By Stephanie Zacharek
By Simon Abrams
By Michelle Orange
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Nick Schager
By Amy Nicholson
By The Invisible Woman
By I Used to Be Darker
Jets or Sharks? Schwarzenegger or Stallone? Welles or Hitchcock? Such trifles pale next to the real heavyweight championship between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. In a stroke of sheer genius, organizers of the Denver Public Library Film Series will now renew the great debate with a series of six films pitting diva versus diva, star versus star. In one case -- you know the famous title, movie buffs -- the two greats even square off in the same frame.
The schedule, which rolls out on consecutive Tuesdays: January 24, The Letter (1940), directed by the great William Wyler and starring Davis as a duplicitous schemer with a complicated love life; January 31, Mildred Pierce (1945), La Crawford's famous turn, directed by Warner Brothers stalwart Michael Curtiz, as a self-sacrificing mother put to rout by her monstrously self-absorbed daughter, played by Ann Blyth; February 7, Dark Victory (1939), one of the great tragic Davis vehicles; February 14, Possessed (1947), in which Crawford becomes obsessed with slick Van Heflin; February 21, All About Eve (1950), the great, catty backstage melodrama (Joseph L. Mankiewicz was at the helm) in which Davis shared the glory with co-star Anne Baxter, her on-screen understudy, or Humoresque (1946), featuring Crawford as a patron of the arts who falls hard for violinist John Garfield.
The final round? Inevitably, it is Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), Robert Aldrich's dark thriller about a pair of washed-up old movie stars -- Bette and Joan at their best -- who also happen to be sisters doing battle in their decrepit Hollywood mansion.
Screenings will be at 6:30 p.m. in the B2 Conference Center of the central library, 10 West 14th Avenue, with discussions to follow. For information, call 720-865-1206 or log on at www.denverlibrary.org/fresh.
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