The Bette Davis Collection Vol. 3
More Fearless Roles… More Flawless Performances
Six Fully Restored and New to DVD Titles
On April 1st Warner Home Video (WHV) marked the return of the incomparable First Lady of Warner Bros., Bette Davis, with the debut of The Bette Davis Collection Volume 3 honoring the legendary actress on what would have been her centennial birthday. The six-disc gift set include six fully restored titles: In This Our Life; The Old Maid; All This, and Heaven Too; The Great Lie; Deception and Watch on the Rhine.
“Warner Night at the Movies,” an innovative DVD experience developed by WHV, will be included with each classic Davis film. These are special selections that help recreate the authentic movie-going experience of the time, with attractions like newsreels, cartoons and trailers from the years each film was released. There are also new featurettes; archival radio dramatizations; select commentaries and more.
Often dubbed the “Fifth Warner Brother” for her confrontational, take-charge approach, Bette Davis earned an impressive 10 Oscar® nominations (winning twice for her roles in Dangerous and Jezebel) during the course of her legendary 60-year career. Davis was born Ruth Elizabeth Davis on April 5, 1908 in Lowell, Massachusetts and made her Broadway debut in 1929 in “Broken Dishes” before settling in Hollywood in 1931. Following a short stint with Universal, she signed a long-term contract with Warner Bros. where she made more than 50 films and was the studio’s most bankable asset for nearly two decades. Her breakthrough performance (and first Oscar nomination) in Of Human Bondage opened the studio’s (and Hollywood’s!) eyes to her immense talent and led to such classic films as Dark Victory; The Letter; Now, Voyager; The Little Foxes and All About Eve. Davis starred in more than 100 films; was the highest paid woman in America in 1942; became the first female honored with the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award and was named the first woman president of the Motion Pictures Academy of Arts and Sciences.
About the Films
The Old Maid (1939)
Based on an Edith Wharton novel and Pulitzer Prize-winning play, The Old Maid tells the sad story of Charlotte, a woman whose circumstances force her to give up her illegitimate child and pose as the child’s “old maid” aunt, thereby facing a lifetime of maternal sacrifice. As Charlotte, Bette Davis gives one of her most nuanced performances, aging from wide-eyed girl to gray-haired martinet. Miriam Hopkins provides effective counterbalance with her portrayal of Charlotte’s effusive cousin, who raises the little girl. Two women, one child – and a brilliant example of melodrama as art. The music is by Max Steiner.
All This, and Heaven Too (1940)
Bette Davis is at the height of her phenomenal screen career, with co-star Charles Boyer in their only film together. The plot is rich in mystery and grand emotion; a powerful period drama honored with three 1940 Academy Award ® nominations, including Best Picture.
From Rachel Field’s fact-based bestseller, the story follows Henriette (Davis), governess at the Paris home of the Duc de Praslin (Boyer) and his jealous wife (Barbara O’Neil). When governess and nobleman are drawn to each other, the Duchess erupts in fury…and meets a bloody fate. Soon Henriette and the Duc face a world eager to believe that the Duc murdered his wife. And that gentle Henriette was a willing accomplice. The music is by Max Steiner.
The three stars (Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains) and director (Irving Rapper) of Now Voyager reunite for this glamorous, angst-ridden melodrama set to a thrilling Erich Wolfgang Korngold score. A favorite of Davis fans, Deception inspired one of the best-known reviews in movie history: “It’s like grand opera, only the people are thinner. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world” (Cecelia Ager, PM).
Based on Louis Verneuil’s 1928 play Jealousy, the film tells the story of pianist Christine Radcliffe separated from her great love, cellist Karel Novak by World War II. Unexpectedly reunited with him, Christine desperately strives to hide her wartime dalliance as the mistress of a wealthy, sadistic composer (Rains), with devastating results. The music is by Erich Wolfgang Korngold.
Watch on the Rhine (1943)
Lillian Hellman’s 1941 stage hit (adapted by Dashiell Hammett) retains its emotional and intellectual power in this suspenseful movie awarded the New York Film Critics 1943 Best Picture prize, and lauded as ”a distinguished film, full of sense, power and beauty” by the NY Times. The praiseworthy film about standing up for what is right, at all odds, stars Paul Lukas repeating his Broadway triumph as Kurt Muller, a German underground leader who arrives with his family in Washington, DC and soon finds the tentacles of Nazi terror have a very long reach. Lukas’ passionate performance earned him an Oscar„¥, beating out Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca and Gary Cooper in For Whom the Bell Tolls. Bette Davis, who took on the film because she believed in its importance, portrays Muller’s wife with ringing integrity. Lucile Watson as a socialite whose complacency is “shaken out of the magnolias” and George Colouris as a shady blackmailer also memorably reprise their stage roles. The film was nominated for 3 Academy Awards, ® including Best Picture. The music is by Max Steiner.
The Great Lie (1941)
Tempestuous, ambitious concert pianist Sandra Kovac (Mary Astor) shares a bond with down-to-earth Maggie Van Allen (Bette Davis) and her little boy Pete. Sandra’s chic New York friends can’t imagine what the two women have in common. What they don’t know is that Pete is actually Sandra’s son – and the son of the heroic aviator (George Brent) that both women love. Powerful emotions rage against a backdrop of powerful music in the film that earned Astor a 1941 Best Supporting Actress Oscar® for her stellar performance opposite the legendary star who always gives a tour-de-force performance. This story of a great passion, a great sacrifice…and a great lie showcases two great actresses. The music is by Max Steiner.
In This Our Life (1942)
Two-time Best Actress Oscar„¥ winners and lifelong friends Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland square off as sisters (guess who’s the bad one) in In This Our Life, a must-see for fans of melodrama at its juiciest. Director John Huston, fresh from his The Maltese Falcon success, includes a cameo role for his father Walter, just as he did in Falcon. And Max Steiner’s powerful music underscores the film’s driving emotional force.
What Stanley Timberlake wants, she takes. So, on the eve of her marriage to another, she runs off with her sister’s husband, the first of many betrayals that lead to disaster…and to a compulsively watchable brew of deceit, racial bigotry, latent incest and violent death. The music is by Max Steiner.
Bonus Features Include New and Vintage Featurettes, Archival Radio Dramatizations, Select Commentaries and More
Available from Warner Home Video and Amazon.com.