C/D: Bette Davis

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Turner Classic Movies just finished a monthlong tribute to her (James Woods rhapsodizing over her in Now, Voyager was quite the spectacle)... named by my dad as his favorite actress in his 1945 h.s. yearbook ... for me, mostly Classic up to and through All About Eve, after which she turned into a vampirish set of New England tics that launched a million cross-dressers. The lightness of her voice in breezy '30s comedies and melodramas is a shocker in retrospect.

La creme:

The Letter, The Little Foxes, All About Eve

Worthy:

Marked Woman, Jezebel, Dark Victory, Now Voyager, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

Overbaked or miscast:

Watch on the Rhine, The Man Who Came to Dinner, The Corn Is Green

Never seen:

Of Human Bondage, Old Acquaintance, The Catered Affair, Hush...Hush Sweet Charlotte, The Whales of August

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Friday, 2 June 2006 14:09 (thirteen years ago) link

She is awesome in "The Nanny". Weirdly, that might be the only thing I have ever seen her in.

DV (dirtyvicar), Friday, 2 June 2006 14:17 (thirteen years ago) link

Just about all her Wyler films are great, with special love for The Letter, which has got two great supporting perfs by James Stephenson and Herbert Marshall.

Duds: The Star, all her Gary Merrill pictures, miscast in Mrs Skeffington (she's too smart to play a society airhead), the '60s pictures in which she's competing with Miss Crawford for the Gorgon award.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Friday, 2 June 2006 14:22 (thirteen years ago) link

Yeah, the Gorgon phase doesn't interest me.

My favorite non-Eve line might be in Dark Victory:

"Vermont? You don’t mean that narrow, pinched-up state on the wrong side of Boston?"

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Friday, 2 June 2006 14:25 (thirteen years ago) link

I don't know who's more amusing in Dark Victory: Bogart as an Irish stable hand or Ronnie Reagan as a playboy.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Friday, 2 June 2006 14:38 (thirteen years ago) link

or Geraldine Fitzgerald's look when BD says "It's getting cloudy..."

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Friday, 2 June 2006 14:42 (thirteen years ago) link

I just saw this strange Italian movie she was in called The Scientific Cardplayer, where she plays a rich old American lady who likes to play cards with the local folk. I thought I was gonna hate it as it started, but then I was biting my knuckles with everybody else as they kept playing double or nothing.

Sons Of The Redd Desert (Ken L), Friday, 2 June 2006 16:55 (thirteen years ago) link

She's really great in "The Petrified Forest", which also has a gloriously monosyllabic Bogart and Leslie Howard as a post-WWI disillusioned european intelectual. Very stagey, but great.

Daniel_Rf (Daniel_Rf), Friday, 2 June 2006 17:25 (thirteen years ago) link

Bogart is pretty awful in The Petrified Forest, ain't he?

Leslie Howard: the '30s James Fox.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Friday, 2 June 2006 17:45 (thirteen years ago) link

It's the petrified dialogue that Bogey can't overcome. (Howard insisted HB reprise his Broadway role, boosting his career substantially.)

I almost went to the Italian film at MoMA, Ken! It looked like it could be terrible, but I don't get into cards movies anyway.

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Friday, 2 June 2006 18:01 (thirteen years ago) link

I was forced to watch Now Voyager for a film studies course, and by the end was ready to scream out with boredom and irritation. This probably makes me a philistine. On the plus side, she was a lot less scary looking than Joan Crawford.

chap who would dare to be a nerd, not a geek (chap), Friday, 2 June 2006 18:09 (thirteen years ago) link

The TCM special on her had a great talkshow clip with her showing Jack Paar and Jonathan Winters how to imitate her properly (puff on cig and shout "PE-TAH!")... also Celeste Holm said Bette's response to "Good morning" was "Oh shit, good manners!"

