Bette Davis: The Performances That Made Her Great

Bette Davis: The Performances That Made Her Great

by Peter McNally


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Bette Davis: The Performances That Made Her Great by Peter McNally

Bette Davis, whose career spanned almost 50 years and covered theatre, radio, TV and motion pictures, was at one time the first lady of the big screen. Working with such storied performers as Henry Fonda, Humphrey Bogart, and Joan Crawford, and directors Edmund Goulding, William Wyler and Robert Aldrich, Bette Davis provided some of the most memorable performances in movie history.
This volume contains detailed analyses of Bette Davis’ top twelve films spanning 1938 to 1987 and including The Letter, All About Eve, The Little Foxes, Jezebel, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and The Whales of August. Each film is discussed in depth, with an examination of its script, direction, camerawork and performances, particularly as they relate to Davis’s work. A second group of films, memorable largely for Davis’s performance rather than the overall success of the work, are also examined. Special emphasis is placed on the way Davis viewed her own work as well as the detrimental effect her devotion to her career had on her personal life. Appendices contain a list of her marriages and children; her Oscar nominations; a discussion of Davis’s missed opportunities; and a partial chronology of her films.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780786434992
Publisher: McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers
Publication date: 02/29/2008
Pages: 263
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Retired educator Peter McNally lives in Buffalo, New York.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Preface 1

Introduction 3

The First Tier

1. The Letter (1940), A TALE OF A LIAR 9

2. All About Eve (1950), BEST PERFORMANCE 22

3. Dark Victory (1939), ACTING VICTORY 38

4. The Little Foxes (1941), STAR VERSUS DIRECTOR 51

5. Now, Voyager (1942), A WOMAN OF INDEPENDENCE 63

6. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), HOLLYWOOD HORROR IN KABUKI 78

7. A Piano for Mrs. Cimino (1982), A CONCERTO FOR DAVIS 91

8. The Old Maid (1939), THE 19TH CENTURY AND ILLEGITIMACY 102

9. The Virgin Queen (1955), AGAIN, A QUEEN 114

10. The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939), FIRST AND FOREVER A QUEEN 123

11. The Whales of August (1987), THE GREATEST STAR AND THE GREATEST STAR 131

12. Jezebel (1938), THE LEGEND BEGUN 140

The Second Tier


14. In the Final Analysis 221

Afterword 231

Appendix I: Personal Data 233

Appendix II: Nominations and Awards 235

Appendix III: The “Woman’s Picture” Factor 237

Appendix IV: Missed Opportunities 239

Appendix V: Film Chronology 241

Chapter Notes 243

Bibliography 247

Index 249

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