CAROLE LOMBARD - My Favorite Actress

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Classic Movie Goddess Of The Month: Bette Davis Part 3

Here are what I believe to be Bette's best films and my favorites. Her essentials if you will.

ALL ABOUT EVE (1950) Without a doubt my favorite Davis film. She is marvelous as broadway diva Margo Channing, who is competing with the young ingenue Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter). Watch and let Bette show you how it's done...Acting 101. She was robbed of an Oscar that night, I tell ya.

DARK VICTORY (1939) One of the supreme tear-jerkers of all time. By the time the film ends, there won't be a dry eye left anywhere. Another of Bette's greatest performances.

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? (1962) Where to begin with this wrenching gothic fest. First you have the legendary pairing of long time rivals Bette and Joan Crawford. And the duo get to go at it like cats and dogs. And then you have what has to be one of Bette's most insane performances that is a sheer delight to watch. She is superb as Baby Jane Hudson, one time child star, who must now care for her invalid sister (Crawford). A truly memorable film chock full of great quotes like this one:

Blanche: You wouldn't be able to do these awful things to me if I weren't still in this chair.

Jane: But you *are*, Blanche! You *are* in that chair!

NOW, VOYAGER (1942) The ultimate woman's movie as Bette plays Charlotte Vale, a repressed woman who has a domineering mother and longs to be free to search for love. No one can forget that iconic scene where Paul Henreid lights two cigarettes at once. And this film was Bette's biggest hit of all time. Wow.

JEZEBEL (1938) Bette won her second Oscar for Best Actress in this film that is very comparable to Gone With The Wind. Bette is Julie Marsden, a Southern belle of the 1850's whose love for the wrong man (Henry Fonda) leads to much heartache and suffering. A good showcase for Bette's ample acting talent.

THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER (1942) While Bette takes a back seat to Monty Wooley and Ann Sheridan in this screwball farce, her restrained performance as secretary Maggie Cutler, showed that Bette could take it down a notch when she had to. One of the best comedies ever made.

OLD ACQUAINTANCE (1943) For some reason I love this melodramatic soap fest. Call it my guilty pleasure. Bette is Kit Marlowe, a famous writer who is best friends with Millie (the wonderfully over the top Miriam Hopkins). Friendship soon turns into a bitter rivalry. Famous scene has Kit shaking the crap out of Millie and then saying succinctly...Sorry. Classic.

THE WHALES OF AUGUST (1987) Is the last great film did by the wonderful Bette. She and Lillian Gish are magnificent as two elderly sisters living in their family cottage home on the coast of Maine. Bette is Libby, who is blind and maybe senile. Lillian is Sarah and she takes care of her. This is truly a beautiful and amazing film. It's great to watch veteran actors still make such moving films. In addition to Davis and Gish, this film also stars Ann Sothern, Vincent Price and Harry Carey, Jr.

So these are in my humble opinion, the films of Bette that you need to see if you don't see nothing else. Also worth viewing and showing Bette at her best are THE GREAT LIE, ALL THIS AND HEAVEN, TOO, and THE LITTLE FOXES.


The Poetess said...

Gosh I love Bette Davis. I have seen every film on that list except for two ("The Whales of August" and "Dark Victory") and I have to say that "All About Eve" and "Baby Jane" are my two favorite Bette performances. She's just so damn hilarious. Truly one of a kind.

Gilby37 said...

I think she is amazing in "The Letter" -- as Alec Baldwin said when explaining why it is an essential, it truly showcases the broad range Davis could play. In that movie, she is multifaceted -- playing innocence(when telling her version of the killing), desperation, cunning,manipulation,flirtation. Mr Skeffington was also a career highlight because she convinced us she was a beauty being pursued ala Scarlett O'Hara, then allows herself to look like a first cousin of Baby Jane Hudson. Bette dared in ways few of her day did -- that's why Jane Fonda and Meryl Streep often point to her as a trailblazer for redefining the term "leading lady."

monty said...

Poetess you need too watch Dark Victory if nothing else. And Tracy, believe it or not I have never seen The Letter. I definitely want to see it though.

Gilby37 said...

Dark Victory is an essential for any film or Bette fan. The Letter is a movie Monty that will blow you away -- it has a perfect cast. In addition to Davis, Herbert Marshall, Gail Sondergaard, Victor Sen Yung, and James Stephenson are solid!

monty said...

Thanks Tracy. Hopefully TCM will be airing The Letter again soon.

Dawn said...

Monty , I do not think I have seen the Betty Davis film, THE WHALES OF AUGUST. DARK VICTORY, maybe my favorite, Betty Davis movie.


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