Lately, I’ve been dipping into a lot of classic movies starring Bette Davis: “Now, Voyager,” “The Letter,” “Hush … Hush Sweet Charlotte,” “The Star,” and the topper, “All About Eve,” which is tied with “Titanic” for the most Oscar nominations of all time. I’d always heard about Bette Davis and her turbulent relationship with Warner Bros. and her rivalry with Joan Crawford, but I wanted to check out her acting chops for myself … and she’s wonderful.
One thing that amazes me about classic movie stars is their looks. Women like Davis and Lauren Bacall are so unique in their beauty. Davis’ large eyes (that inspired a pop song decades later) and Bacall’s striking eye brows and high cheek bones. They’re looks are distinctive. (I remember seeing them portrayed in old cartoons along with Humphrey Bogart and Clark Gable.)
Bette Davis was sleek and intense, and she broke barriers for women in Hollywood. If you’re interested in taking a look at Oscar-worthy writing, acting and direction, check out “All About Eve.” The film takes a look at the ins, outs and cut-throat nature of theater, and in turn, Hollywood.
I saw a lot of parallels between “Eve” and “Being Julia,” starring Annette Bening (who was nominated by the Academy for Best Actress in this role.) Both films reveal the backward deals and revenge that come with reaching the top. (Spoiler alert:) I feel “Julia” was more triumphant: the heroine gets her payback and continues to rule in her craft, but in “Eve,” the ruthless ingenue succeeds – but what awaits her is an upcoming actress, much like her former self. We never see Eve get her payback, but the vicious cycle is made clear.
If you’re feeling up for classic themes or superior acting, I would recommend either of these movies or nearly any movie by Bette Davis. Next up for me is “Jezebel,” a film where Davis won her second and final Academy Award, though she had nine nominations to boot.
Here’s Kim Carnes singing “Bette Davis Eyes.”