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STANWYCK OR DAVIS? BOTH? NEITHER?


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5 hours ago, lilypond said:

FAUSTERLITZ,   what a closely and persuasively reasoned analysis of the two of them--  love it and agree with most.  

SPEEDRACERS,  glad you mentioned Jean Arthur.   She's on my supplementary, next level-list with Claudette and Ida.   Jean Arthur,  Depression-era angel exhorting the despairing Jimmy Stewart, in that voice, and with that spunk (unlike Lew Grant, I love spunk),  immortal.  I'm so glad she had that late-career role in "Shane" too, bittersweet and quietly luminous.

My top 4 favorites are Davis,  Stanwyck,  DeHaviland and then Arthur.

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I'll go with Stanwyck. She could do it all.  Bette Davis is among my favorites, too, but she had a great many affectations  and could sometimes be over the top. Besides, I cannot imagine Bette on a cattle drive. 

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I agree with TOTO's assessment of Bette's performance in Baby Jane. I thought she was also good in The Catered Affair in 1956, in the latter part of her career. These films were made during decades when roles for women over a certain age were scarce. Bette was bold and fearless in her career choices.

As far as choosing between Davis and Stanwyck, I think it's like comparing apples to oranges. They were both excellent at their craft in their own ways.

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20 hours ago, Katie_G said:

As much as I love Bette I can't picture her in the same type of situation.

As has been mentioned, Bette did not have many juicy romantic roles. Or maybe when she did, there was just "less heat"? Think about her romances in her mid period WB movies (Skeffington/Dark Victory/Letter and she was cool, distant towards men, her passion was on the drama.

You'd never see Bette claw a man's back in an embrace. Babs has none of that scary anger Bette harbors for those who did her wrong-she'd just as soon kill you! Their late career choices fall in line with those developed personas.

This is why Babs is better at comedy, she comes across less haughty with a sense of humor & humility about her situation/lot in life.

18 hours ago, Sepiatone said:

I don't think Bette could have given the justice that Babs did in many of her roles, and vice/versa.  

Very simply & well stated. 

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I have to say, all these disparate views are just fascinating to read--  every time I check in, it's like opening a candy box.

DESERTLILY,  am thrilled to see you over here.   Hope you'll bring some of your interior design acumen to the dissection of movie sets and art direction!

Whoa, ROY CRONIN,  Bette in "Sorry, Wrong Number" --  I agree, that luxe, claustrophobic bedroom "Leona" inhabited would shake and shimmy with the angst factor.

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3 hours ago, Roy Cronin said:

I think Bette could have done a good job as bedridden Leona in "Sorry, Wrong Number."  

The hysteria would possibly have been amped up even more.

Sure, that's one, but.....

I can't see Bette doing BALL OF FIRE

or...

Babs doing OF HUMAN BONDAGE.

Sepiatone

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22 hours ago, lilypond said:

Ha, ha, thanks for catching that, alert SEPIATONE.   I must have been thinking of my late uncle, who was a Lew, not a Lou!

Heh....    Better than being known as a LOO!  ;) 

Sepiatone

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bette davis has never had any effect on me but making me wanna puke! I never found her, her eyes or anything about her the least remotely attractive.

Stanwyck at least had some modicum of class and was gorgeous so it is a joke to compare her to ugly bette.

my favorite stanwyck scene comes at the end of sorry wrong number when she screams her head off.

Barbara Stanwyck's beauty was radiant.

Barbara Stanwyck Portrait Still (Warner Brothers, early 1930s). | Lot  #28726 | Heritage Auctions

🕸Hollywood Yesterday🕸 on Twitter: "Barbara Stanwyck, Ball of Fire (1941,  directed by Howard Hawks) #DailyBarbara… "

 

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Well, I never considered either of them all that attractive.  But I based earlier opinions of that about Bette based on her later career flicks which were the ones I was most familiar with until the advent of both the early AMC and then TCM, which featured the earlier works from both actresses.  And I think the young Bette was more attractive than the young Babs, but that doesn't mean I think Babs wasn't attractive.  But before any of that, When that song "Bette Davis Eyes" came out, the firs thing I could think of were eyes with huge bags under them!  ;) 

But talent wise, I'd say they were each other's equal.

Sepiatone

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40 minutes ago, NipkowDisc said:

 

Barbara Stanwyck Portrait Still (Warner Brothers, early 1930s). | Lot  #28726 | Heritage Auctions

One of my favorite photos of Babs, she looks so sweet. I couldn't find a copy to post-so thanks Nipkow!

24 minutes ago, Sepiatone said:

Well, I never considered either of them all that attractive. 

There was a long ago thread here that went on for years, "Is Barbara Stanwyck Pretty?" It was an interesting multipage debate that wandered to other actresses similarly as this one, mentioning Hepburn, Young, Arthur, etc.

It's very interesting what people do/don't find personally appealing.

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Stanwyck seems to have had a more...dignified later career, avoiding the horror movie train for the most part.  There was this one William Castle flick with ex-hubby that probably paid well, however.

The_Night_Walker-_Film_Poster.jpg

 

 

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Don't forget that Barbara made a couple of 'suspense' tele-films along with a couple of busted pilot 'movies' (one of which was "The Letters" from '73 that wasn't picked up for a series).