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Friday, 2 June 2006 18:13 (thirteen years ago) link

Now, Voyager is mostly terrible, but Warners knew how to make plushness entertaining. The film's best moments all revolve around David and Dame Gladys Cooper squaring off.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Friday, 2 June 2006 18:16 (thirteen years ago) link

exquisitely terrible. i love that movie.

lauren (laurenp), Friday, 2 June 2006 18:21 (thirteen years ago) link

Morbius, the other Italian movie they showed earlier that night was really interesting.

Sons Of The Redd Desert (Ken L), Friday, 2 June 2006 18:27 (thirteen years ago) link

I went to the old Regency revival house on West 67th Street in the mid '80s to see The Corn Is Green, and the director Irving Rapper -- who was close to 90, and did other Davis pics including Now, Voyager -- did a Q&A. All I remember now was a middle-aged black woman in the audience effusively thanking Rapper and testifying how much she loved Davis. As hokey as her more treacly vehicles are, it seems generations of women latched onto her non-glamorousness and strength as with no other female star.

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Friday, 2 June 2006 18:38 (thirteen years ago) link

Sam Stagg's All About All About Eve has some amusing bits. Apparently Celeste Holm and Davis couldn't stand each other.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Friday, 2 June 2006 20:11 (thirteen years ago) link

I'm also doing the TCM fest. I have Jezebel saved, but I'm not sure if I am going to get around to watching it. I just saw The Little Foxes, which was very good. I loved Now, Voyager--maybe it's a chick flick?

Mary (Mary), Friday, 2 June 2006 20:17 (thirteen years ago) link

a chickflick beloved by James Woods!

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Friday, 2 June 2006 20:28 (thirteen years ago) link

ten months pass...
In need of an authoritative ruling -- what is the correct rendering of the Thelma Ritter line dissing Anne Baxter in All About Eve?

"What a story! Everything but the bloodhounds snappin'

OR -- yappin'

at her rear end."

?


If you KNOW, and I know who does, tell me.

Dr Morbius, Tuesday, 1 May 2007 20:14 (twelve years ago) link

I remember it as "snappin," but I haven't seen it in a while.

Eric H., Tuesday, 1 May 2007 20:17 (twelve years ago) link

"snappin'"

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Tuesday, 1 May 2007 20:17 (twelve years ago) link

btw, Morbs, I'm assuming that this is for you-know-what?

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Tuesday, 1 May 2007 20:17 (twelve years ago) link

yeah!

Well, 2-0 from you boys is good enough for me.

Dr Morbius, Tuesday, 1 May 2007 20:18 (twelve years ago) link

btw, Morbs, I'm assuming that this is for you-know-what?

Are you auditioning for Thelma Ritter's part, Morbs?

Eric H., Tuesday, 1 May 2007 20:20 (twelve years ago) link

Let's hear your rendition of her line about the two taxis on Broadway from "Rear Window."

James Redd and the Blecchs, Tuesday, 1 May 2007 20:21 (twelve years ago) link

yes, they're reviving the musical version Applause, with Hugh Jackman as Margo and Nathan Lane as Addison DeWitt.

Dr Morbius, Tuesday, 1 May 2007 20:23 (twelve years ago) link

xpost

Ken, I don't remember lines that well.

Dr Morbius, Tuesday, 1 May 2007 20:24 (twelve years ago) link

and Zak Spears as Eve.

Eric H., Tuesday, 1 May 2007 20:25 (twelve years ago) link

or, I mean, Zak Efron. :)

Eric H., Tuesday, 1 May 2007 20:25 (twelve years ago) link

well, both those refs sent me to Google. There's lots besides Parenthood you're unembarrassed about loving.

I was thinking the Spring Awakening boy for Eve.

Dr Morbius, Tuesday, 1 May 2007 20:29 (twelve years ago) link

This is becoming the "gay friends" thread.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Tuesday, 1 May 2007 20:30 (twelve years ago) link

like there can be too many!

