Bette Davis would have been a hundred this past Saturday, and over on her indispensible Sunset Gun, Kim Morgan celebrates via a round-up of some of diva Davis’s most bad-ass bitchiest moments:
“She was a doll — a doll that could easily contend with Chucky, but a doll nonetheless. God knows she had those famous, buggy-beautiful eyes, silky skin and an ample chest, but Davis, like most women, lived with numerous imperfections. But she didn’t harp on these flaws or engage in diva delusions, instead she gleefully, sometimes perversely played up her problem areas. And it sometimes made her all the more attractive. In All About Eve, she’s supposed to be an insecure, aging star, yet even when a young Marilyn Monroe walks on (who looks like a peach, even after undoubtedly consuming numerous benzos and splits of champagne), you can’t take your eyes off Bette. And it wasn’t just her looks — it was her way. Everything Bette did — walking (in minced steps), talking (with exacting enunciation), smoking (in circular jabs) — she did with a flourish. Like Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo and the great Tallulah Bankhead (who really should have made more movies) Bette was her own unforgettable invention, an unconventional glamour-puss, who stands the test of time. Unlike sanctioned beauty, Bette’s particular magic is something that never fades
Please check out this piece in full here. Were Davis around to read it, I’m sure she’d approve, as Morgan knows what she’s talking about and dishes up her affection for the late star in prose both witty and acidic. (Plus, I can’t stop my gleeful imagination from picturing Davis playing Baby Jane and battling Chucky in some early 1980s New Line Cinema film that never was)
And it’s not on DVD yet, but something of Davis worth tracking down on VHS is “Ex-Lady“, a witty repartee-filled pre-code sex comedy (directed by Robert Florey) with Davis as a young urbanite commercial artist who prefers to shack up unmarried with her lover (Gene Raymond) rather than risk “ruining a good thing.” It’s one of those “still ahead of it’s time” scintillators that make today’s rom-coms seem like so much post-code neo-conservative propaganda in comparison. Not only that, but it’s very funny (as in witty and acidic) and Davis is actually a bona fide sexy babe (see photo).
So happy birthday, Bette! Long may your films inspire women everywhere to stop reigning in their inner bitchery and to become their own “unforgettable inventions.”