Saturday, April 5, 2008
In this corner we have Bette Davis in "Jezebel".
In the other corner we have Vivien Leigh in "Gone With the Wind".
Hollywood history has always places these characters against each other. And it seems kind logical they would.
After all they have some similarities.
Julie Marsden: a spoiled New Orleans belle engaged to Preston Dillard (Henry Fonda) who spends most of the film acting with no regard for the consequences or for others; in the process causing death, breakups and more gossip than a plantation can handle.
By film's end she discovers she is not who she thought she was and is forced to take a hard decision that completely changes the course of her life.
Scandal dress: a red gown she wears to the Olympian Ball. She was supposed to wear white...
Time conscious phrase: "This is 1852 dumplin', 1852, not the Dark Ages. Girls don't have to simper around in white just because they're not married. "
Cute ironic moment: "Why do you treat me like a child? "
Epiphany: "I'm askin' for the chance to prove I can be brave and strong and unselfish. Help me, Amy. Help me make myself clean again as you are clean. Let me prove myself worthy of the love I bear him. "
Best Actress Oscar: Yes.
"Gone With the Wind" 1939
Scarlett O'Hara: a spoiled Southern belle who spends her days lusting over Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard) and goes around flirting with everyone with no regard for the consequences or for others; in the process she causes deaths, breakups and more gossip than a small town bazaar can handle.
By film's end she discovers she is far from being who she thought she was and is forced to take a hard decision that completely changes the course of her life.
Scandal dress: a black mourning gown she wears to the Atlanta bazaar. She wasn't even supposed to be there...
Time conscious phrase: "War, war, war; this war talk's spoiling all the fun at every party this spring. I get so bored I could scream. Besides... there isn't going to be any war. "
Cute ironic moment: "Ooh, if I just wasn't a lady, WHAT wouldn't I tell that varmint. "
Epiphany: "As God is my witness, as God is my witness they're not going to lick me. I'm going to live through this and when it's all over, I'll never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again. "
Best Actress Oscar: Yes.
Truth be told, despite these things in common, each of the performances is a unique work of art, but Hollywood loves its feuds, especially those that never even happened and a legend has been built around the idea that "Jezebel" was made because Bette made a tantrum after she lost the part of Scarlett.
People have called it Davis' "Gone With the Wind" and while that idea inspires catfight fantasies in movie lovers, the real deal is that it was nothing like this.
When "Jezebel" was made Scarlett was still the role everyone was dying for. Bette Davis was always top choice and if anything in "Jezebel" has something to do with "Gone With the Wind" you might say perhaps that "Jezebel" is the most expensive audition tape in Hollywood history.
Bette didn't get the role, but she got her second Oscar and entered the history books.
Not so bad for a "second place" huh?