5 DVD Box Set of Davis, Bogart, Rains, Wyler & N. Woods
"Now, Voyager," (1942) "Dark Victory," (1939) "The Letter," (1940) "The Star," (1952) & "Mr. Skeffington" (1944) are included in this 5 DVD Box set of late '30's thru early '50's movies that star Bette Davis during her acting prime.
"Now, Voyager," stars Bette Davis transforming from a mother-smothered high-brow matron into a raving beauty. Davis wasn't known to use her natural beauty to make of herself a 'star'. Instead, she was determined to become the greatest 'actor' of all time, using skill & talent, experience & absolute professionalism. When Charlotte Vale (Davis) first steps forth transformed into a gorgeous lady on a cruise ship, it is, perhaps, the first time an audience has the opportunity to see her playing a role as drop-dead gorgeous. Davis earned her 6th Oscar nomination & Max Steiner won an Oscar for Best Original Music Score. (See my review of "Now, Voyager," for more plot & cast detail).
"Dark Victory" is 1 of several films with Bette Davis & Humphrey Bogart playing leading role lovers. Davis & Bogart are well matched in this show. The Warner box office hit about a woman going blind earned 1939 Oscar nominations for Best Actress, Best Picture & Best Original Score (by Max Steiner). Classic drama!
In "The Letter," Bette Davis & director William Wyler are collaborating again (they did the Oscar-winning "Jezebel" together in 1938). This received 7 Oscar nominations! Best Actress in a Leading Role, Bette Davis; Best Actor in a Supporting Role, James Stephenson; Best Cinematography, Black-and-White, Tony Gaudio; Best Director, William Wyler; Best Film Editing, Warren Low; Best Music, Original Score, Max Steiner; Best Picture. The plot is about an adulterous woman who murders her lover, then lies about it. But, there is a letter that could prove the truth. Wyler & Davis obviously could bring out the best artistry in the film cast & crew! That's what made them the greatest filmmaking collaborators.
During "The Star," Bette Davis takes the lead as a Hollywood has been, Margaret Elliott. The show is about Jim Johannson (Sterling Hayden), a boat mechanic & fan of Elliott's, teaching her that there's more to life. An adolescent Natalie Wood plays Gretchen, Elliot's daughter. During a classic scene, Davis uses one of her own Oscars, propped on the dashboard of Elliot's car & heads for the homes of the stars in Beverly Hills saying, "Come on, Oscar, let's you & me go get drunk!" Interestingly, this film earned 43yo Davis her 9th Oscar nomination.
. . . And for her 8th Oscar nomination, starring as Fanny Trellis, Bette Davis marries into a loveless marriage--to Job Skeffington (Claude Rains) an older, well-off, Jewish banker-- in order to rescue her little brother, Trippy (Richard Waring), from an embezzlement trial. While she's married the flamboyant & beautiful seducer of many men suitors is proposed to over & over again. Mr. Skeffington shows each of them in & out of his (& her) own home's front door! In many ways this movie is a comedy. But, towards the end, you'll learn why it's also a choice romance between Davis & Rains that is a tear-jerker. Rains was 1 of the few actors from whom Davis couldn't steal the show. As Mr. Skeffington, Claude Rains holds his own lead quite admirably well & was nominated for the 1945 Oscar as Best Supporting Actor.
It's a challenge to guess whether this Volume 1 Bette Davis collection is better than Volume 2. Because of that conflict, I had to own both (and more).~Read full review