The first Google image that comes up for Zak Spears is of Bruce Vilanch.

Dr Morbius, Tuesday, 1 May 2007 20:31 (twelve years ago) link

hey, I don't like Zak Efron. The point is that Eve's supposed to be hatable, right?

Eric H., Tuesday, 1 May 2007 20:32 (twelve years ago) link

OK, I'm glad. I never pegged you for a chickenhawk-in-the-making.

Dr Morbius, Tuesday, 1 May 2007 20:34 (twelve years ago) link

Well, I still don't have anything against, say, Evan Lysacek.

Eric H., Tuesday, 1 May 2007 20:35 (twelve years ago) link

alright, I'm not even looking for that one.

Dr Morbius, Tuesday, 1 May 2007 20:37 (twelve years ago) link

Here, I'll help you out:

http://stlouis2006.usfigureskating.org/upload/general/news/lysacek-ph-fs3.jpg

Eric H., Tuesday, 1 May 2007 20:39 (twelve years ago) link

oh Gawd. Stick with Joe Mauer!

Dr Morbius, Tuesday, 1 May 2007 20:40 (twelve years ago) link

six months pass...

I'm not sure I'm a big-enough gay to read the new bio, Dark Victory, reviewed in the NYT today, but it certainly tempts. Davis to Andy Warhol: “Why the hell don’t you do something about your skin?”

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/12/books/12basi.html

Dr Morbius, Monday, 12 November 2007 19:11 (twelve years ago) link

one month passes...

i need to see What Ever Happened To Baby Jane again!

Surmounter, Thursday, 27 December 2007 16:28 (eleven years ago) link

no, you need to see some of her pre-Camp films for the first time.

She's in a couple early Cagney comedies that should be on TCM next month.

Dr Morbius, Thursday, 27 December 2007 16:31 (eleven years ago) link

i need to see everything she's ever done i think

Surmounter, Thursday, 27 December 2007 16:32 (eleven years ago) link

saw Jezebel for the first time in years this weekend. Surprisingly un-mossy. I'd say now that every one of her Wyler films is worth watching, even The Little Foxes (which needed camp).

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Thursday, 27 December 2007 16:32 (eleven years ago) link

Baby Jane is pretty great.

Anyone ever see White Mama? Pretty bad.

Jesse, Thursday, 27 December 2007 16:33 (eleven years ago) link

I still haven't seen the ones I listed at top, or Mr Skeffington.

Dr Morbius, Thursday, 27 December 2007 16:35 (eleven years ago) link

Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte is fuuuuuuuuuuuuun.

generalmills, Thursday, 27 December 2007 16:38 (eleven years ago) link

De Haviland's pretty scary in that one.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Thursday, 27 December 2007 16:38 (eleven years ago) link

i hardly remember Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte. ugh now i just wanna watch Bette Davis movies all day!

Surmounter, Thursday, 27 December 2007 16:41 (eleven years ago) link

Me too. I want a blanket, warm beverages, pizza, and movies. Also desireable a new couch and a man to snuggle with.

Jesse, Thursday, 27 December 2007 16:42 (eleven years ago) link

Hmmm.... I am alone in the office, can watch Netflix on the computer, and there are many couches here....

Jesse, Thursday, 27 December 2007 16:43 (eleven years ago) link

perfect!

Surmounter, Thursday, 27 December 2007 16:45 (eleven years ago) link

Coming to a US post office near you!!

http://jezebel.com/assets/resources/2007/12/bettedavisstamp.png

generalmills, Thursday, 27 December 2007 16:51 (eleven years ago) link

This thread certainly went the direction I expected it to.

Eric H., Thursday, 27 December 2007 17:12 (eleven years ago) link

how would you steer?

Dr Morbius, Thursday, 27 December 2007 17:14 (eleven years ago) link

i need those stamps!!!

Surmounter, Thursday, 27 December 2007 17:18 (eleven years ago) link

All the boys think she's a spy.

