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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Video Beaverhausen: Bette Davis Is The Star

The Star stars Bette Davis, Sterling Hayden and a teenaged Natalie Wood. It is reportedly a roman a clef about Joan Crawford. Bette has a field day.

Bette is a down-on-her-luck movie star. Like Crawford, she has a mooching mother and brother. "Don't you understand?" she screams out at them in the best Bette bravado. "I'm broke! Cold, flat, stony broke!"

The film was made in 1952, the year I was born. I never saw it until it played one night, at the old Theatre 80 St Mark's Place in the '70s.

The film has numerous highlights. Like Bette's drunk driving calamity with her Oscar on the dashboard, as if it were her St Christopher icon. She winds up in a women's prison where she has to share a cell.

And then there's her disastrous attempt at a comeback in a serious but unglamorous co-starring part. She decides to tailor her costume to make it more form-fitting. (As Ms Crawford was known to do.) Bette has Crawford's mannerisms and "blessings" to the crew down pat. Impossible to watch these scenes and not see she's caricaturing Crawford with great relish.

Bette's Margaret Elliott is one of her best characterizations, made between her hits All About Eve and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane. Her scenes with Hayden (who's quite the hunk in this) and Wood (for whom Davis had great affection) are wonderful.

The Star is a self-destructive one, but that makes great drama. She sacrifices the love of a simple, adoring man for her career. It was scripted by a husband/wife team who knew Crawford well.

Highly recommended. On dvd and on download from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

1 comment:

  1. I loved her in this picture.......i loved the ending where she is judged approvingly for her aged but strong face rather than a superficial beauty. She had seen it all by then in life. She turned down the part for Hayden. Resurfaced fame vs the hunk? you decide.