Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Chocolate or Vanilla?

It probably goes without saying, but this image of Bette Davis is from All About Eve.

“Why am I so good at playing bitches? I think it's because I'm not a bitch. Maybe that's why Miss Crawford always plays ladies.”
- Bette Davis

Bette Davis and Joan Crawford were not fond of each other. Sometimes it's referred to as a feud but it seems to have been simply a natural dislike. They were different types of actors and it is said that their feelings for each other were not, therefore, caused over competition for roles. They only completed one film together, a set on which they were reportedly both professional and interacted without incident. By most accounts, they barely knew each other. Something in the two women was just so diametrically opposed that they were naturally inclined to dislike each other. They both had unflattering things to say about each other over the years (although it seems that Ms. Davis discussed this distaste publicly with more frequency than Ms. Crawford did).

Both were tremendously talented. I enjoy watching both of them on film. I've just always been particularly fond of Davis. I have a theory that it's a "chocolate or vanilla," "John or Paul," "Bert or Ernie" kind of thing. You can like both but you naturally skew one way or the other. I have no idea what it says about you, per se. I think it's just one of those things.

Incidentally: chocolate. John. Ernie. (and, yes, Bette)


  1. I like Bette Davis...but I love Joan Crawford's acting. If Christina is to be believed, she was a complete psycho, but she had a real talent.

    And I've always loved that Bette Davis quote, though Joan didn't ALWAYS play ladies, heh.

  2. Like you said, Ms. Crawford may have been a terror on a personal level - from her daughter's accounts - but she was such a significant talent and I do find it a little sad that her film legacy is overshadowed by revelations regarding her personal life.

    I guess I always liked that, to me, Davis seemed messier. Not literally but... more willing to get her hands dirty or look awful or look old. I think that, since Davis fought the issue of not being pretty from day one (have you ever heard the story about the studio lackey who was sent to pick her up from the train station and failed to retrieve her because, "No one there looked like a movie star."?), she was focused on substance and driven to overcome that perception about her looks. I think she began her career assuming that she would have to rely on her brains more than her face. I think she was cool as hell (Mean sometimes, but cool as hell).