Jesse, Thursday, 27 December 2007 17:21 (eleven years ago) link

three months pass...

Greencine links for her centennial on Saturday.

Dr Morbius, Tuesday, 1 April 2008 15:30 (eleven years ago) link

didja read Rafferty's NYT profile?

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Tuesday, 1 April 2008 16:11 (eleven years ago) link

six months pass...

fuckin' USPS:

http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2008/10/thank_you_for_smoking.html

Dr Morbius, Monday, 13 October 2008 14:18 (eleven years ago) link

(dunno how we missed the 'fix' in December post)

Dr Morbius, Monday, 13 October 2008 14:20 (eleven years ago) link

ten months pass...

inspired by ILXgay debate over Davis vs Crawford.... I greatly admire certain Bette & Joan works but have never been a worshipper of either (tho my dad named Bette as his fave actress in his HS yearbook). However, have you seen Dick Cavett's 1971 sitdown w/ BD? (this segment gets real good around 4:25 re losing her virginity)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lHTsF2HFoc

Indiana Morbs and the Curse of the Ivy League Chorister (Dr Morbius), Monday, 17 August 2009 01:15 (ten years ago) link

Joan Crawford made several good movies, but lumping her with Davis as if she's in Davis' league as an actress = faggot nonsense.

Anatomy of a Morbius (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 17 August 2009 01:22 (ten years ago) link

two months pass...

seeing "whatever happened to baby jane" on the big screen tonight !

oops i accidentally made it personal (surm), Thursday, 29 October 2009 18:21 (ten years ago) link

xpost - ...and every other kind of nonsense besides

Race Against Rockism (Myonga Vön Bontee), Thursday, 29 October 2009 19:41 (ten years ago) link

Hmmm...when will the 1940s film poll results be published?

Kevin John Bozelka, Thursday, 29 October 2009 20:00 (ten years ago) link

two years pass...

"I Killed Bette Davis," by Larry Cohen (part 1)

http://filmcomment.com/article/i-killed-bette-davis

Pangborn to be Wilde (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 12 July 2012 14:20 (seven years ago) link

eleven months pass...

so Bondage on DVD this week

http://www.slantmagazine.com/dvd/review/of-human-bondage

ballin' from Maine to Mexico (Dr Morbius), Monday, 17 June 2013 15:12 (six years ago) link

one year passes...

Only found out today she's 'Bette' because of Balzac

sʌxihɔːl (Ward Fowler), Friday, 18 July 2014 11:57 (five years ago) link

one year passes...

heartily recommend the trashy and daring In This Our Life, whether you read James Baldwin's praise for it or not. Her eyes are huge in this one, and man when she tickles uncle Charles Coburn to get money out of him...

Her character is named Stanley, and Obama's mother was thus named Stanley, wtf!

skateboards are the new combover (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 5 November 2015 16:04 (four years ago) link

heh – I watched it years ago thanks to Baldwin.

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 5 November 2015 16:09 (four years ago) link

John Huston and Davis both thought it was a stinker; they're wrong.

skateboards are the new combover (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 5 November 2015 16:12 (four years ago) link

five months pass...

Saw The Whales of August at MoMA yesterday; at least it's (somewhat) better written than On Golden Pond. Lillian Gish is adorable, perhaps a tad too, and Davis, her face and movements altered by a stroke, is very Davis. When she's thrashing around in bed having a nightmare, she's very wraithlike; something out of A Chinese Ghost Story.

http://www.wearysloth.com/Gallery/ActorsD/4286-21021.gif

we can be heroes just for about 3.6 seconds (Dr Morbius), Monday, 25 April 2016 15:33 (three years ago) link

what struck me when I saw it years ago is how Davis looked older than Gish.

