The Virgin Queen

BBB.5 (out of 5) Bette Davis played Queen Elizabeth I twice in her career, first in The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex and then again sixteen years later in this costume soaper. While Essex was a much better film, this one gives Davis a better role. Elizabeth’s affair with Sir Walter Raleigh is the central…

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The Man Who Came To Dinner

BBBB.5 (out of 5) Excellent comedy about a crotchety old newspaper columnist (Monty Woolley, recreating the role he played on Broadway), who, wheelchair-bound after having fallen and broken his leg, is invited to a socialite’s home for a meal. The host family finds itself in a tizzy preparing for the occasion until the gentleman finally…

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Return From Witch Mountain

BB (out of 5) Weak sequel to the superhit original will be enjoyed by children only. The two kids with mystical powers from Escape To Witch Mountain have returned, a couple of years older and ready to enjoy some time in the big city away from the pressures of genetic superiority. They arrive in Los…

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Watcher In The Woods

BB.5 (out of 5) This one’s a fun spooker for the kids, while adults will find it corny and anticlimactic.  Bette Davis has a glorified cameo (though she’s top-billed) as an elderly woman who rents out her countryside estate to a family of four. After moving in, one daughter starts to see mysterious things happening on…

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Dead Ringer

BB.5 (out of 5) It’s hard to contain Bette Davis into one role, so from time to time you’ve got to give her two. Playing twins for the second time in her career (the first time in A Stolen Life in 1946), this so-so melodrama has her once again doing a good sister-bad sister routine. The…

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The Star

BB.5 (out of 5) Times were obviously getting tough for Bette Davis following her coup in All About Eve. One of the best roles she played before Whatever Happened To Baby Jane ten years later was in this forgettable soap opera about (you guessed it!) an ageing star who is having trouble getting work in Hollywood….

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All About Eve

BBBBB (out of 5) Here’s perfect writing if ever a movie ever had it. Bette Davis plays famous and established actress Margo Channing, a self-centred but vulnerable woman who is pursued relentlessly by Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter), a seemingly innocent fan who worships Channing until she eventually becomes her personal assistant. Eve’s devotion soon becomes sinister,…

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Death On The Nile

BBBB (out of 5) Like Murder On The Orient Express before it, this is an energetic and enjoyable adaptation of an Agatha Christie murder mystery. A group of strangers, old aristocrats and young lovers among them, travel on a barge down the famed Egyptian river and are shocked when one of their passengers, a beautiful…

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Madame Sin

BBB (out of 5) Bette Davis has fun parading around as an Asian villainess in this enjoyable thriller. Robert Wagner plays a CIA agent who is ensnared by Davis’s Madame Sin, a sort of female Fu Manchu, who forces him to help her diabolical scheme. Resting in the confines of her grand Scottish castle, Madame…

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Dark Victory (1939)

EDMUND GOULDING Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.  USA, 1939.  Warner Bros..  Screenplay by Casey Robinson, from the play by George Emerson Brewer Jr., Bertram Bloch.  Cinematography by Ernest Haller.  Produced by Hal B. Wallis.  Music by Max Steiner.  Production Design by Robert M. Haas.  Costume Design by Orry-Kelly.  Film Editing by William Holmes.  Academy Awards 1939.   It always amazes me that my fellow campy queens…

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The Old Maid (1939)

EDMUND GOULDING Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.5.  USA, 1939.  Warner Bros..  Screenplay by Casey Robinson, from the play by Zoe Akins and the novel by Edith Wharton.  Cinematography by Tony Gaudio.  Produced by Hal B. Wallis.  Music by Max Steiner.  Production Design by Robert M. Haas.  Costume Design by Orry-Kelly.  Film Editing by George Amy.   Typical Bette Davis soaper has the great actress giving birth to a…

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The Great Lie (1941)

EDMUND GOULDING Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.5.  USA, 1941.  Warner Bros..  Screenplay by Lenore J. Coffee, based on the novel The Far Horizon by Polan Banks.  Cinematography by Tony Gaudio.  Produced by Hal B. Wallis.  Music by Max Steiner.  Production Design by Carl Jules Weyl.  Costume Design by Orry-Kelly.  Film Editing by Ralph Dawson.  Academy Awards 1941.   When Mary Astor and George Brent elope, they find out…

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