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Roxana Anton

Who Was Bette Davis? And What Films to Watch (Forties Icon)

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Roxana Anton
Roxana Anton
 27 days ago

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Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

The Massachusetts-born, second-best actress of all times - classic Hollywood (after Katharine Hepburn) was also the first female to be 10 times Oscar nominee, as long as a controversial, strong figure of her time.

Bette Davis remains one of the most appreciated American film actresses, known for her intense, deep and strong acting style.

She is also one of my favorites, without though enjoying her films very much (personal opinion).

Davis gained a reputation as a perfectionist, which could often be very combative.

Numerous cases of confrontations between her and the heads of the studios, colleagues, directors, and producers are known. Her direct style, verbal manner, and an indispensable cigarette between her lips contributed massively to the image of her personality, which was often imitated and satirized.

In this piece, I want to bring out the woman, the character that she was in real life and her 100 films, behind all the dramatic female role leaders that she portrayed so well.

Davis was the co-founder of the Hollywood Canteen, but also the first woman to be president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Ruth Elizabeth Davis was attracted to the actress profession after seeing Rudolph Valentino in the 1921 film "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse", and Mary Pickford in the 1921 film "Little Lord Fauntleroy" and changed her name after the character "Bette" in Honoré de Balzac's "La Cousine Bette". (source: Wikipedia)

She was encouraged by her mother, who also wanted to become an actress.

The first time she was acclaimed by critics was in "Of Human Bondage" (1934), after a novel of Somerset Maugham, where she plays together with Leslie Howard.

Later, Bette Davis received her two Academy Awards for her roles in "Dangerous" and "Jezebel".

Davis is remembered for the many strong and complicated characters she played, for a remarkable sense of irony, for her large and expressive eyes - celebrated by the song "Bette Davis Eyes" - and for a great rivalry with actress Joan Crawford. (ilpost.it)

3 Movies to See Starring Bette Davis

As for today, I only liked three of her movies, and my favorite is "A Stolen Life", a movie that is not even remembered among her successes.

The picture is absolutely beautiful and remarkable, something you don't see in our days, probably because of its simplicity and complexity at the same time. A forgotten gem only for sensible hearts who crave a good romance story from time to time.

The second movie I like from Bette Davis is the famous "All About Eve", from 1951, which along with Titanic and La La Land is the only film to have had 14 Oscar nominations.

The film stars Bette Davis as Margo Channing, a highly regarded but aging Broadway star. Anne Baxter plays Eve Harrington, an ambitious young fan who maneuvers herself into Channing's life, ultimately threatening Channing's career and her personal relationships. (Wikipedia)

All About Eve was one of the first 50 films selected for preservation in the United States Library of Congress's National Film Registry, deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

All About Eve was ranked sixteenth on AFI's 1998 list of the 100 best American films. (Wikipedia)

The third Bette Davis film I liked is "Now, Voyager", I watched it for its strange title.

It's an enjoyable story of a young woman pressed by her mother. With the help of her doctor and family friend, she manages to escape by traveling.

She transforms into a lovely and stylish young lady, but everything changes again when she meets a very charming man, though married.

He falls in love with her, their travel together becomes somehow romantic and beautiful.

When she goes back to her mother, Bette needs to do some choices of her own.

I liked the movie for the sincere and pleasant dialogues, portraying characters that don't betray each other, even if they respect each other lives and life choices.

The movie has that simple, yet complex and elegant style, that I so much enjoy about the classics, and the movies of the Fourties.

They say the things that need to be said, without complicating things and without making everything a drama.