Past Imperfect

Past Imperfect – #469


Bette Davis, left: “What did you just say?”

Olivia de Havilland, right: “I said that I love you like a sister but I can’t fully support you leaving the house looking like that.”

Bette: “And why is that?”

Olivia: “Well, two reasons. One is that no one wears tropical attire after Labor Day. It simply isn’t done.”

Bette: “That’s an insipid rule created by people who don’t look good in anything they wear. I think you’re just jealous of the fact that I have more suitors than you.”

Olivia: “Granted, the tabloids might suggest that you are having a whirlwind of torrid romances. But at the end of the day, when we have both moved on to the Oscar ceremony in the sky, I believe our respective biographers will agree that I was much more of a tramp than you ever hoped to be.”

Bette: “There may be some truth in that. I noticed that you have a reserved parking spot outside the local free clinic.”

Olivia: “That was really sweet of them to do that. It makes things much easier when I need a quick status check. But we’re drifting away from my criticism of you, dear sister, and you know I don’t do well with second billing.”

Bette: “Fine. What is your other issue with my appearance? I’m assuming you find it much more mortifying than your severe, upswept hairdo.”

Olivia: “It’s that one eyebrow, dear. Did you have cocktails with Pablo Picasso and things got out of hand? We all know he has a sordid history of realigning female configurations.”

Bette: “I’d prefer that you leave Pablo out of this. He hasn’t done anything to me that hasn’t been done to you tenfold, much to the horror of polite society and whatever remains of your mattress. I’ve seen your Visa bill, and I know who you did last summer.”

Olivia: “Oh. Well, I suppose that means you know about… well, it’s not important. How about you wait here whilst I run fetch something out of your boring wardrobe closet that is more seasonally appropriate and doesn’t smell like drunken realignments in southern Spain.”

Bette: “You will do no such thing. I insist that you remain here and provide more detail on this thing that I should know about, despite the fact that I can’t think of anything you’ve done that would be of any interest to me, whatsoever.”

Olivia: “It’s nothing, dear. A mere slip of the tongue. Whoops, how wretched of me to bring up your frolic with Pablo again. Sometimes I just can’t control this mouth of mine.”

Bette: “That last sentence is so ripe for easy exploitation that it would be beneath me to pursue such an option. But it’s not beneath me to slap you around until you explain what was on that Visa bill that should have had a more meaningful impact on my life. You know I’m not afraid of slapping. Just ask that wretched Texan, Lucille LeSueur.”

Olivia: “Fine. There may or may not have been a dalliance with someone who has dallied with you.”

Bette: “You’ll have to narrow things down a bit. You might have the widest legs but my own are not exactly closed.”

Olivia: “It was one of your husbands.”

Bette: “Again, please narrow things down.”

Olivia: “Oh, that’s right. How many husbands have you had at this point? Fifteen or some such? We could be here all night, so I’ll cut to the chase. It was the first one.”

Bette: “But he was one of my favorites. I could stab you in the face right now.”

Olivia: “He tried to do that as well, but we went with option B, as I had just had my hair done. So sorry, sister. But to be honest, it really wasn’t worth it in the end.”

Bette, sighing: “I suppose that’s a fair assessment. He was a lot of things, but he was never going to win any awards for artistic expression. Pablo, on the other hand…”

Olivia: “Now, now. Let’s not dwell. I’m glad that we seem to be in agreement about something, finally, so how about we let things be and shoot the next scene? I’m sure the director would appreciate it, considering the rest of the cast and crew are just standing around and waiting for us to finish whatever it is we’re doing here. Time is money, and we have a movie to make.”

Bette: “Agreed. Appearance is everything in Hollywood, and we need to do our parts to continue the illusion that we are chaste stars in the sky and not dirty comets that crashed to Earth in a sordid belch of indiscretion. Shall we go?”

Olivia: “We shall. But speaking of appearances, I should mention that there might be some charges showing up on my next Visa bill that indicate I might or might not have been in southern Spain recently.”

Bette: “You just don’t know when to let go of it, do you?”

Olivia: “That’s exactly what Pablo said.”


