Showing posts with label Bette Davis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bette Davis. Show all posts

Sunday, January 22, 2023

The Classic Film Collective: Career Women in Love: Ex-Lady (1933), The First Hundred Years (1938) and Woman of the Year (1942)

This was originally published in the former The Classic Film Collective Patreon.

As someone who appreciates classic movies while also watching them through a contemporary lens, I look for the subtle or not so subtle signs of feminism in early films. I want to see how the role of women evolved over the 20th century and how Hollywood packaged these portrayals for mass consumption. Woman of the Year (1942), George Stevens’ delightful comedy starring Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, is one of those films that has an interesting feminist angle which is then canceled out by the ending. And yes you can love a movie even though you hate how it ends. Hepburn plays Tess Harding, a successful newspaper correspondent specializing in international affairs. Tracy is the sports writer with whom she falls in love. Their marriage can’t withstand Tess’ hectic schedule and their impasse is resolved in just the sort of way you would expect of a 1940s Hollywood film. I’ve watched this film many times over the years, sometimes skipping the ending and imagining another outcome for Tess. Compromise is a key element to relationships, on screen and off, but usually it’s the women who have to sacrifice something. And for a working woman it’s giving up her career to raise a family. The ending is never a surprise. Hollywood liked to keep the status quo. However, the joy in watching these early films about career women in love are those moments where the woman stands her ground, planting seeds of dissent in an otherwise male dominated world.

“I don’t want to be like my mother, the yes-woman for some man. I want to be a person of my own.” Bette Davis as Helen in Ex-Lady (1933)


There are two 1930s films that broach the same subject matter and face the same dilemma. Ex-Lady (1933), a Pre-Code directed by Robert Florey for Warner Bros., stars Bette Davis as Helen Bauer, a talented illustrator who is at the top of her game. She’s in a relationship with Don (Gene Raymond) but refuses to marry him. Instead they live “in sin”. When keeping up this lifestyle becomes too much, Helen agrees to marry Don and that’s when everything goes haywire. Don’s talent agency takes a nosedive and the two begin to see other people. The story is partly inspired by the real life relationship of writers Edith Fitzgerald and Robert Riskin, who were also in a long-term relationship in which they lived together but remained unmarried (Riskin went on to marry actress Fay Wray). Bette Davis has some great lines in this film questioning the institution of marriage. She finds it dull and fears that it will strip away both their independence and individuality. There are two key scenes early on in the film when Davis and Raymond contemplate their relationship. Davis declares ”no one has any rights about me except me.” At the time, Davis was fighting Warner Bros. for better parts and eventually faced the studio in court. According to film historian Sloan De Forest, Davis accused “the studio of ‘slavery’ by forcing her into ‘mediocre pictures.’ Bette lost the court case, but she won Warners’ eventual respect…” Even though Davis looked poorly upon Ex-Lady, in many ways she was playing herself.: a successful woman who craved the independence that a studio contract/marriage would deprive her of.

“Can I love you and still be interested in something else?” - Virginia Bruce as Lyn in The First Hundred Years (1938)

When I was shopping the Warner Archive Collection’s final 4 for $44 sale (you can watch my haul here) I discovered a film I had never heard of: The First Hundred Years (1938). It’s an MGM film directed by Richard Thorpe and starring two of my favorite actors of that era: Robert Montgomery, Virginia Bruce and Warren William. Reading the synopsis the film immediately reminded me of Ex-Lady and I quickly added it to my shopping cart. Virginia Bruce plays Lynn Conway, a top talent agency at a big New York City firm. She is highly sought after by authors, actors and directors to land theatrical gigs and regularly travels to Hollywood to book movie deals. Robert Montgomery plays her husband David, a shipbuilder who receives word that there is a job waiting for him in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Neither of them want to give up their jobs or the marriage but something here has to give. Because we’re now in the era of the strictly enforced Hays Code, The First Hundred Years is stripped of any of the sexual chemistry and innuendos that you’ll find in Ex-Lady. Where Raymond and Davis lust for each other in the Pre-Code film, Montgomery and Bruce have a sweet and tender romance. Any lust is relegated to secondary characters like Warren William who plays the hard-drinking talent agent and Binnie Barnes who plays a socialite trying to steal Montgomery’s David away from his wife. And yes The First Hundred Years has just the sort of ending you would expect. However, it doesn’t quite feel like a disappointment. Perhaps because the film does a good job at slowly distancing the female protagonist from her job so she can be more consumed with the social aspects of her life.

