Classic Film : Favorite Bette Davis films

Favorite Bette Davis films

For me, there are too many to name, but these are certainly among my all-time favorites (chronological order, out of a 58 year career!):

Dark Victory (1939)
Now Voyager (1942)
All About Eve (1950)
The Catered Affair (1956) - one of her best performances, imo

The Whales of August (1987) - her penultimate film, highly recommended for those who haven't seen it. She and Lillian Gish play elderly sisters, and they are remarkable together.

Re: Favorite Bette Davis films

Of Human Bondage (1934)
The Petrified Forest (1936)
The Nanny (1965)
Burnt Offerings (1976)
The Dark Secret of Harvest Home (1978 miniseries; it's a crime that it's never been released on DVD)

Re: Favorite Bette Davis films

Loved her in Of Human Bondage and The Petrified Forest. Haven't seen the others. She was a one of a kind. Like Cary Grant, I think it's almost easier to pick the Davis films you don't like instead of the ones you do.

Re: Favorite Bette Davis films

A favorite of mine is The Man Who Came For Dinner.
It is a great Christmas movie, we snappy dialogue that includes all kinds of in side Hollywood barbs. And she is at her most beautiful.

The Man Who Came to Dinner

Oh, one of my all-time favorites, too! It's one of those films I can't not watch whenever it comes on tv. Wonderful cast and wonderful script. And Davis is perfect in her role. (And Ann Sheridan is perfect as her foil.)

Re: Favorite Bette Davis films

I liked her so much in The Petrified Forest for reasons that I'm not really certain of. She was just plain magical.

The Petrified Forest

Oh, I you're right! Magical is the perfect word for her, in that film, and in others, too. She was a real stand-out in the early days of her career. Not that she wasn't always, but back in those early days there was something about her that was so real and without artifice – that magical thing you're talking about. She wasn't afraid to look bad, a very uncommon thing for a movie star back in those days.

Re: Favorite Bette Davis films

This scene doesn't do the film justice though

She's not in the scene but this one I like most

There are many of her earlier films I haven't yet seen though

Re: Favorite Bette Davis films

So many great choices there, geewizzz. I'm a particular fan of her performance in Of Human Bondage (one of her best) and A Stolen Life. And I thought she was great in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, though that's not really my genre. Also enjoyed her (and her look then) in Cabin in the Cotton.

I don't think she ever gave a bad performance (and she did give a lot of great ones), though it goes without saying that she didn't always have the best scripts, especially later in her career.

A friend of mine was the prop man on one of her tv movies in the eighties, and he had to visit her in her hotel room on location to discuss something with her. The moment he arrived, she pounced on him and asked what he thought of the script. He knew it wasn't very good, but he didn't know what to say, so he hemmed and hawed before she cut him off and said, "Well, I think it stinks!" He loved her to pieces after that. It's a sad thing that a woman of her remarkable talent was relegated to some pretty mediocre films toward the end of her career. But that's Hollywood.

Re: Favorite Bette Davis films

The first thought that came to mind was The Little Foxes.

It is tremendously difficult for an actor to play such icy intensity throughout without turning the character into a one-note bore. Davis does the impossible and keeps us interested to the finish.

And This, Too, Shall Pass Away

Re: Favorite Bette Davis films

Could not agree more. She was exceptional at that, and not afraid to do it either. That's one of the things that distinguished her throughout her career.

And I think her performance in The Little Foxes is one of her all-time best. You are so right in your comments about her in that. I think she would agree.

Re: Favorite Bette Davis films

Of Human Bondage
The Petrified Forrest
Dark Victory
The Little Foxes
All About Eve
The Catered Affair
Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?
Hush Hush Sweet Charlot
The Nanny
Dead Ringer
Pocket Full of Miracles

And many more that I'm sure I can't think of at the moment.
I also like some of her TV guest spots like Perry Mason, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Wagon Train, and don't forget Laugh In.

Fasten Your Seatbelts….
It's Going To Be A Bumpy Night!

Re: Favorite Bette Davis films

Oh, she made so many wonderful films through the years. And as for the TV guest spots, I envy you, because I don't ever remember her seeing her in any - though my memory isn't what it used to be. That would be a treat, especially Laugh In ?? (big surprise with that one). 🙂

Re: Favorite Bette Davis films

Unfortunately, I couldn't find anything from Laugh In

Here are some clips of her other TV appearances.
This clip is from Perry Mason. He was out of commission in the hospital, so Bette played a lawyer who defends Micheal Parks.

Here's Bette up against Miss Kitty on Gunsmoke. You'll see Bruce Dern in this scene as well…

People sometimes think she was this diva, but she had no problem working in Television when TV was looked down on. Then again, she was getting older and the parts were getting scarcer, so in her mind, work was work. Little did she know that she still had a long way to go, and many more parts to play.

Fasten Your Seatbelts….
It's Going To Be A Bumpy Night!

Re: Favorite Bette Davis films

👏👏👏 Thank you so much, Margo!! What a treat. And, yes, work was work. But Meryl Streep, whose work was lauded by Davis very early on, always said it was a shame that by the time Bette made All About Eve she was on the downhill slope of her career because of her age. That's how it was back then, sad but true. But things have changed over time, and now we have lots of actresses who prevail into their sixties and some beyond who still manage to get wonderful roles. I just wish that could have been true for Ms. Davis.

Anyway, thanks for the gift. You have made my day!

Re: Favorite Bette Davis films

Loving classic film she's one of my favourite actresses to ever adorn the screens.

Now, Voyager

All About Eve

Burnt Offerings

The Nanny

Hush…. Hush, Sweet Charlotte

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane

Dead Ringer

The Virgin Queen

The Man Who Came to Dinner

Little Foxes

The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex


Satan Met a Lady

Just to name a few.