Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Part 3 of 6: Bette Davis.

Davis began working on the film, Marked Woman (1937), performing as a prostitute inspired by the case of Lucky Luciano.

The story is about Mary Stauber, a nightclub hostess who works for gangster Johnny Vanning. She becomes friends with a young man who tells her that he can not repay his gambling debt. She is shocked when she finds out that he has been murdered. Questioned by prosecutor David Graham, Mary and the other girls refuse to point a finger at Vanning, for fear of retribution. Mary's younger sister Betty, comes to visit and unaware of what is going on, behaves recklessly. When she is killed, Mary agrees to testify against Vanning. Beaten by his men, she becomes a "marked woman" which gives her the strength to testify against him and the other girls also agree to testify. The film and Davis's performance received wonderful reviews.

The film, Jezebel (1938), was a huge success for Davis. Her performance as a spoiled Southern belle earned her a second Academy Award, which led some to believe that she would be chosen to play the character, Scarlett O'Hara, in Gone with the Wind. For which Davis, very much wanted to play Scarlett and while David O. Selznick was looking for the actress to play the role, a radio poll picked her as the audience favorite.
Please click here to view Jezebel movie review.

She was very emotional because of her divorce during the making of her next film, Dark Victory (1939), and thought about not doing it until the producer Hal B. Wallis convinced her to channel her emotions into her acting. The film brought her an Academy Award nomination. Davis said this performance was her favorite.
 Please click here to view Dark Victory movie review.

She performed in many more successful films:

The Old Maid(1939). Set during the American Civil War, the story focuses on Charlotte Lovell and her cousin Delia, whose wedding day is disrupted when former fiance Clem Spender returns after being gone for two years. Delia marries Jim Ralston and Charlotte comforts Clem, before he joins the Union Army and is killed in battle. Shortly after his death, Charlotte finds out she is pregnant with Clem's child and travels to the West to have her baby. Please click here to read The Old Maid movie review.

The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex with Errol Flynn. To play the elderly Elizabeth I of England, Davis shaved her hairline and eyebrows.Please click here to view The Private Lives of Elizabeth movie review.

By this time, was given the most important of Warner Bros. female leading roles. She had many close-ups that showcased her distinctive eyes.

Please click here to view All This and Heaven Too movie review.
All This and Heaven Too (1940) was the most financially successful film of Davis's career to that point, while The Letter (1940) was considered one of her best pictures.

In the film the letter, she plays the wife of a rubber plantation administrator who, kills a man and says it is self-defense. Everyone seems to believe her. But.. A letter in her hand writing turns up and maybe her undoing.

William Wyler directed Davis in the film, The Little Foxes (1941). They clashed over the character of Regina Giddens. Wyler wanted her to soften the character and Davis refused to compromise her performance as Regina Giddons nee Hubbard, who is estranged from her husband. He is living in Baltimore and suffers from heart problems. But she needs him home, because of a shady business deal that she is putting together with her two brothers. She received another Academy Award nomination for her performance and never worked with Wyler again. Please click here to view Little Foxes movie review.


  1. I love this 6 part tribute to Bette Davis. You're doing a fanastic job Dawn. I have seen Marked Woman and Jezebel and loved them both. haven't seen the others yet. But I want to. Thanks for doing this Dawn.


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