Sunday, November 18, 2012

Joan Gets Hushed

Most classic movie buffs are aware of the movie "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" and the legendary feud that existed between its two stars, Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. A lesser known fact is that the two actresses were scheduled to do a follow-up gothic horror movie, "Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte."

Although "Baby Jane" went relatively smoothly, the tensions that simmered during that shoot finally erupted once rehearsals and filming started on "Charlotte."

On the last day of location shooting in Louisiana, the cast and crew packed up and left town without alerting Joan, who'd finished her scenes and fallen asleep in her trailer while waiting to see if she was needed for additional shots. Needless to say, Joan was pissed off and attempted to quit the picture, but discovered she was legally bound to continue. Claiming illness, Joan checked into Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, and temporarily had production halted on the picture.

On July 20, Joan returned to work. Here's a publicity shot and accompanying blurb that went out two days later:

Joan Crawford in her first scene 7/22 before the camera since her illness which held up production of "Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte" at 20th Century-Fox Studios is shown doing scene with co-star Joseph Cotton as producer-director Robert Aldrich watches in background next to camera.

Director Aldrich felt that Joan was faking, and after many back and forth discussions between insurance companies, studio execs, and Joan herself, it was decided to replace her. Vivien Leigh was one of the choices; her hilarious response to the request was this: "No, thank you. I can just about stand looking at Joan Crawford's face at six o'clock in the morning, but not Bette Davis."

A month later, it was announced that Olivia DeHavilland would replace Joan.

In later years, costar Joseph Cotten stood up for Crawford, stating that Davis' treatment of Joan was not very professional at all. Although the picture did great box office, it is definitely not as memorable as "Baby Jane." It would have been interesting seeing Joan have the upper-hand over Bette in this picture. It would probably have helped Bette to tone down her over-the-top performance which only serves to detract from the movie.

Sharp-eye viewers claim that Crawford's face is still visible in the finished movie during a few long-shots that survived from her work in Louisiana.

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K. Martinez said...

“Whatever Happened to Baby Jane” was definitely the better of the two, but “Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte” was still pretty entertaining. I always crack up when Bette plays the young Charlotte in the early part of the film and you can hear her crackling voice. Too much!

From what I understand, Celeste Holm wasn’t too enchanted with Bette Davis either while working on the set of “All About Eve”.

TokyoMagic! said...

I love "Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?" but never really cared too much for "Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte." Still, I would like to see all the scenes that were shot with Joan Crawford. Maybe someday they will be released as "extras" on a special edition DVD.