As a married career woman myself I find this sub-genre of classic movies endlessly fascinating and I’ll always be on the lookout for more. Even if I know exactly how they’ll end.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Interview with Kathryn Sermak, author of Miss D & Me: Life with the Invincible Bette Davis

I've had the pleasure of interviewing Kathryn Sermak, Bette Davis' former assistant and author of the memoir Miss D & Me: Life with the Invincible Bette Davis. I met Kathryn at her book talk and signing at the Harvard Coop back in November of last year. She was very kind and gave everyone a bookplate modeled after the one Davis used in her own library. Miss D & Me is now available in paperback from Hachette Books. 

Raquel Stecher: How did you come to meet and work for Bette Davis?

Kathryn Sermak: It was June 1979 and I had just finished working for the Shahs Sister of Iran, Princess Pahlavi. At that time there was no organizations for personal assistants. Miss Davis was looking for someone to travel and assist her while working on a film being shot in England. Miss Davis hired Mr. Carlson, who had a company that serviced V.I.P.s. He had heard about me through the grapevine and the rest of the story is told in our book Miss D & Me.

Stecher: What was Davis like as your employer and your friend?

Sermak: In the beginning It was like “Boot Camp”. Miss D had her way of doing things that I thought we’re ridiculous and I had to learn her system. At 23, and a college graduate, I was no different than kids today - at that age one thinks they can conquer the world - the world is our oyster and I was hungry to venture out and discover it. Miss D on the other hand was 71 and felt I was unworldly and had a lot to learn. “Rough beginning make great endings” She would say. It’s through this journey, as I tell in our book, that the roles at times change (like when she had the stroke) and we became best friends. She could be so funny and loved playing practical jokes.

Stecher: Bette Davis lived an unapologetic life. What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about her?

Sermak: It wasn’t until after Miss D’s passing that I started to hear all these stories about her. Because she was so private - people often thought she was the character she played in the films. They loved the character she portrayed and would often see themselves in that role. In Miss D & Me - I show the private Miss D, the woman and all she stood for… She loved her family and her work were of the utmost important.

Stecher: What's an important life lesson Davis taught you that you still put into practice today?

Sermak: Miss D always said, "March to the beat of your own drum and follow your passion." "Trust your instincts-they’re never wrong." It so true, the latter took me longer to learn.

Stecher: What was your favorite memory with Davis?

Sermak: I have so many - are we discussing the funny times, learning the lessons, girlfriends chatting, dinner parties… there are so many that I discuss in the book - it’s hard to chose just one.

Stecher: A lot of my readers are big fans of TCM and loved Robert Osborne. Osborne and Davis were quite close at the end of her life. Do you have a happy memory of the two of them together to share?

Sermak: Oh I have so many. Bob, as I called him, Miss D’s nick name for him was “Bully.” Bob would call Miss D, “Spuds” because she loved potatoes - any type, shape or form. I just went through my scrapbook and some of Bob’s letters to Miss D - they shared so many wonderful times together. Never a dull moment. On one of his cards it reads, “You are a kindred spirit someone with whom words are not needed… Happy Memories, there were many as I mention in the book. Miss D making Easter bonnets for Bob to wear at her home and he’s playing with an Easter rabbit, she named Mr. Brier. They were good friends. He was a Taurus and she was an Aries. At times - they both could be stubborn but they had love and deep admiration for one another.

