Monday, September 24, 2012

Battle Royale #6: Battle of the Bitter Sisters

Olivia de Havilland was the first of the sisters to take up acting and make it in show biz, but younger sister Joan Fontaine (legend has it that the mother favoured Olivia and made Joan take a different name) soon would follow.  Apparently, from the very start, these two siblings were rivals.  Stories about Olivia ripping her hand-me-downs so little sis could not wear them are part of this legendary rivalry.  The two sisters were both nominated for an Oscar in 1941, and Joan ended up winning (the only actor in any Hitchcock film to ever take home the award) and legend (again) has it that de Havilland's congratulatory gesture was brushed off by Fontaine as she made her way to the stage.  This action would be repeated in the opposite direction when de Havilland won the first of her two Academy Awards.   Now as far as I know, this rivalry never stooped to any sort of Baby Jane-esque level, but it has lasted until this very day, as Olivia in Paris and Joan in Carmel-by-the-Sea California, 96 and 94 respectively, have reportedly not spoken with each other since 1975 - apparently due to a final riff over their mother's death.  Supposedly Fontaine has an estranged relationship with her children as well, apparently over them keeping in contact with their aunt.  Of course this could all be just tall tales - both ladies have alluded to it originally being a publicity stunt that just went awry - but I believe it to be true - at least at this point.  What may have started as a funny romp, has certainly become a living breathing feud lo these many decades.

But none of this is neither here nor there, because we are not here to debate the facts and figures of such a near-century long rivalry.  No ladies and gentlemen, we are here to vote for which of these battling bitter sisters was the greater actor and/or person. Which one curdled our loins more than the other.  Both are legends of the silver screen with some of the finest performances of the Golden Age of Hollywood under their respective belts.  Both are remarkable actors with accolades out the proverbial wazoos.  Both hold an ideal for physical beauty and both could have easily launched a thousand plus ships in their day.  But which one is the greater, the more talented, the most beautiful?  Which one do you choose oh faithful readers and true believers?  Do you favour the charming de Havilland in all her smouldering swashbuckling goodness, or perhaps it is the brilliant Fontaine and her stunning melodramatic bent that gets your suds all in an uproar.  Whichever the case may be, here is your chance to let everyone know just where you stand on the issue.  Here and now it is your turn to make the decision.  So all you Olivia fans and Fontaine fans get out the vote.  I think this one is bound to be another tight race.  Just go on over to the sidebar poll and choose the classic Hollywood sister that you like the best.  The poll will go on for two weeks before we announce a victor.  And please remember that you can make as many comments here as you wish (and please do - we loooove comments around these parts) but in order for your vote to count, you must vote in the actual poll in the sidebar.  So get over there and vote people.  This may very well be the most important vote you cast this year.  There isn't some other important vote coming around later this year, is there?  Of course not!  Vote vote vote!


Jeffrey M. Anderson said...

Hi Kevyn,

I'm going with Joan Fontaine, mainly because she has the more interesting films: "Rebecca," "Suspicion," "Jane Eyre," "Letter from an Unknown Woman," "The Bigamist," "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt"... I even like her in "A Damsel in Distress," opposite Fred Astaire, and in "Gunga Din."

I wouldn't swap any of those for "Gone with the Wind," though would definitely miss de Havilland in "The Adventures of Robin Hood" and "Captain Blood."


Kevyn Knox said...

I go for Joan as well. Rebecca, Suspicion, Unknown Woman especially, also the best Jane Eyre, also The Constant Nymph and I loved her in Born to be Bad - and let us not forget Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. Okay, maybe we can forget that last one, but still...

I do love Olivia too. Her performance in The Heiress was remarkable and her work with Errol Flynn is not to be denied - loved them as a couple - but alas, poor Olivia, in the end I go for Joan.

Chip Lary said...

I voted for de Havilland, but to be fair I've simply seen her in more movies, so I've seen more good performances from her. From the fun of Captain Blood and Robin Hood, to the seriousness of The Snake Pit and The Heiress (those two walks up the stairs are killer), de Havilland had a more varied career from what I've seen.