So incredible, Wednesday evening, to see the great Gena Rowlands in person, interviewed by film critic Steven Farber after a screening of her historic tour de force performance in “A Woman Under the Influence.”
As part of a long conversation, Rowlands spoke with great warmth about her memories of Bette Davis, with whom she co-starred in “Strangers: The Story of a Mother and Daughter” (1979).
Rowlands told it like this:
“I loved Bette Davis. She was very funny; she had a cruel sense of humor.
“When I grew up, all the women [in the movies] were very obedient, pleasant, and had nice manners. Except it wasn’t so with Bette. Her very independence meant that she would lack a fear of offending. I remember on that movie we did together, I played her daughter. She would get really riled. She was really on the case of the cinematographer, who was one of the nicest people. She came out of the dailies and asked me, ‘Did you see my lips?’ She said, ‘I have on pink lipstick.’ I said, ‘It doesn’t seem so pink to me.’ (She wore it every day.)
“I said I wasn’t paying much attention. She said, ‘Well you better pay attention. Because YOU’RE NO SPRING CHICKEN EITHER.'”
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I remember watching “Strangers” on Mother’s Day back in 1979. We loved it. There are no actresses today that match Bette Davis and Gena Rowlands. They were beyond superb — totally devoted to their craft.
Miss Davis was the greatest star of Hollywood: she wasn’t beautiful, she never married a producer, she wasn’t phoney. Everything she attained was due to her extraordinary talent, determination and courage!
Love Gena Rowlands too! Listen to what she said about Bette Davis (her all-time favorite actress) at the Honorary Oscar Cerimony when she received her well deserved Award!
jh dreisdale – your perception of Bette Davis is nothing more than the tittle tattle thrown around the tabloids for many decades. Bette Davis was a perfectionist, not because she thought she was better than everyone else but because she insisted that any film she was in had to be the best, that meant everyone had to pull their weight. She was well known for being difficult but not for diva-like demands, she demanded everyone put as much effort as she did into making the picture worth it. Say what you will about her, she was not a vain woman, she was prepared to do whatever it took to make a movie great and she wouldn’t take kindly to those who didn’t care. If that makes her nasty then so be it, but she was one damn fine actress and she was an ACTRESS, not a beauty queen, not preened and perfect.
while i’ve loved davis’ work, i never cared for the actress and her nasty ways…she was a very bitter, jealous, self-centered woman who openly despised actors unless they bowed to her unceasingly, or were much less attractive than she (if there were any).
gena rowlands is an amazingly talented, classy lady; she’s the quintessential fabulous movie star from A to Z. she has always been a breathtaking beauty, and her looks are equaled by her selfless generosity — both professionally and personally.
Love both those woman. Bette was my favorite actress and Gena is right up there with her. Plus she was married to one of the sexist guys ever!