Stecher: What inspired you to write a book about your years with Bette Davis?

Sermak: It’s a promise I made to Miss D many years ago. She told me, “Kath, one day you must write about our story, book first then a movie.” I always said no. She said, "Oh, yes you will - promise me - it’s a great story and there’s much in it for everyone young and old to learn from.” You will write the book first and then a movie. I didn’t understand it back then, but over the years, reading her letters to me, listening to tapes, I matured and understood what I promised her I would do.

Stecher: You and Davis recorded your conversations. How did these tapes become the source material for your memoir? 

Sermak: When we recorded these conversations, it wasn’t that we were doing it for writing a memoir. We were living life in the moment. The tapes started when I moved to France to be with my boyfriend. Even though I spoke to Miss D regularly, I made them to introduce her to life in France and she recorded all the goings on at home - just like we were there in each other’s presence. Over time - some lead for me to interview her as a reporter- (next step for a possible job opportunity- new career) At that point, it was more Miss D always looking and empowering my growth, she often said, “if women could only be more supportive to other women instead of tearing them down - they would get a lot farther. Look at the men they support one another like in the old boys club days.” She did that for me way ahead of her time.

Stecher: What do you hope readers take away from your memoir?

Sermak: There’s so much in our story for the youth today can learn so much from the elderly and the elderly have so much to give. They’ve lived life, they want to pass on the lessons they’ve learned so the youth won’t make the same mistakes but new ones moving the world forward.

The baby boomers whose parents or dear friends hit illnesses - shows both sides of what the patient and the care giver goes through. There were no books on it at that time.

For women today, Miss D was a pioneer - way ahead of her time. She was very supportive of woman as I stated earlier and I tell many stories in the book about her mentoring me. And it’s about universal love. Your readers can check out: or on Facebook:

Stecher: Tell us about The Bette Davis Foundation, Inc. that you co-founded with her son Michael Merrill.

Sermak: We created The Bette Davis Foundation foundation to raise funds to award scholarships to aspiring actresses and actors, as well as talented students in a cross section of related fields within the entertainment industry. We gave the first Bette Davis Lifetime Achievement Award to Meryl Streep in 1998 at Boston University. One of the students from Boston University was the first recipient of the scholarship.

To learn more about the foundation please visit official website.

The Bette Davis Foundation
c/o Merrill & McGeary
100 State Street, Suite 200
Boston, MA, USA 02109
Phone: (617) 523-1760

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Giveaway: Miss D & Me: Life with the Invincible Bette Davis

Miss D & Me
Life with the Invincible Bette Davis
by Kathryn Sermak
with Danelle Morton
Hachette Book Group
288 pages
Paperback edition
On sale: September 11, 2018

AmazonBarnes and NoblePowells

What was Bette Davis REALLY like? Her longtime assistant Kathryn Sermak, who worked with Davis in the final years of her life, published a memoir offering a peek at the world of a legendary actress. Readers get an insight into a working relationship that blossomed into a sweet friendship. Sermak discusses how she got the job, her time with Davis, trips to New York and Paris, Davis' stroke, the publication of B.D. Hyman's scathing 1985 memoir and much more.

When the hardcover edition of Miss D & Me came out last year, I had the pleasure of seeing Kathryn Sermak at a Harvard COOP event where she had an audience Q&A and discussed her years with Davis and her journey to publication. When I went up to get my book signed, I briefly chatted with Sermak. She admired by TCM Classic Film Festival bag and told me an anecdote of Bette Davis's friendship with TCM's Robert Osborne (Davis called him "Bully" and she called him "Spuds").

Thanks to the good folks at Hachette Book Group, today I'm offering my readers an opportunity to get their hands on a paperback copy of Sermak's memoir!

President Ronald Reagan, Kathryn Sermak and Bette Davis (Robert Osborne in the background)

Publisher description: 

Miss D & Me is a story of two powerful women–one at the end of her life and the other at the beginning–and how they changed each other forever. 

