Saturday, June 4, 2011

Happy Birthday, Bruce Dern!

"When you betray somebody else, you betray yourself."
_ Isaac Bashevis Singer, polish-born American Nobel Prize-winning author (1904-1991)

Happy Saturday! Today is Bruce Dern's 75th birthday! He has had a legendary career but my favorite movie that he appeared in is HUSH HUSH SWEET CHARLOTTE. It happens to be one of the campiest most over the top films ever made. The ever reliable Bette Davis pulls out ALL the stops. Most die hard fans know that this film was supposed to be the follow-up film to the mega hit, Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?
Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte is a 1964 American thriller film directed by
Robert Aldrich, and starring Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, Joseph Cotten, Agnes Moorehead, and Bruce Dern.
Oh,those Bette Davis eyes.

In 1927, young belle Charlotte Hollis (Bette Davis)
and her married lover, John Mayhew (Bruce Dern), plan to elope during a party at the Hollis family's antebellum mansion in Ascension Parish, Louisiana.
However, after Charlotte's father intimidates him, telling him that John's wife had visited the day before and revealed the affair, John pretends he no longer loves Charlotte and tells her they must part.
An unusually long pre-credits sequence establishes the roots of faded Southern belle Charlotte's (Bette Davis) insanity; she'd been witness to the dismemberment murder of her fiance (Bruce Dern) and the suicide of the murderer, her own father (Victor Buono
ANOTHER AQUARIAN! My mom was born exactly one year later on the very same day!)
Born Victor Francis Buono in San Diego, California, he was a Vaudeville performer when offered a screen test at Warner Bros. in 1959. He soon became a regular on many TV series, most notable as the villain King Tut on "Batman" 1966 to 1968.
His other television credits included "77 Sunset Strip", "The Untouchables", "Get Smart", "The Wild, Wild West" and "The Odd Couple". He also had a successful career in films being nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" (1962). His other films included "4 for Texas" (1963), "Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte" (1964), "The Greatest Story Ever Told" (1965), "The Silencers" (1966), "Who's Minding the Mint?" (1967), "Beneath the Planet of the Apes" (1970), "The Mad Butcher" (1972) and "Target Earth" (1980).

Director Robert Aldrich also did The Flight of the Phoenix- The Dirty Dozen-Apache-Vera Cruz- Kiss me Deadly-Hustle-The Longest Yard. One of my top five favorites of his.

"I wanted to be famous, just to make the kids who'd laughed at me feel foolish. I wanted to be rich, so I'd never have to do the awful work my mother did and live at the bottom of the barrel--ever. And I wanted to be a dancer because I loved to dance... Maybe the illusions, the daydreams, made life more tolerable, but I always knew, whether I was in school or working in some damned dime store, that I'd make it. (Funny, but I never had any ambition whatsoever to become an actress.)"
_Joan Crawford

(bio by: John "J-Cat" Griffith)
Cause of death: Heart attack

Back to the movie...Charlotte remains a recluse in her decaying southern mansion, zealously guarding the secret of her father's guilt; she is cared for by her slatternly housekeeper (Agnes Moorehead). Directed and produced by Robert Aldrich, it was adapted for the screen by Henry Farrell and Lukas Heller, from Farrell's unpublished short story What Ever Happened to Cousin Charlotte?
When her house is targeted for demolition, Charlotte fears that this will uncover her lover's body parts and thus confirm that her father was a murderer.
She desperately summons her seemingly sweet-tempered cousin Miriam (Olivia De Havilland) to help her fight off the house's destruction. Miriam brings along the family doctor (Joseph Cotten) to calm Charlotte's frayed nerves. When Charlotte begins to be plagued by horrific visions of the homicide/suicide of so long ago, it appears that she has gone completely insane. But soon we learn who is behind these delusions...and why. Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte was intended by director Robert Aldrich as a follow-up to the successful Joan Crawford/Bette Davis horror piece Whatever Happened to Baby Jane (1962). Ms. Crawford was originally slated to play Miriam, but became seriously ill shortly before filming started. Davis, who disliked Crawford
intensely, suggested that the role of Miriam be filled by her best friend, De Havilland. On the first day of shooting, Davis and DeHavilland pulled a "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead" routine by toasting one another with Coca-Cola—a catty observation of the fact that Joan Crawford's husband was an executive with the Pepsi Cola company!
This was actress Mary Astor's final film.
The stories about Bette Davis and Joan Crawford's feud are now legendary. There are many stories and/or theories to the origins of this feud. One legendary story is that Bette Davis referred to her and Joan Crawford as "two old broads" when she appeared on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show. Often referred to as "The First Lady of the American Screen," Bette Davis created a new kind of screen heroine. She was a liberated woman in an industry dominated by men.