BARBARA STANWYCK stars in . . .

House That Would Not Die, The (1970-Tvm)

-and-

Taste of Evil, A (1971-Tvm)

----------------------------------

BETTE DAVIS made a bunch of TVM's and a couple of 'made-for-cable' movies in her later years.  I believe "Right of Way" from 1983 and "As Summers Die" from 1986 were made-for-cable movies to go along with her passel of Tv films from the early '70s onward. 

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1 hour ago, TikiSoo said:

It's very interesting what people do/don't find personally appealing.

Indeed it is.  Stanwyck is not a classic beauty like Gene Tierney, Jeanne Crain or Grace Kelly.  She probably would not have made money as a model, for instance.  But, her look seems to transcend that "All American Girl" kinda thing...

As to the question at hand?  I love both of these actors.  If forced to pick, I'd have to go with Barbara, mostly because I feel she had more range and more ability to fully inhabit a role and become someone else.  Davis, perhaps by dint of her control over her Directors (ahem...) ended up playing "Bette Davis" roles.  For instance I love both Dark Victory and Now, Voyager, but sometimes I get them muddled in my head and think one scene from one movie was in the other!  Just sayin', that she did a lot of similar stuff....

"It's straight down the line, Walter...."

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Excellent topic, Lilypond and it certainly got me thinking about why I think Stanwyck absolutely gets the "Better Actress" nod over Davis.  To me, Davis is a Star who Acts while Stanwyck is an Actress who is a Star.  Barbara Stanwyck always seems to "become" her characters while, particularly from the 1940's on, Bette Davis is generally playing a variation on the Bette Davis  character.  I also think Barbara Stanwyck is equally gifted in both dramas and comedies while Bette Davis is (for me) not as compelling in comedies.   Stanwyck was somewhat of a revelation for me.  Prior to TCM, I had only seen her more famous films  --  Double Indemnity, The Lady Eve, etc.  And, of course, like any good baby boomer, I knew her from The Big Valley.  When I discovered more of her early work  --  Baby Face, Stella Dallas, Ball of Fire, etc. I was totally hooked.  Don't get me wrong, I love Bette Davis but, for me. Stanwyck is, always and ever,  #1 on my Best Actress List.

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Bette Davis and and Barbara Stanwyck are both great actressses, but I have to give the nod to Davis...when she could play a bad girl, she can REALLY play a bad girl (THE LITTLE FOXES and WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? come to mind though Jane Hudson is a bit more sympathetic than Regina Giddens IMO).

However, if it's between Davis and Katharine Hepburn, I would have to call it a tie, since Hepburn is just as dynamic on screen as Davis is.

Having said that, I can't imagine either women as Phyllis Dietrichson. Stanwyck really nailed that role down.

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I think I read that Bette at first approved Jim Davis as the young military hero in "Winter Meeting";   then she soured on him and made denigrating comments about him.   I suppose the majority critical opinion is that he wasn't up to the part, or certainly 'up to' Bette.  But, while maybe not ideal casting, I think his 'green' quality and slight awkwardness work in his favor in the part.   In any event, there was an unmistakable chemistry in their scenes together.

One of the personal qualities of Davis, the way she would make scathing remarks about others, always bothers me.  She may have felt ill-used by Hollywood, and her talent was so much bigger than a lot of what she was dealing with.  But those gratuitous jabs she would make, put me off.

Loved John Hoyt as Bette's often caustic and catty, but affectionate platonic male pal in the film;  Hoyt is an excellent character player, also great in "The Big Combo". 

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10 hours ago, NipkowDisc said:

bette davis has never had any effect on me but making me wanna puke! I never found her, her eyes or anything about her the least remotely attractive.

Stanwyck at least had some modicum of class and was gorgeous so it is a joke to compare her to ugly bette.

my favorite stanwyck scene comes at the end of sorry wrong number when she screams her head off.

Barbara Stanwyck's beauty was radiant.

Of course, one might say there's more to a performance than physical attractiveness. Not sure DeNiro and Nicholson are such lookers, either, but who would judge their performances based on whether or not they're easy on the eyes. Certainly a double standard here. And I wouldn't rule out the radiant beauty of young Bette, the memory of which the song "Bette Davis Eyes" was  obviously written about.

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I think it's fair to say you will see more ugly men in starring roles in movies than ugly women in starring roles . . . although Edna May Oliver did quite all right in her career despite not being, shall we say, terribly attractive.

Marie Dressler did alright in her later years; she was pushing 60 and destitute before a career rebirth in the late 1920s; a 're-birth' which continued until her passing in late July 1934.   Marie Dressler was far past the age of being a flapper or 'jazz baby', but she acquitted herself quite well from 1928-34 appearing in a score of popular films. 

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Watched an extra on a DVD of Double Indemnity last night.  Eddie Muller (circa 2006) stated that he thought Barbara Stanwyck was the best actress ever.  I agree with him.

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June Bride (1948) is the lightest movie I've seen starring Davis. It's a good movie because of Montgomery. 

Generally, I consider movies with Davis as women's movies.  Stanwyck movies are all over the map.
 

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