 As Bette Davis aged, she was looking for an assistant, but she found something more than that in Kathryn Sermak: a loyal and loving confidante, a co-conspirator in her jokes and schemes, and a competent worker whom she trained to never miss a detail. 

 For ten years, Kathryn was at Miss D’s side–first as an employee and then as her closest friend. Throughout their time together, Kathryn had a front-row seat to Davis’s late-career renaissance, as well as to the humiliating public betrayal that nearly killed her beloved boss and benefactor. Miss D & Me is an intimate account of the last years of the unique and formidable Bette Davis–a tale of extreme kindness, unfailing loyalty, breathtaking style, and the beautiful friendship that endured through it all.


Open Internationally!

Three winners will receive a paperback copy of Miss D & Me

Contest ends Sunday September 3rd at 11:59 PM EST

To enter: 
Please leave a comment below telling me what your favorite Bette Davis movie is and why. 
Also leave your e-mail address in the comment so I can contact you if you win.

Three winners will be selected at random on Monday September 4th and will be announced below. I will also contact winners privately via e-mail. All e-mail addresses will be edited out of the comments after the contest is done to honor your privacy. Must be 18 or older to enter.

Good luck!

Congratulations to:

Brittaney B.
Shelley F.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

It's Love I'm After (1937)

"I can't understand why a man I'm so crazy about takes such a fiendish delight in tormenting me." - Bette Davis as Joyce Arden

They hate each other. They love each other. Stage actors Joyce Arden (Bette Davis) and Basil Underwood (Leslie Howard) have the most tempestuous romance. Under the lights and in front of an eager audience they deliver stunning performances, but backstage things can get ugly. After one rousing rendition of Romeo and Juliet, Basil is cornered by an infatuated fan. What he doesn't realize is this is no ordinary fan. She's wealthy socialite Marcia West (Olivia de Havilland). She truly believes she's in love with Basil, much to the dismay of her fiancee Henry Grant Jr. (Patric Knowles).

"Love for breakfast. Love for lunch. Love for dinner."

When Henry confronts Basil about this dilemma, Basil offers to help. Especially to repay the debt Henry's father paid him when the stock market crashed back in 1929. As Basil and his butler and partner-in-crime Digges (Eric Blore) act out one of Basil's original plays, Henry has an idea. Basil should visit Marcia's family and cause such a ruckus that she'll fall out of love with him. It'll be exactly like a performance in a play! But there are two major obstacles awaiting Basil. He doesn't realize that the woman he's fooling with dramatics is the same fan who visited him in his dressing room on New Year's Eve. Also Basil promised Joyce that they'd get married on New Year's Day and she's about to throw his plans for a loop. Can Basil save Henry and Marcia's relationship and his own or will it all end in tragedy?

"From now on I doff the mantle of a Romeo and assume the role of a cad." - Leslie Howard as Basil Underwood

Based on the original story by Maurice Hanline called Gentlemen After Midnight, It's Love I'm After (1937) was directed by Archie Mayo for Warner Bros. The project was born out of Leslie Howard's request for a comedic vehicle. He needed a break after a succession of dramatic roles, one of them which happened to be Romeo in MGM's Romeo and Juliet (1936). Olivia de Havilland, a fairly new contract player for Warner Bros. had recently appeared in Mayo's Call It a Day (1937). Two years later de Havilland and Howard appeared in Gone With the Wind (1939) together, clinching their status as Hollywood legends. De Havilland was added to the cast pretty early on and in fact they started shooting scenes with her, Knowles, Howard and Blore even before a leading lady was secured.

