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All About Bette Davis: A Centennial Tribute

Synopsis:

April 3 - 6


All About Bette Davis: A Centennial Tribute

This series is an Aero Theatre exclusive!

Bette Davis was one of the most unconventional movie stars of all time, yet she was also -- and continues to be -- one of the most beloved. At a time when women were expected to be glamorous and demure on screen, Davis was tough, unapologetic and usually smarter than the men with whom she shared the screen. She was also able to infuse the most melodramatic material with a sense of absolute authenticity, a talent that's evident in many of the classics to be screened at the Aero in celebration of her 100th birthday. From her most famous classics (JEZEBEL, DARK VICTORY) to later gems like THE WHALES OF AUGUST (the only one of her films we’re showing where she was not Oscar-nominated!), this series is essential viewing for anyone who loves Bette Davis -- or movies in general, for that matter.



Thursday, April 3 – 7:30 PM

Double Feature:

JEZEBEL, 1938, Warner Bros, 103 min. Bette Davis won an Oscar for her performance as a tempestuous Southern belle torn between her prime suitor (George Brent) and the man she truly loves (Henry Fonda). In addition to the top-notch performances, director William Wyler provides some gorgeous set-pieces, from the dance to which Davis wears her scandalous red dress to a sequence depicting the yellow fever epidemic.

THE LETTER, 1940, Warner Bros, 95 min. Dir. William Wyler. CASABLANCA co-writer Howard Koch adapted Somerset Maugham's play about the wife of a plantation owner who commits murder and then enlists the aid of local colonialists to cover it up. Bette Davis gives one of her great performances as the killer, eliciting the audience's sympathy for a woman who, on the surface, hardly deserves it. With Herbert Marshall as her mortified spouse.



Friday, April 4 – 7:30 PM

Double Feature:

DARK VICTORY, 1939, Warner Bros, 104 min. If one film could be said to sum up Bette Davis's greatness, this might be it: She gives her definitive performance as a wealthy socialite who learns she is dying and then tries to cram a lifetime of experiences into one summer. This is Hollywood melodrama at its best, with expert direction by Edmund Goulding and solid supporting work from Geraldine Fitzgerald, Ronald Reagan and Humphrey Bogart.

NOW, VOYAGER, 1942, Warner Bros, 117 min. Dir. Irving Rapper. In yet another classic Bette Davis soap opera, the great actress plays a repressed spinster who finds love with Paul Henreid after psychiatrist Claude Rains encourages her to embrace life. Max Steiner's Oscar-winning score provides just the right amount of operatic emphasis in this manipulative but undeniably effective, intelligent Hollywood sudser.



Saturday, April 5 – 7:30 PM

Double Feature:

ALL ABOUT EVE, 1950, 20th Century Fox, 138 min. A scintillating showbiz yarn laced with bitchiness and back-stabbing, director Joseph L. Mankiewicz's multi-Oscar-winning masterpiece pits middle-aged Broadway mega-star Margo Channing (glorious Bette Davis in one of her greatest roles) against smooth-talking, two-faced wannabe Eve Harrington (a perfectly evil Anne Baxter). A timid, mousy fan who ingratiates her way into Margo's inner circle, ambitious Eve wastes no time stealing Margo's spotlight and her man. Never fear: Margo takes nothing lying down, and Bette's arsenal of immortal lines is unmatched -- not to mention costumes and make-up that cemented her place as a drag icon. A superb supporting cast (including Celeste Holm, George Sanders, Marilyn Monroe and hilarious Thelma Ritter) brings New York's theater set to life with razor-sharp precision and dialogue that glitters with sophistication and cynicism. If you've never seen it before, "Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night."

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?, 1962, Warner Bros. 134 min. Forget about its reputation as a camp classic; this first-rate study of the most dysfunctional siblings in cinema history is a classic, period. Bette Davis is chilling as a washed-up child star who passes the time by torturing her invalid sister Joan Crawford, and Robert Aldrich's direction crosses horror with film noir to create one of the most chilling yet darkly comic masterpieces of all time. With the great, underrated Victor Buono in probably his most memorable role (he was Oscar-nominated as supporting actor, as was Davis, for actress).



Sunday, April 6 – 7:30 PM

Double Feature:

THE WHALES OF AUGUST, 1987, Alive Films, 90 min. Dir. Lindsay Anderson. Bette Davis joins another screen legend, Lillian Gish, for this lovely tale of two sisters spending the summer, as they have for 60 years, on a picturesque island off the coast of Maine. Lindsay Anderson displays a deep love for Hollywood's past with his casting here, which includes not only Davis and Gish but veterans Vincent Price, Ann Sothern and Harry Carey Jr. A profound meditation on aging and a tribute to Hollywood's past, this is perhaps the best of Davis' later films.

THE LITTLE FOXES, 1941, Samuel Goldwyn Films, 115 min. The same year that he shot CITIZEN KANE for Orson Welles, cinematographer Gregg Toland crafted some equally impressive images for this powerful portrait of family intrigue, based on a Lillian Hellman play. Bette Davis is a ruthless member of a Southern clan facing financial decline, and she's backed up by a stunning supporting cast that includes Dan Duryea and Teresa Wright in their film debuts. Director William Wyler pioneered a new form of screen realism with his subtle but elaborately designed deep-focus compositions in this essential film.

 

Genre:

Drama