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 25 April 2016 15:36 (three years ago) link

Yeah, she had more health problems; died 3+ years sooner.

we can be heroes just for about 3.6 seconds (Dr Morbius), Monday, 25 April 2016 15:38 (three years ago) link

Vincent Price was charming. The movie's pace was on Geritol though.

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 25 April 2016 15:41 (three years ago) link

Price's stagy Russian accent came and went.

we can be heroes just for about 3.6 seconds (Dr Morbius), Monday, 25 April 2016 15:45 (three years ago) link

I watched a weird one from 1956 the other night: Storm Center. She's a small town librarian who refuses to remove a pro-communism book from her shelf and gets caught up in a red witch hunt. Co-starring Brian Keith and Good Ol' Mister Wilson from Dennis The Menace, Joseph Kearns. Overwrought and not very good, but kind of fascinating nonetheless.

Double Nickels on the Pecunidigm (Dan Peterson), Monday, 25 April 2016 16:33 (three years ago) link

ten months pass...

I rewatched Baby Jane, and in addition to being funny, frightening and in total command of her body language, the early scene where she's dazily singing "Letter to Daddy" and then crumbles in grief when she looks in the mirror is genuinely crushing.

Supercreditor (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 15 March 2017 03:35 (two years ago) link

also, the Self-Styled Siren had some things to say about Feud, Baby Jane, camp, Davis and Crawford:

"A lot of the story about [Davis and Crawford] goes back to a book by Shaun Considine called Bette and Joan: The Divine Feud. It's written in a very lively manner — and it's very erratically sourced.

"The TV series is going with the worst stories about what went down on that set. As far as I know, [director Robert] Aldrich later said that they were really very well-behaved on set. They didn't like one another, but they both needed a hit. They weren't going to endanger that with diva-ish tantrums....

"(What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?) was meant to be a commercial hit, but I do think it was meant to be taken seriously. Both of those women were taking it intensely seriously. They're playing it at a very high pitch of emotion and drama, but that does not mean that they're camping it up. Quite the opposite. I've never regarded this movie as camp."

http://www.mtv.com/news/2988210/feuds-sacred-monsters/

Supercreditor (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 15 March 2017 16:17 (two years ago) link

Terrific interview. I had a problem with the Bass-esque credits too (I got distracted and didn't watch last week's episode and indeed have seen none of them).

the Rain Man of nationalism. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 15 March 2017 16:38 (two years ago) link

one year passes...

Interesting write-up of The Scientific Cardplayer, mentioned upthread: https://mubi.com/notebook/posts/the-forgotten-beating-bette

Spirit of the Voice of the Beehive (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 27 December 2018 05:48 (eleven months ago) link

ten months pass...

This is how you introduce a star!!! pic.twitter.com/GQzMsSyeqZ

— Peter Labuza (@labuzamovies) November 3, 2019

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Monday, 4 November 2019 15:26 (one month ago) link

Was glad to catch her bad girl bit in Fog Over Frisco, especially the breezing through the nightclub scene that follows the intro above.

Briania, Monday, 4 November 2019 16:21 (one month ago) link

four weeks pass...

Jamie Lee Curtis:

Bette Davis! So, I lived in a building in Los Angeles called the Colonial House, and it was referred to as the Dakota West. Bette Davis lived in the building, along with other filmmakers. At twenty-seven, I became the president of the board. Nobody wanted the job, and I was, like, “I’ll do it.” I’m very organized.

And so, two things. One, Miss Davis would call me in July and August, saying, “I want the heat.” I’d be, like, “I’m so sorry, Miss Davis, it’s not possible, because it’s July, and it’s a hundred and five degrees, and we’re all dying, and I can’t turn on the boilers.” She goes, “*I want the heat*.” She would lay by the pool in a big black hat and a black maillot bathing suit with high heels, black sunglasses.

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/the-new-yorker-interview/jamie-lee-curtis-has-never-worked-hard-a-day-in-her-life

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Monday, 2 December 2019 15:24 (one week ago) link


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