Getting a leading lady for the film was easier said than done. Leslie Howard initially wanted Ina Clare or Gertrude Lawrence, two stage veterans, to appear opposite him. In the end, neither had the screen presence to be viable options. Howard had worked with Bette Davis in Of Human Bondage (1934) and the Archie Mayo directed movie The Petrified Forest (1936). The two didn't get along and Howard was hesitant about working with her again. But if they wanted an actress who sparkled on screen they could do no wrong with Davis. When Davis was cast, the production was already well on its way. In fact, a July 1937 issue of Screenland shows behind-the-scenes pictures of the making of the film but does not mention Bette Davis whatsoever. Her character appears more so at the beginning and end of the film so plenty of scenes could have been shot without her. Before It's Love I'm After, Davis was hospitalized for exhaustion. She took a tumble into the orchestra pit during the filming of the Romeo & Juliet scenes and suffered a minor injury.

When I came across this movie, I was immediately drawn by the star power. Davis, Howard AND de Havilland? Of course I had to watch this! All three play to their strengths. Davis as the tempestuous actress who runs hot and cold, Howard as an actor's actor and de Havilland as a starry-eyed youth with a tender heart; not a stretch for any of them by any means. And one of my favorite child actors, Bonita Granville, plays to her strengths as the bratty spoiled teenager.

But it's not Davis, nor Howard, nor de Havilland, nor Knowles nor even boisterous little Granville who steals the show. It's character actor Eric Blore. If you enjoy Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies, Blore is a familiar face. He often played waiters and butlers and in It's Love I'm After he plays Digges, Howard's underpaid but devoted assistant. The script really gave Blore many moments to shine. He's got a lot of terrific scenes, delivers some great lines and serves as both straight man and comic throughout the story. He's the most sensible character but he's also caught up in the magic of the theater. Blore's Digges anchors the movie and I'd go so far as to say he's the #1 reason you should watch it.

It's Love I'm After (1937) is a zany film with lots of great witty one-liners and insults. Come for Leslie Howard, Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland and stay for Eric Blore.

It's Love I'm After (1937) is available on DVD-MOD from the Warner Archive Collection. When you use my buy link you help support this site. Thanks!

Warner Archive Wednesday - On (random) Wednesdays, I review one title from the Warner Archive Collection. I purchased It's Love I'm After (1937) from the WB Shop.

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Whales of August (1987)

Lillian Gish and Bette Davis in The Whales of August  (1987)

"Passion and truth -- that's all we need." - Sarah

Sometimes you need strong voices to tell a quiet story.

Actresses Lillian Gish and Bette Davis were two forces to be reckoned with in the film industry. Gish and Davis helped usher the medium in its earliest days and broke down misconceptions of what actresses were capable of. Throughout their many decades in the business, the two had never worked together and remarkably hadn't even crossed paths. It wasn't until 1986 when they would come together to make the swan song of their respective careers: The Whales of August (1987). It would be the final completed film roles for both actresses (Davis appeared in one more film but did not finish her part).

Set on an island off the coast of Maine circa the mid-1950s, The Whales of August is a gentle tale of two elderly sisters, Sarah Webber (Lillian Gish) and Libby Strong (Bette Davis), vacationing in their summer home. Both widowed, Sarah tends to Libby who is now blind. The two sisters couldn't be more different from each other. Sarah is an optimistic and gentle soul who enjoys the small things in life and the company of good people. She especially loves the romantic attention she gets from the handsome and recently widowed Mr. Maranov (Vincent Price), whose pension for old customs charms her. Libby has grown bitter in her old age and senses death is just around the corner. She chides Sarah and others for insignificant things because she's not capable of letting herself be happy in her current state. Their lifelong friend Tisha (Ann Sothern) often stops by to gossip with the ladies and offer some unsolicited advice. Local handyman Joshua Brackett (Harry Carey Jr.), who is a little too loud for his own good, also stops by to help the sisters tend to their beautiful cliff side home. We follow these five souls over a few days in August, the one month out of the year when you can see the whales from the coast line.