Previously published, revised and expanded for this post. Bonus points if you can identify Lucille from Texas…


29 replies »

    • Agreed. Bette Davis is delicious, enhanced by her refusal to play the game in Hollywood, stardom be damned, yet she got there anyway. Oh, if only I could be at one of her dinner parties, circa the early 1940s when she was a perennial Oscar nominee and had tremendous clout. I just know that we would have been the best of friends, at least in my fevered imagination… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I really think you need to repeat the photo several times in the middle of the post so some of us less observant people don’t have to keep scrolling back up to check out all the sordid details we missed. If I miss this much in your photos, I can’t help but wonder how much I miss in real life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I actually fully understand you on this angle. It’s bad enough when I’m scribbling the story, having to constantly refer back to the photo to make sure my words align, at least in a random way, with the physical evidence. But it’s even more difficult when I’m responding to all the comments and someone mentions another aspect of the photo, one that I missed, and I have to scroll 100 miles back and see what the hell they’re talking about. I’ll bring this up with the Bonnywood Board of Content Manipulation and see if I can get a ruling for future editions… 😉

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  2. Uh. Exquisite detailing of the subtle nuances we in the cheap seats probably missed. Ms. Bette had her signature (I’m bat shit crazy but you love me for it” look down cold early on, didn’t she? Ms. De Havelin (spell? I’m NOT scrolling up to figure that out again) looks caring and concerned, which as I recall was her signature look. Ah how brightly those stars of yesteryear twinkled and how dim and sullied the ‘stars’ of today look. Proves one thing for sure. Those old stars could sure act!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are exactly on-target with all of your comment. Yep, both actresses had a signature look, and they stuck to that conception from start to finish. But at least Bette didn’t mind looking a little sullied in her roles, whereas Olivia wouldn’t dream of looking tattered and worn. (Even in “The Snake Pit” , wherein Olivia was playing a woman with possibly-severe mental issues, she still insisted that she looked fetching in her discombobulation.) And yes, the stars of today cannot even begin to compare with the starlight of the actors and actresses of yore…

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  3. What an eyebrow raising hotbed of salacious innuendo you stoked up here. A dollop of the gossipy trollop here, a dig at the flipped wig there, a libellous poke at Prone Crawford there- constrain yourself Brian. I admit I failed with the Lucille reference though. Once Wiki helped out I had to wonder- why change from the exotic sounding Lucille LeSueur? Unless it’s said ‘The Sewer’ in its correctly, ahem, inflected tongue? It seems odd to turn a Continental sounding moniker into a plain Joan Crawford. I get the JC initials angle, but still. OK, if you are lumbered with a handle like F. Ethel Gumm that you would change in heartbeat; That had to change before you hit the bricks. But for Hollywood Lucille LeSueur sounds lubricious enough, surely? Then again, maybe the all too obvious Lucille Ball took the mystery of the Lucille cachet down to comic extremes.

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    • I am on the same page with you concerning the mystifying name change from Lucille LeSueur to Joan Crawford. In fact, somewhere in the archives is an entire post (I think it’s a Past Imperfect? Not sure.) which addresses the anomaly. I might have to pull that one out of the dusty files and tinker with it a bit for a re-post.

      But I must protest to your advice that I should constrain myself. In most situations, this is sage counsel, as I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to most life-decisions I process, usually errantly. But with the Bonnywood Stories? Everything is fair game. It’s the ONE thing I can control in my life, and I refuse to be shackled by reality.

      Sorry. I’m sure you were just teasing, but I felt compelled to have a Norma Rae moment. I’ll take my meds here in a moment and we’ll be good again… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, jest joking; restraint gets kicked out the door- I have an image of young Brian/Fowest breaking out of the braces and running running unhindered and unfettered- well Bonnywood is your kingdom, so run like the unhing- wind!

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  4. I just googled and the two starred in six movies together and I don’t know which one your picture is from. If they are playing sisters, then it will be narrowed down to three movies. I didn’t know Picasso knew the Hollywood stars. I thought he stayed in Paris all the time. I wonder if he ever painted any Hollywood people. Probably the misaligned figures won’t be the best advertisement. Well, I don’t understand the art of misalignment and there might be something to it.

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    • The movie still is from “In This Our Life”, 1942, and yes, they were playing sisters. (I usually include the movie name in the tags, but I was errant this time.)

      Picasso certainly got around, never having recognized the concept of “fidelity”, but I’m fairly sure he had nothing to do with Bette or Olivia. This is part of the fun with my Bonnywood stories. I take a little inspiration from a photo here and there and turn things into much more than they were ever meant to be. After all, what is life without a healthy (and possibly warped) imagination?… 😉

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