18 August 2009

First Look at the Greats, part I

Last night I was watching Marked Woman for the gazillionth time and started to think about my Bette Davis obsession. I'm not sure exactly how it happened, or when....but it's been lovely so far.

I don't know when I first heard the name Bette Davis. Probably in the film book my sister bought for me when I was little. I remember reading from it and calling her "Bette" (Oh drat...that doesn't work here...only in speech, huh?) as in Midler. My mother corrected me and I thought to myself "What a cool spelling." Later I learned she thought so too. :)

The first time I saw Bette Davis was in All About Eve. I was twelve, I think, and was looking for old movies to buy. I'd heard a lot about the script (I still think it's the best), and also about Bette Davis. So I bought it, watched it, and searched for adjectives to describe it. Marvelous, uproarious, was everything I'd wanted in a movie (Yeah, I know...sounds lame, but that was really how I felt). I knew at once why it was considered a classic.

Anyway, sometime after that I was shopping for movies and saw What Ever Happened to Baby Jane on the shelf. I remember thinking what an awesome cover it had, with that creepy poem and broken doll's head. So I bought it. wonder Kim Carnes sang that song.

At the time, I found it remarkable that the lady from Baby Jane was the same woman who'd been in All About Eve. Which clinched the obsession, I guess. From that point on I've never looked back (well, I mean, except for ;)

My absolute favorite picture of Bette.

Seriously, this woman could not get any cooler.

Do you have a favorite Bette memory?


Christopher said...

welcome back! :o)...I like that top pic of seen IT before..I always enjoyed catching Ms Davis on talk shows later on..She never dissapointed,always a bit of a caricature of her characters..

Lolita said...

From the first time you see Bette Davis your either stuck, or hate her. I was stuck. All About Eve is as near a perfect movie you can come, without it getting pretentious (like Citizen Kane). I can't get tired of it. And Bette Davis... Well, she rules.

I also bought Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? because of the cool cover and the scary rhyme on it! "Sister, sister - oh, so fair. Why is there blood all over your hair?", right? Could give you nightmares!

C.K. Dexter Haven said...

It's my firm belief that any girl who has Bette Davis as her hero can not be pushed around.

I share the same fond memories as Christopher, because when Bette made the talk show rounds, even 12-year-old me tuned in! Of course, I knew who she was, though not necessarily her movies, but I thought "What a dame!"

Have you read the book "All About All About Eve" by Sam Staggs? It's essential reading for every Bette/All About Eve fan.

Juliette. said...

Christopher-- Me too! She really was lovely, I think. But with her it didn't even matter, she was that cool. :)

Haha, agreed about that statement.

Lolita-- Exactly. I was stuck as well (obviously, haha). Terrific point about All About Eve. I couldn't agree more. Just watching the trailer for that one is a joy.

Yup-- that's the rhyme! Fabulous, isn't it?

CK-- That's a great belief. Hear, hear! :)

Haha, that's marvelous. Yeah, she really was a character...such a strong personality, and great fun to watch.

Ooh, no I've not read that, but will definitely add it to my cart, so to speak.

AbbyNormal said...

I only fell for Bette in the past few years, but boy, I fell hard. There is something so scrappy about her and I love a scrapper.

Juliette. said...

Haha, what a marvelous way to put it! What movie did it for you?

Artman2112 said...

well dont you just get hella-cooler by the minute! Bette is so freakin AWESOME! i am a HUGE fan of hers and in fact i think if i were to pick the single greatest actress ever, i would pick her (and Olivia and Barbara, because we can never really pick just ONE can we?).
you sure started off right with All About Eve, just a tremendous picture on every level and in my opinion the oscars REALLY blew it that year giving it to Judy Holiday (yeah she was good but no where near the caliber of what Bette did in that film!)
i caught a good portion of Jezebel a few weeks ago on TCM and i was instantly reminded of how beautiful bette could and often did look in the 30's (like that awesome 5th pic you posted here, wow, never saw that one before!). not "starlet" beautiful but something that's hard to describe... suffice it to say she was fiercely talented and did it all with style to burn....and those eyes, omg!

btw, your blog wont let me click on pics to enlarge them (even though the little 'hand' icon is there), is this normal?!?!?!?!?

