QUICK! Name the most interesting feud in the past five years.
Struggling? You’re not alone. It’s not your fault, either. There’s a dearth of interesting, intelligent feuds in this day and age. I don’t mean reality TV stars ripping each other’s hair out or 16-year olds being little jerks to their Disney co-stars. I mean movie stars who call out co-stars for being garbage and then continually trash their name in every press junket imaginable. I mean rising talents being cut down by the old guard. I mean smart, witty warfare between icons.
Brad Pitt calling Julia Roberts a talentless monster whose only skill is how many sugar cubes she can eat in one sitting.
Back in the old days when media wasn’t quite so ubiquitous and the famous weren’t endlessly followed by paparazzi or “gotcha” journalists, it seems that movie stars were more inclined to say what was on their minds about their fellow celebrities.
Take Marlon Brando and James Dean — sex symbols, icons and all-around beloved movie stars. Probably big ol’ fans of each other, right? Here’s what Brando had to say about the young rebel without a cause: “Mr. Dean appears to be wearing my last year’s wardrobe and using my last year’s talent.”
Good god! That cuts deep. That’s not just, “F**k James, he’s an asshole.” It’s smart and clever and man, doesn’t it just sting with feeling? You can tell Marlon had no respect for the guy, and he actually voiced it. Who does that anymore?
It’s all prim and proper and you have to be PC for the twitterverse or they’ll jump all over you. Can you imagine Michael Fassbender telling Channing Tatum something like that? Johnny Depp trashing Matt Damon? Jennifer Lawrence insulting Scarlett Johansson? Never!
And you know it’s not because feuds don’t happen. Every once in a while it comes out, as it did with the case where George Clooney attacked director David O. Russell. But it’s always followed by an equivocation or an apology. No one “means it” and if anyone really does dislike someone, they’d rather be passive aggressive about it than ignite a media firestorm.
We need a little firestorm and little less passive aggressive behavior. So here, for your reading pleasure are four delicious quotes from classic movie stars about their fellow actors:
- John Wayne on Clark Gable: “Gable’s an idiot. You know why he’s an actor? It’s the only thing he’s smart enough to do.”
- Christopher Plummer on Julie Andrews: “Working with her is like being hit over the head with a big Valentine’s Day card, every day.”
- John Gielgud on Ingrid Bergman: “Ingrid Bergman speaks five languages and can’t act in any of them.”
- Humphrey Bogart on William Holden: “A dumb prick.”
Okay, so that last one isn’t exactly witty, but damn if it isn’t honest.
The cream of the crop, though, had to be Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. These two ladies had a hatred for each other normally bred only out of decades of abuse or perhaps war crimes. Two of the biggest movie stars of their day took every opportunity to bash one another, even after appearing in several films together. Here are three of my favorites:
Bette Davis on Joan Crawford: “I wouldn’t piss on her if she was on fire.”
Crawford on Davis: “Miss Davis was always partial to covering up her face in motion pictures. She called it ‘art.’ Others might call it camouflage: a cover-up for the absence of any real beauty.”
And finally, the third and most terrifically nasty quote:
Davis on Crawford: “They say you’re only supposed to say good things about the dead. Joan Crawford is dead. Good.”
Not even in death did Bette Davis let this feud go to rest. Still got in one last jab.
Sure, forgiveness and not being bitter are good things, and Bette and Joan were bonkers. But wouldn’t it be at least a little gratifying to have famous people say what they really feel in an impassioned, smart, funny way?
Quit being silent, famous people, and let loose what you really think. And for our sakes, make it hilarious, huh?
Bennett Rea is a writer and comedian living in Los Angeles, CA. A survivalist with various primitive skills and a distrust of Snapchat, he’s just trying to be a human in an increasingly technological world. He also works at an art gallery on one of the country’s trendiest retail blocks and constantly battles the urge to flee for a cabin in the mountains filled with books and bourbon.