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.
Denver Public Library Film Series
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.