She was known as an actress that could play a variety of difficult and powerful roles, and because of this she set a new standard for women on the big screen. Independent off-screen as well, her battles with studio bigwigs were legendary. With a career spanning six decades, few in the history of film rival her longevity and appeal.
Read her complete biography.
See for yourself tonight on TCM Sat, Jun 4, 10:00 PM Payment on Demand

A cripple lies slumped on the floor, helpless; while the other, a grotesquely made-up gargoyle with long blonde ringlets, stands over her, viciously kicking her from head to foot.

It was a scene from one of the most celebrated movies ever made, the 1962 classic What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?.
But the violence was mirrored by reality.
Bitter rivals: Joan Crawford, left, and Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane

For the two protagonists were played by the most bitter of enemies: Hollywood's rival queen bees, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford
, who had detested each other for 30 years and would do so to their graves.

Davis, the attacker in the movie, was supposed only to simulate violence.

But as she raised and swung her right foot, encased in a black ankle strapped shoe, she made contact with Crawford's head, gashing her scalp, which needed three stitches, and causing a lump the size of an egg.

It was the climax of Hollywood's most deadly feud.

The enmity had festered for decades, despite repeated public denials by both women that it existed.

Davis maintained this fiction even two years after Crawford's death.

Asked in 1979 by a reporter about the enemies she had made in the motion picture business, Davis replied: "Enemies? I have no enemies. Who?"

"Joan Crawford?" ventured the journalist.

In a tone of "sugared innocence", Davis insisted: "Miss Crawford and I weren't enemies.

The Official Web Site of Bette Davis has everything you want to know about this silver screen legend. Read her biography and learn about this talented and fiery actress.
Browse the photo gallery for pictures of Bette on and off the screen! Click here for more!

Joan Crawford (March 23, 1905 – May 10, 1977),born Lucille Fay LeSueur, was an American actress in film, television and theatre.
They made one film together. According to Bette Davis, they didn't know each other at all.

Do YOU buy that?
"Most of her rivals are now dead," Joan Crawford once mused, "and Miss Davis would like to present herself as just another little old lady in tennis shoes."

Is there question that Davis lied about their relationship?

Her hatred of Crawford was real enough, and away from the media, Davis heaped scorn on her rival's memory until the end of her days.
But what is less known is the reason for this antipathy. This is one theory I found on line. It is definitely open for speculation: On both sides, it was highly personal and sensitive, and was a case of unrequited love.

Crawford, a promiscuous bisexual, was in love with Davis but was rebuffed. Her co-star was firmly heterosexual.

Yet, an added dimension meant it was on Davis's part that the antagonism was most fierce.

This has remained secret for more than 70 years, but Davis, on her last visit to London two years before her death, the love of Bette's life was a man she could never marry because he became Joan Crawford's second husband.
"She took him from me," Davis admitted bitterly in 1987. "She did it coldly, deliberately and with complete ruthlessness. I have never forgiven her for that and never will."

When she uttered these words, Crawford
had been dead for ten years, and Davis, gaunt and wizened from a stroke and a mastectomy, was almost 80. Yet, the hatred remained intense.

This amazing saga of love and possession began in 1935 when Bette Davis was 27, and was cast by her studio, Warner Bros, in the role that was to win her the first of her Best Actress Oscars.

In the melodrama Dangerous, Davis played Joyce Heath, a neurotic, egomaniacal alcoholic actress, loosely based on the Broadway star Jeanne Eagels, who died from a heroin overdose aged 35.

Playing opposite her, as the architect who tries to rehabilitate the fallen star, was the tall, dark and attractive 30-year-old actor Franchot Tone, born into a well-off New York family and a graduate of Cornell University.

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Sources: YOU TUBE, The bitter sexual jealousy that made Bette Davis wage war on Joan Crawford


Read more

The Best of Everything: A Joan Crawford Encyclopedia

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