Hell’s House

BB.5 (out of 5) A teenager (Junior Durkin) loses his mother in a ridiculous traffic accident (a car mows her down in front of her farmhouse), so he goes to live in the big city with his aunt and uncle.  Knowing his relatives to already be struggling financially before having to take on the burden of…

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Dangerous

BBB (out of 5) Popular opinion had it that Bette Davis was overlooked by the Academy for her performance in Of Human Bondage, so she was easily expected to garner her first of two trophies for this film, essentially the same role but written by a far less conspicuous writer than the great Somerset Maugham. The truth…

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Watch On the Rhine

BBB (out of 5) Lillian Hellman’s play is adapted to the screen by Dashiell Hammett with respectable results, giving Bette Davis another chance to prove herself queen of Warners dramas and winning Paul Lukas an Oscar for his noble performance.  They play a couple who leave Germany as Nazi terror is brewing ever more noisily, bringing their…

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June Bride

BB (out of 5) Low-point in Bette Davis‘s career, the box-office results of this film were one of the reasons she was labeled ‘poison’ in the late forties before her comeback with All About Eve two years later (actually the term was used by movie studios to tell a woman, for it was never used…

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Mr. Skeffington

BB.5 (out of 5) As with many similar soap opera films in which Bette Davis appeared, this one provides her with a magnificently juicy role while being in itself a grand bore. She plays a society bitch who mistreats everyone for decades (thanks to very impressive ageing makeup) until she finally gets the chance to make…

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Vito

BBBB.5 (out of 5) Sixteen years after the excellent documentary The Celluloid Closet, based on the book by Vito Russo, comes this superb documentary about the life of the man himself. It’s a riveting exploration of the inspiring and impressive use he made of his tragically short time on this earth: the beginnings of his…

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Another Man’s Poison (1952)

IRVING RAPPER Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.  United Kingdom, 1952.  Angel Productions.  Screenplay by Val Guest, based on the play Deadlock by Leslie Sands.  Cinematography by Robert Krasker.  Produced by Daniel M. Angel.  Music by John Greenwood.  Production Design by Cedric Dawe.  Costume Design by Julie Harris.  Film Editing by Gordon Hales. Bette Davis co-stars with real-life husband Gary Merrill in this enjoyably noir-ish drama.  She plays…

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Now, Voyager (1942)

IRVING RAPPER Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.  USA, 1942.  Warner Bros..  Screenplay by Casey Robinson, based on the novel by Olive Higgins Prouty.  Cinematography by Sol Polito.  Produced by Hal B. Wallis.  Music by Max Steiner.  Production Design by Robert M. Haas.  Costume Design by Orry-Kelly.  Film Editing by Warren Low.  Academy Awards 1942. One of Bette Davis‘ greatest Warner Bros. melodramas is this…

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The Corn Is Green (1945)

IRVING RAPPER Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.  USA, 1945.  Warner Bros..  Screenplay by Frank Cavett, Casey Robinson, based on the play by Emlyn Williams.  Cinematography by Sol Polito.  Produced by Jack Chertok.  Music by Max Steiner.  Production Design by Carl Jules Weyl.  Costume Design by Orry-Kelly.  Film Editing by Frederick Richards.  Academy Awards 1945. This fully vibrant adaptation of Emlyn Williams’ successful stage play is…

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Phone Call From A Stranger

BBB (out of 5) After a plane crash takes the lives of several people, survivor Gary Merrill takes it upon himself to meet with all the victims’ families and tell them of his last moments with their loved ones. An excellent ensemble cast, including Shelley Winters and a small role by Bette Davis (Merrill’s wife at the time),…

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The Petrified Forest

BBBB (out of 5) Early Bette Davis classic is one of the best stage adaptations to come out of Hollywood in the thirties. Leslie Howard plays a motorist who stops in for car repairs at a service station in the middle of nowhere. He gets to know the waitress working there (Davis) while waiting for his car…

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Three On A Match (1932)

MERVYN LeROY Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.  USA, 1932.  First National Pictures.  Story by Kubec Glasmon, John Bright, Screenplay by Lucien Hubbard.  Cinematography by Sol Polito.  Produced by Samuel Bischoff, Darryl F. Zanuck.  Music by Leo F. Forbstein.  Production Design by Robert M. Haas.  Costume Design by Orry-Kelly.  Film Editing by Ray Curtiss.   Fascinating example of how different Hollywood films were before the introduction of the…

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