Sunday, June 10, 2012


In 1981, you basically couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing the Kim Carnes song, “Bette Davis Eyes.”

Why do I bring this up?

I guess because I just couldn’t think of very much to say about the Bette Davis film, Now, Voyager. It’s a nice enough story about a woman finding herself and features some notable performances from a good supporting cast including the always reliable Claude Reins and is a definite showcase for Ms. Davis. There’s some pretty good dialogue (though at times it’s a little too mushy.) And James Cameron did steal the scene from this film for Titanic where Bette Davis is making out with her lover on a car hidden aboard a ship. However, this film probably wouldn't make my book, but it was made with more of a female audience in mind.

In 1981, the reputation of Joan Crawford took a hit with the release of the film, Mommie Dearest, that it still hasn’t recovered from. Even the DVD featurette on Joan Crawford says the first thing many people thing of when they hear the name Joan Crawford involves Faye Dunaway spitting out the line from the above film “No more wire hangers!”

But let us not forget that Joan Crawford was one of the biggest female stars in Hollywood for many, many years. Her Oscar winning performance in Mildred Pierce is (like Now, Voyager is for Davis) a real showcase for its lead actress. The film starts off like a film noir, but quickly becomes more of a domestic drama centering on the relationship between Mildred (Joan) and her daughter, Vera. Vera is played by Ann Blyth, who in the 70’s did a series of cupcake commercials that would always start, “This is Ann Blyth for Hostess,” though since most kids watching Saturday morning Hostess commercials probably hadn’t seen Mildred Pierce and didn’t know who the hell Ann Blyth was! But I digress.

After watching these two films, I wanted to rewatch (after about twenty-five years) the only collaboration between Davis and Crawford, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? This film was made during the 60’s when both stars were past their prime, but the film was a hit and still has a quite a cult following. Bette has the more showy role where she plays a former child star with severe mental and emotional problems. Joan plays Bette’s wheelchair bound sister who gets terrorized by Baby Jane on a regular basis. This film has more than its share of drama, horror and plenty of its share of camp as well. We also get to see the blustery Victor “King Tut” Buono in a memorable supporting role.

Just for the record, other Bette Davis films on the 1001 list include:
All About Eve

And some Bette Davis films I’m surprised aren’t on the 1001 Movie List include:
Of Human Bondage
Dark Victory
The Petrified Forest

Other Joan Crawford films on the 1001 list include:
The Unknown
Johnny Guitar

And some Joan Crawford films I’m surprised aren’t on the 1001 Movie List
Grand Hotel
The Women

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