Juliette. said...

Haha, why thanks. Back at ya. :)

Definitely agree about the OScars that year. Seems she was hurt not only by Gloria Swanson, but also by Anne Baxter. Eleanor Parker also did a marvelous job in Caged though, so who knows? It's a shame, but then again she did win on other occasions.

You put that very well, and I agree wholeheartedly. A different kind of beautiful.

Hm, I dunno...I'll look into it.

AbbyNormal said...

Juliette - I would love to say something cool here by citing an edgy or perhaps more rare movie, but like most others, my first Bette movie was "All About Eve". I was hooked and moved on to many others since then. Her early years knock me out like "The Cabin in the Cotton" or "Jimmy the Gent" because she was so fresh looking! I had no idea she was a part of the platinum blonde brigade back then! Every stage of her career - she evovled - she built upon her talent and strengths. Even if you don't like her, I think ya gotta respect her. My new motto: "Respect the BettE!" :-)

jwalker said... denying she is one of the all-time greats...and 'no nonsense' put it mildly! honestly, I have not seen too many of her pics (but plan to...again, I REALLY need to 'catch up')... did catch 'bits and pieces' of the 'Bette-thon' TCM had a few weeks ago, and more specifically, caught the 'biography' deal made about her... she didn't take anything from anyone, that's for sure! And with Crawford in 'Baby Jane' (I HAVE seen that one...a while back, tho...) just a classic (albeit quite 'intense') pairing.
Thanks for the write up... I need all the education I can get!!!

Christopher said...

"Ya didn't eat'cha din din"muahahahaha..I always felt sorry for Joan in this..

Juliette. said...

Abby-- Haha, that's great...I know what you mean. But All About Eve really is a grand place to start, don't you think? It has everything...of my favorite movies, that one's stayed in the number one spot since the first time I saw it.

JWalker-- Definitely. I'm oh so jealous-- wish I had TCM so I could've seen the biography of her. I can imagine how wonderful it was. You're quite right...she certainly did stand up for herself.

Christopher-- Ha! Love that of my favorite quotes ever, thanks for sharing.

Meredith said...

that is my favorite picture of bette as well! she was just so fierce. the only random bette connection i have is that she died on my first birthday. :(

Juliette. said...

Oh no! That's a pretty sad connection, but it's cool that you two were in this world at the same time (albeit for a short period).

Princess Fire and Music said...

I was a "late bloomer" when it comes to classic films -- didn't discover them until I was 18. I'm pretty sure my first Bette film was All About Eve; it's certainly my favorite (film of all time, that is). I loved everything about it, but her performance really knocked me off my feet.

I realized just how hooked I was on what would have been her 100th birthday, when TCM aired a 24-hour marathon of her films. This was only a couple of months after I'd first started watching classic movies, but I sat down at 10 a.m. to watch The Private Lives Of Elizabeth And Essex and didn't get off the couch until 4 the next morning, when I forced myself to go to bed after Dangerous.

Juliette. said...

18 doesn't sound like late bloomer to me-- when you're 40 you can say you've been a classic movie devotee for over 20 years! ;)

I'm beginning to think All About Eve is the best intro to Bette.

Haha, wow. Not only am I mega jealous that you have TCM, but I'm also loving the Bette loyalty.

Anonymous said...

hi. okay i just wanted to add that i am so thankful i stumbled across your page! i am going through the same situation friends favorite movies are superbad and borat. i tried them on gone with the wind...they liked it so so. VIVIEN LEIGH IS NOT SO SO! well bette is my absolute favoirite, ever. your favorite pic of her is my favorite pic too! i have it on my bedroom wall (: