secretary to industrialist Wallace Beery. Others checking into this hostelry include both Lionel and John Barrymore and Greta Garbo. (Amazon Prime)
“The Women” (1939): This adaptation of the Clare Booth Luce play gave Crawford her best part in years as a scheming manicurist who steals away the husband of a society matron (Norma Shearer). Others in the ladies only cast include scene stealer Rosalind Russell and Hedda Hopper (Judy Davis plays the gossip columnist in “Feud”). (Amazon Prime)
“Mildred Pierce” (1945): Crawford had to fight for this role and right she was to go up against studio boss Jack Warner (played by Stanley Tucci in “Feud”) as she ended up winning her only Academy Award . Oscar-winning director Michael Curtiz (“Casablanca”) oversaw this adaptation of the James M. Cain bestseller about a selfless mother (Crawford) who sacrifices her own happiness for her ungrateful daughter (Ann Blyth). (Amazon Prime)
“Possessed” (1947): With her star once again shining, Crawford was cast as a woman scorned who becomes obsessed with her ex-love Van Helfin. She reaped her second Oscar bid but lost to Loretta Young (“The Farmer’s Daughter”). (Amazon Prime)
“Sudden Fear” (1952): Dropped from Warners, Crawford found success with this crime drama, her first film for RKO. Her character, a capable career woman, makes the mistake of marrying an actor (Jack Palance) who plots to kill her with the help of his mistress (Gloria Grahame). Crawford earned her third and final Oscar nomination, but was bested by Shirley Booth (“Come Back, Little Sheba”). (Amazon Prime).
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