Ann Sothern and Vincent Price in The Whales of August (1987)

As a lifelong New Englander, I've always been drawn to quiet stories like these. Simple tales about simple lives are sometimes the most potent. When you strip down everything down to its essentials and you focus on the emotional lives of people there is much to uncover. Everything is felt much more acutely because the events in your life aren't fighting with a lot of other stimuli for attention. As a teenager in the throes of the angst of my own simple life, I was drawn to the stories of Louisa May Alcott, Henry James, Thomas Hardy and Jane Austen and would have been enthralled by The Whales of August. It would have spoken to me in a more profound way. Today I live a busy and stressful life and sometimes long for a simpler existence and I get in touch with my past with movies like this.

The Whales of August came out at a time when home video had reinvigorated interest in both classic film and the many aging stars who were still with us. Films like On Golden Pond (1981) and Cocoon (1985) were showcasing older stars in lead roles. Producer Mike Kaplan, who had worked with Lillian Gish on the set of The Comedians (1967), wanted to find a starring role suitable for the elderly actress. Kaplan attended the off Broadway premiere of David Berry's play The Whales of August in Rhode Island and immediately thought this was the perfect story not only for Lillian Gish but for Bette Davis as well. Davis turned down the role of Libby Strong and so did Katharine Hepburn and Barbara Stanwyck. Davis had been sick after a stroke and a mastectomy when she was strong enough again she became interested in the role and it was hers.

For the role of Mr. Maranov, John Gieguld was on board but due to a scheduling conflict he had to bow out and was replaced by Vincent Price. For the part of Tisha, Kaplan was reluctant to hire Ann Sothern who had become partly immobile due to a stage accident. Sothern won him over and uses a cane to get around in the film. The part seemed destined to be hers considering she named her own daughter Tisha. In fact, Tisha Sterling appears in the film as the younger version of the role her mother plays. Price will simultaneously charm you and break your heart. He brings a gentleness and old school charisma to the part.

Lillian Gish's Sarah and Bette Davis' Libby were roles that seemed custom made for the two actresses. Gish was adept at playing parts of women who were gentle in nature yet strong in spirit. In an interview during the filming of the movie Davis claimed that she had no connection whatsoever with Libby and that it was just a part. But one can see that an older Davis was very much like Libby cantankerous, feisty yet vulnerable. It's marvelous to watch both of these legends so effortlessly play these parts not just because it suited them but because of what they could convey. Ann Sothern's Tisha is the quintessential small town socialite. She received an Academy Award nomination for her role and it ended up being her final film.

This film was never going to be a blockbuster. A story about isolation, loneliness, growing old in a small community isn't going to draw many to the cinema. Instead, The Whales of August was a passion project for Kaplan, director Lindsay Anderson and writer David Berry. The ending of the play was changed for the movie per director Lindsay Anderson's request and to make the film more receptive to movie audiences. It was also an opportunity for legendary actresses Gish and Davis to once again play leading roles. For Vincent Price, who hadn't been working on much for a while, it was an opportunity to do something different. In an interview he said, "I felt the things I was being offered were already done." Price admired the writing, the dialogue and the heart of the play. He went on to say, "Maine is basic America." The setting itself is its own character. The film was shot on location at the Pitkin house on Cliff Island near Portland, Maine.

Filmed in September and October of 1986, Lillian Gish was 93, Bette Davis 78, Vincent Price 75, Ann Sothern 77 and Harry Carey Jr. 65. This is an opportunity to watch five legends who had vastly different careers come together in one beautiful movie.

If you've ever been hesitant about watching this film, whether it's a fear of exploring the complexities of growing old or seeing your favorites in such an advanced state. The Whales of August is a compelling movie with a lot of heart and reassures us that there is a good life to be led even at the end of our time here on earth.

