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Bette and Joan: The Divine Feud

4.3 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0595120277
ISBN-10: 059512027X
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

If equally matched adversaries are bound to create sparks and flames of conflict, then Bette Davis and the late Joan Crawford should offer a good battle. But for three quarters of the book, a series of very brief chapters (each a pastiche of racy quotes from such authorities as Photoplay and gossip columnist Louella Parsons), the two barely make contact. Considine ( Barbra Streisand ) attempts to build a sense of impending, fated enmity between them, but when the screenstars finally meet, it's anticlimactic. The book follows them from birth on divergent paths to glory--Crawford's via the proverbial casting couch, Davis's through hard-nosed talent. Unmistakably alike, they marry many times, receive the backlash of vindictive children and end up as "reclusive alcoholics." Because of the book's reliance on hearsay, gossip overwhelms "truth"; we understand neither Crawford's desperation to be loved nor Davis's to be despised. This is a dull "Peeping Tom" book, lacking in essential sympathy and knowledge. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Although the author claims to have researched this book for 14 years, he only interviewed Crawford and Davis each once. Many of the references are rather casually cited by scholarly standards. Given this, and the fact that both the great actress (Bette) and the great movie star (Joan) had selective memories, the book is less than satisfying. But it is fun, superficial reading, full of clever quotes (Bette gets in lots of good cracks at Joan), views of a bygone Hollywood, additional portraits of the two driven, competitive women, and an extensive bibliography.
- Rebecca Sturm Kelm, Northern Kentucky Univ. Lib., Highland Heights
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: iUniverse (October 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 059512027X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0595120277
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #141,040 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderfully trashy book that focuses on the careers and lives of the great Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. It's by far the best book on either of them. Great book for anyone with a good sense of camp who enjoys these great actresses!
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Format: Paperback
Oh, my, a book chronicling the legendary feud between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford! The same feud that inspired such quotes as 'Hollywood's first case of syphillis, I wouldn;t sit on her toilet' (Bette on Joan) and 'Some would call it Art. I would call it camouflage' (Joan on Bette's makeup)! A book chronicling not only the face-to-face fights but also the lives of the two most enduring legends of the Hollywood Machine??
Sign me up!!
When I got my hands on this book, I had expected it to be a sycophantically-observed tirade on Who Did What To Whom (A bit like Andrew Morton's Madonna, or Christina Crawford's Mommie Dearest), but happily Sean Considine has more than enough intelligence and talent not to allow this to happen. A huge, absorbing book, it literally takes each of these Uber-Divas in turn, and, chapter by chapter, charts their meteoric rise from very different beginnings to Hollywood Royalty-status, right to the lonely end of Ms. Crawford (she died first). Included are several wonderful asides about certain movies, and light is shed on some of the more over-exaggerated aspects of the stars' lives (such as Joan's children and Bette's fracas with Warner Bros). First-hand interviews with each of the stars preface the book, and I challenge anyone who is a fan not to find something new in here (for example, did you know that Joan was supposed to play Christopher Reeve's mother in Superman? Except she died before the movie casting people found out?).
Considine is clearly a fan of both women, but does a commendable job of keeping commentary unbiased and even, and, happily, gives it a hefty dose of dry observational humour, to boot.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved reading this. Every moment with this book was delicious dishy fun. Joan Crawford and Bette Davis were powerful, talented actresses, but also completely selfish, manipulative, and destructive. Like the best of enemies, they were too much alike. This book is full of hilarious anecdotes that you will enjoy sharing with your friends. The only thing missing from the book was the story of Joan's famous last words. Apparently, she said to her maid of 30+ years, "Don't you DARE ask God to help me!"
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Format: Paperback
A fascinating page-turner which will rivet and delight any fan of Joan, Bette, and old Hollywood, Among the many tidbits are that Joan and Marilyn Monroe had a sexual encounter in the late 40's. This was confirmed several years ago in a front-page article in the L.A. Times describing recorded sessions between Marilyn and her psychiatrist (The psychiatrist's widow wanted the contents of the tapes publicized to protect her husband from widespread rumors implicating him in Marilyn's death). Consodine's description of the event is hilarious, although Marilyn's tapes revealed that Joan wanted a repeat performance and was NOT happy when Marilyn turned her down.
Pay no attention to the few tiresome, cynical complainers here who dismiss the book as boring second-hand gossip. It is NOT. The book is a huge treat. Recommended!
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Format: Hardcover
This book is the most intensely entertaining piece written about the very eccentric and hostile relationship between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford that I have ever read. As for the facts of the material, I would question the validity of some of the "truths" poured forth by this particular book. Overall it is a fun read and highly reccomended for those who are interested in the glitter and scandals of the Golden Era of film.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a really well-written book---two bio's in one, parallel chronologies expertly interwoven, and bountiful barbs. Hilarious as well as poignant, this one volume brought these true legends much more to life than any of their individual auto/biographies I've read.
Through comparison and contrast---more often than not in their own oblique or direct words---Considine captures Bette and Joan from angles not, I think, so fully considered in other works. One comes to a better understanding of their personalities and how each both affected, and was affected by, their numerous characters as well as each other in their endless arguments over which was the "actor" and which the "star."
Augumentatively orbiting each other for decades until their professional tangent in "Baby Jane", these two really did share much mutual respect and admiration, though seemingly less for the person and more for the performer. Virtually all of it, however, went unexpressed or unbelieved.
One wonders what might have been had these two followed the last sentiments of Jane to Blanche: "you mean all this time we coulda been friends?" But think of the tangalizing tale of Hollywood oneupmanship we would have missed if they had.
(note: there is no mention of Bette's death in this 1989 publication, which evidently preceeded it in October of the same year)
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