Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB. USA, 1941. The Samuel Goldwyn Company. Screenplay by Lillian Hellman, additional scenes and dialogue by Arthur Kober, Dorothy Parker, Alan Campbell, based on the play by Lillian Hellman. Cinematography by Gregg Toland. Produced by Samuel Goldwyn. Music by Meredith Willson. Production Design by Stephen Goosson. Costume Design by Orry-Kelly. Film Editing by Daniel Mandell. Academy Awards 1941.
The best you’ll ever get of Bette Davis playing bad is in this superb adaptation of Lillian Hellman’s unforgettable play. She plays a southern matriarch who, along with her two brothers, is interested in investing herself in a new properties scheme that she believes will make her extremely rich. Unfortunately, her meek husband (Herbert Marshall) doesn’t believe it worth the risk and insists he will keep his money in the bank where it is safe. Not one to be thwarted in her financial passions, Davis takes advantage of his advancing heart disease until it is possible for her to completely push him her way in the matter, not realizing the effect her devious behaviour will have on her relationship with her seemingly-innocent but blossoming daughter (Teresa Wright). Beautifully photographed in rich black and white tones, this excellent Warner Brothers classic has excellent period costumes and marvelous dialogue that just gets better with time.