The Whales of August (1987) was recently released on Blu-Ray and DVD from Kino Lorber. This edition comes packed with extras. I particularly liked the 1 hour and 12 minute piece that includes on set interviews with the five main players Price, Gish, Sothern, Carey and Davis in that order. Davis' interview is difficult to watch because she gave the poor interviewer such a hard time. Other extras include on set interviews withLindsay Anderson, Mike Fash, Jocelyn Herbert, other interviews with Mike Kaplan, Mary Steenburgen, Margaret Ladd and Tisha Sterling, as well as audio commentary with film critic. The Blu-Ray quality

Many thanks to Kino Lorber for sending me the Blu-Ray of The Whales of August for review!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dark Victory (1939)

Dark Victory (1939) is a tear-jerker to end all tear-jerkers. Judith Trahearne (Bette Davis) has been diagnosed with Glioma by Dr. Frederick Steele (George Brent). Glioma is a type of brain tumor that when malignant almost certainly means a death sentence. It's pretty serious and we as the audience are full aware of this as we watch Judith deal with her impending death at the tender age of 23. This film showcases Bette Davis' talent as an actress. She's expressive, emotive, delivers dialogue well and her character is so believable that it seems only Bette Davis was meant for this role. In the role department, Humphrey Bogart didn't fare as well as George Brent or Geraldine Fitzgerald in this movie. Bogie plays Michael O'Leary (he again tries an accent, this time Irish and doesn't quite manage to get it right), Judith's resident stable man and horse trainer. He looks after her prize racing horse, tends to all the horses in the stable as though they were his children and coaches Judith in her equestrian pursuits. He appears in the beginning of the film, a couple of times throughout and towards the end but only has one notable scene towards the climax of the film when Judith is in utter despair. It's at this point Michael reveals his love (in my opinion it's only lust) for Judith and she in turn reveals her tragic fate. It's not the best role for Bogie but he did well with it. The role is definitely not as bad as Ronald Reagan's character Alec who is a perma-drunk party-goer who acts like a leech around Judith, filling her (and himself) up with drinks and only sticking around when the going gets fun. At least there is Ann King (Geraldine Fitzgerald) as the voice of sympathy and caring to balance things out. This really isn't Bogie's movie, it's Bette Davis'. It's a movie that almost didn't get made because Jack Warner didn't want to make it. Lucky for us, Bette Davis didn't take no for an answer.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Marked Woman (1937)

Living in a culture that glorifies stupidity, I am always happy to watch brains win over brawn. In the case of Marked Woman (1937), Mary (Bette Davis) is a party girl at Club Intimate (I don't need to elaborate anymore do I). She's a smart dame but chose the hapless job because it makes a lot of money. Money which Mary uses to fund her young sister's college education. Club Intimate has been taken over by Vanning (Eduardo Ciannelli), a mobster with a toe dipped into pretty much every seedy and profitable business in the city. Vanning sees that Mary is smart. He tells her so as do other characters. What Mary has is the ability to see things for what they are and see where they are going and to keep herself out of trouble. Vanning is the source of trouble but his major flaw is that he's blood hungry and stupid. When he buys Club Intimate, he asks what the word "Intimate" means.  Why don't they just call it what it is? Just say it in English! Vanning's got a lot of brawn. He muscles and kills his way through everything with the help of his even dumber goons. But this time he's met his match. Because Mary's got brains and so does the District Attorney (Humphrey Bogart). This is a great film, one that really showcases Bette Davis' natural spunk and draws out a softer yet still hard-nosed performance out of Bogie. 

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Forbidden Hollywood Collection, Vol 2 on TCM Monday night

Madly preoccupied with homework, it completely slipped my mind that the Forbidden Hollywood Collection, Volume 2 is out on DVD this week Yay! It features 2 Norma Shearer classics, a Blonde Bette Davis film as well as an early Stanwyck. Pretty much everything to make a Pre-code fan like me jump with glee.

If you simply cannot wait for the DVD to be out on the 4th, TCM is featuring all the films including the added documentary Monday night!

The Divorcee (1930) ~ 8:00 pm (EST)
Night Nurse (1931) ~10:45 pm (EST)
Three on a Match (1932) ~ 12:00 am (EST
A Free Soul (1931) ~ 3:45 am (EST)

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