Past Imperfect

Past Imperfect – #430

Leslie, left: “My dearest wish is that you understand how much I care for you. You are my pearl, my endless delight, my everything.”

Bette: “Well, I’ve got a few wishes of my own. Three of them, actually. First, somebody needs to speak to you about halitosis. It’s a quiet demon that destroys without mercy. Second, I hope you find a medical specialist who can figure out why your left hand is shockingly bigger than your right. And finally, I pray that the over-zealous amount of accessories on my bosom will not kill me before this scene ends.” 

Director: “Cut! Bette, we’ve talked about this. You can’t go off script like that. It agitates my ulcer and I have to sedate the script checker. The poor girl has been in a chemical fog since we started filming.”

Bette: “Yes, John, we have talked about this. And I made it very clear that I’m simply not satisfied with these wretched words you expect me to utter. Who the hell wrote this mess?”

Director, apparently named John: “Well, the dialogue we’re having now comes from some idiot blogger in Texas with illusions of grandeur. But the actual script for this movie is based on a novel by W. Somerset Maugham. Perhaps you’ve heard of him, in those rare times when everything isn’t about you?”

Bette: “His first name is W? That’s absurd.”

John: “Do you really want to get into a discussion about odd first names?”

Bette: “Perhaps another time. But I’m bored, John. So miserably bored.”

John: “Yes, we can all see that in your expression. The two of you have the chemistry of roadkill on an El Paso highway in July. Are you aware of chemistry, oddly-spelt Betty?”

Bette: “Of course I’m aware. And you know what helps create chemistry? A co-star who isn’t annoying and doesn’t smell like that El Paso roadkill in August.”

Leslie: “Hey, I’m sitting right here.”

Bette: “Of course you are. Hence my expression of absolute boredom that has been duly noted by everyone on this soundstage, including the nearly-comatose script girl who appears to be drooling on herself and apparently has not learned the fine art of wearing a bra in public.”

John, sighing: “Okay, Odd Betty, we’re running out of time. What will it take to get your cooperation in this situation?”

Bette: “I need motivation, John. All great artists need a muse. Or at least a good, stiff drink.”

Nearly-Comatose Script Girl leans over and whispers in the director’s ear, albeit a bit wetly.

John: “Oh, that’s good.”

Bette: “What? What is the person who will never be in the opening credits saying?”

John: “Well, the word on the street is that Joan Crawford is giving a stellar performance in her latest movie, ‘Gone with the Ego’, and the buzz is building that she might win an Academy Award.”

The Bette Davis eyes narrow briefly, full of fury, then they suddenly widen and glisten romantically. “That’s what I needed. I can do this love scene in one take.”

Leslie: “But what about my smell?”

Bette: “That no longer matters. I want an Oscar on my mantle and I’m going to get it. Fasten your seatbelts.”

John: “Action!”

Leslie: “My dearest wish is that-”

Bette: “Take me now! Take me like you’ve never taken anything before!”

Something flies off the set and lands near the startled cinematographer.

Coma Girl: “Well, I guess I’m no longer the only one without a bra. But we can’t use this footage, right? Nobody wants to see the other Bette Davis eyes.”

John: “Don’t worry. It’s all about the editing. Always.”

Previously published. Modified a bit.

Bonus bit of nonsense: The following is a publicity still for “Of Human Bondage”, the movie I’m parodying, released in 1934, fifty years before Madonna burst onto the scene. Notice any similarities? Of course you do. Everything old is new again. And yes, that’s Bette Davis…


20 replies »

  1. I don’t recall much of the Mad Donna’s attire outside that pointlessly pointy bra-whatchamacallit…bustier? That wretched thing must cause some painful pinching. Talk about the cause of ‘Of Inhuman Bondage.’

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly! When I first stumbled on this photo, my instant reaction was the throughline to Madonna’s “Seeking Susan” era, when she was all trampy chic. But yes, Bette’s face is one of a kind…


      • It’s so amazing to me that it not only existed once, when we all knew it, but before that with Bette. The hair, clothes, vibe. It’s not my favorite look of human invention, but it came around twice. Can’t even blame the 80’s now… lol

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Well butter my biscuits! You’ve shown Bette ala young and dewy ‘fresh’ before somewhere and it shocked me then as it does now. Who knew that bitter and cynical could have once looked like that? Most excellent parody. Especially given the title of the real movie and the fact that bras were flying about the set like lost kittens…. I’m all for ending bondage…and nobody wants to see THAT either. Young and dewy fresh yeah, old, sagging and giving up the fight to gravity – nah. In fact not never. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love finding photos like these, flashbacks to “where they once were”. Everyone changes over time, and our perceptions of them do as well. I think Bette’s charming dewiness was quickly dimmed by the roles she later chose. She was magnificent in them, of course. (Well, mostly.) But since she played so many not-so-nice characters, it colored what we think of her today.

      You nailed it with the connection between the movie title and my parody of flying undergarments. I’m for ending bondage, as well, in theory. But I still truss myself up when I leave this house, so considering and doing are often two entirely different things…


  3. Everything in the bottom photo blends together. The pattern on one side of that velvet appearing jacket, that…dress, even the fame of the photo on the wall..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Keen eye! I hadn’t really noticed such until you mentioned it. Especially the bit with the photo frame, and the person in said photo. Who IS that? I may have to rewrite this whole story. Thank you for that… 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      • Blame it on or attribute it to my former career. It was important to notice things about the product so I tend at times to still do that. Especially when it seems that someone is lurking in the background attempting to steal attention even in the form of a photograph.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. I have to agree with Bette on Leslie, my dear Brian. I wouldn’t know about his bad breath, but I always found him to be boring.
    Madonna – Bette ah yes, the miracle of Hollywood recycling before climate change.
    Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m on the same page. I never understood the allure of Leslie. He could be very good in specific roles, but his lane was narrow and he was often miscast. (Do I even need to mention Ashley Wilkes in GWTW? The horror! Scarlet would never have considered wearing reengineered draperies for THAT mess.)

      Happy New Year to you and Pretty!

      Liked by 2 people

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