Tuesday, 13 November 2012

The First Bitch of Cinema

Oh yes, the one and only Miss Bette Davis.

I'm off work this week and indulging myself with lots of tea, biscuits and knitting....and old movies of course.  Might even start reviewing them again if I can be bothered but at the moment I'm just too relaxed. *happy sigh*

The Badger and I had planned a jaunt abroad, and I am a little miffed that I'm still in bloody London, but we WERE going to go to Venice which would have been a mistake given the current flooding and, bonus upon bonus, with some of the money saved I have purchased the most extraordinary 1930s evening gown which I am just dying to show you.  It is currently on its way over from America-land.  Squee!

Anyway - back to to divine Ms Davis.  Bette is to me, along with Missy Stanwyck, one of Hollywood's finest.  More depth than either of the Hepburns, more fire than Garbo.  Sigh, I just adore her.

Today after getting in from an extremely achy and cold run around Hackney I decided to finally watch a recent download: "Stardust - the Bette Davis story" - a somewhat dated TCM documentary.  Golly, it was worth watching - lots of fabulous anecdotes and great visuals.  My title refers to Bette's own comment that her character in "Of Human Bondage" was really cinemas first "leading bitch rather than leading lady".  Oh, Bette could do bitchy, and they key to her bitches was a glorious combination of the melodramatic and the subtle.  This woman could express all emotion without moving a muscle or speaking a word.

We often celebrate modern actresses for their "bravery" when taking on a less than glamorous role - for example Charlize Theron in Monster or Cameron Diaz in Being John Malkovitch.  It is seen as bold and is an almost certain way to get oneself critical acclaim if not an award.  But, as usual, Bette did this first.  She was, in her own words, not bothered about what she looked like "as long as I looked like the character."

For a lady with such a lot of poise and glamour - she had taken to heart her theatre training where she was told to always walk tall, always consider every movement - she was not afraid to "ugly up" for a good part.

Mildred in Of Human Bondage

Charlotte Vale in Now, Voyager

Queen Elizabeth I - obviously
As an old maid in... The Old Maid
As Baby Jane. 
If I have to tell you what film this is you can just unfollow my blog.  Ta.  ;-)

To even the balance I'm also going to post some glamour shots.  No, I don't mean boobs out, get your head out of the tabloid gutter people.  Tut tut.

Right, I'm off to go and set my hair and pluck my eyebrows even thinner in homage.

Happy Tuesday everyone.


  1. Replies
    1. I always try and slip a cat in somewhere. :-P

  2. I love her eyes, so dramatic and unique. They are the feature that always reminds me of her.

  3. I've always loved that last photo of her that you've posted - she's so pretty and angelic in that one.

    My Favourite Bette films are All About Eve and Whatever Happened To Baby Jane

  4. I LOVED Now, Voyager. I need to watch it again. And I started watching Baby Jane last month on TCM but couldn't finish it! She is really and truly fantastic. And All About Eve! I'm swooning.

  5. Best part of this post was "america-land. Squee!" Just choked on my tea laughing in a silent office. haha. x