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Was *Bette Davis greater then *K. Hepburn, Garbo & *I. Bergman of all-time Hollywood actresses?

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:wub:    Posting this one for obvious reasons today. & though I personally respect & regard *Davis-(or as *Tracy once called her "BET") I'm not a big fan of her acting style myself, though she must be ranked among the all-time greatest motion picture actresses anyway

 

But, who personally would rate her over contemporaries *Katharine Hepburn, Greta Garbo, *Ingrid Bergman and others???

 

The majority of industry people vote for *Kate, where critics seem to go for *Bergman & Garbo is also touted from industry people-(i.e. *Kate, Dietrich, *Jimmy Stewart & others)

 

 

(P.S. "Pvt. Lives of Elizabeth & Essex" is airing right now & I rank that as her overall high note of performances & as all know she wasn't nommed for it, the *AMPAS favoring 1939's "Dark Victory" performance instead?)

 

 

THANKS

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Yes.  I'll take her over those other three.  I like them but I don't think they were capable of searing the screen the way Bette did in her "bumpy night" speech in "All About Eve," or the speech she made kneeling before Fonda in "Jezebel," or the physical presence to come down those steps shooting the way she did in "The Letter," or, for that matter, come down the steps on the ship in "Now Voyager."  The other three were great in their way, but not compared to  Bette Davis. 

 

That doesn't mean I think she was perfect. I thought she was too high-pitched and shallow in, "Mr. Skeffington."    I don't think she could play soft characters as well as Olivia De Havilland and I don't think anyone is as great all around as Barbara Stanwyck.   But better than those three?  IMHO, yes.

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I feel she's effective in most of her films and I do like her but yes, she seems overrated at times.

 

Sylvia Sidney is an overlooked actress from the same generation, and I think if TCM had greater access to Paramount films, people would be talking about the greatness of Sylvia Sidney. 

 

So Bette gets overrated because she and her films are slightly overexposed but she certainly wasn't the only good actress of her era.

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Yes.  I'll take her over those other three.  I like them but I don't think they were capable of searing the screen the way Bette did in her "bumpy night" speech in "All About Eve," or the speech she made kneeling before Fonda in "Jezebel," or the physical presence to come down those steps shooting the way she did in "The Letter," or, for that matter, come down the steps on the ship in "Now Voyager."  The other three were great in their way, but not compared to  Bette Davis. 

 

That doesn't mean I think she was perfect. I thought she was too high-pitched and shallow in, "Mr. Skeffington."    I don't think she could play soft characters as well as Olivia De Havilland and I don't think anyone is as great all around as Barbara Stanwyck.   But better than those three?  IMHO, yes.

 

Well said.   I would also add the Davis 'mellow' performances in films like All This and Heaven Too,  The Corn is Green and other films.   Davis's early work in Human Bondage,    Marked Women,  and Border Town.        Davis and Stanwyck are my two favorites with DeHavilland on their heels.  

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Sorry but I really don't have the interest in trying to decode your comments SA.

 

I just wanted to stop in and say after reading the T.V. commentary in the closed thread(s) that there was  some good commentary in that/those threads both Pro and Con.  I can see both sides but think youth is needed to keep the old moves alive and I for one welcome our young hot T.V. overlords:).

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I would say yes, she was greater than the three named in this thread.  Davis was willing to take risks, to play the aging Queen Elizabeth to gorgeous Flynn's Essex, to play "ugly" in Now Voyager, and totally evil in In This Our Life and The Little Foxes, an unrepentant liar and adulteress in The Letter, the vain, aging beauty in Mr. Skeffigton.   She dared to be ugly, unsympathetic, and over-the-top.  Hepburn for most of her career was playing a version of herself, and while I admire Ingrid Bergman and Greta Garbo, these were women of great beauty and mystique who played women of that type.  Bette had the nerve to pull out the stops and really play the character.  Plus, she had the best way with a line -- who else could speak that great dialogue in All About Eve?  By today's standards, some of her performances are over-acted, but no other actress approached such roles with guts the way she did; she pulled out all the stops.  
 

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I'm going to agree with most of what rosebette noted below.  I do like much of the work of Bergman and some of Garbo's, but Davis' range was much broader, so yes, of those she is the "greater".  I find the Hepburn comparison more complicated.  I do wish that Davis had done more romantic, light comedy in the way of JUNE BRIDE, which I find delightful.  She could have had an entirely new period in her career with work along the lines of BRIDE and EVE, rather than her career taking the course that it did.  I can imagine her in something like THE DESK SET.  But I guess that was not in the cards for an actress of her age at the time.

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I guess it's all subjective, coming down to "who would I really rather watch"? and for me, Bette Davis would definitely win out over Hepburn and Bergman, and definitely Garbo. but even strictly in terms of acting chops, I'd give the nod to Davis. and, apparently like a lot of people on here, I'd have to say that in terms of all around range and talent, nobody tops Stanwyck. 

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I'd say Stanwyck beats them all!

 

Lydecker

 

I guess I would like to know why the Stanwyck fans are so ardent. What makes people like her so much?

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I'm going to agree with most of what rosebette noted below. I do like much of the work of Bergman and some of Garbo's, but Davis' range was much broader, so yes, of those she is the "greater". I find the Hepburn comparison more complicated. I do wish that Davis had done more romantic, light comedy in the way of JUNE BRIDE, which I find delightful. She could have had an entirely new period in her career with work along the lines of BRIDE and EVE, rather than her career taking the course that it did. I can imagine her in something like THE DESK SET. But I guess that was not in the cards for an actress of her age at the time.

Bette Davis' greatness lay in her willingness to take risks, as mentioned here, both in the roles she chose and in the way she allowed herself to be portrayed. She immersed herself totally into the character, something rare at that time among Hollywood stars. Her penchant for playing unattractive, shrewish or evil beings, while giving her much personal satisfaction, must've also precluded her from being considered for romantic comedies, as she aged into a rather matronly woman in the late 50s and into the 60s. She probably wouldn't've been offered or even considered for something along the lines of DESK SET, and she possibly wouldn't have wanted to do these types of films in any case.

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I guess I would like to know why the Stanwyck fans are so ardent. What makes people like her so much?

 

Stanwyck could do it all.  I never quite believed Bette Davis when she did comedy but Stanwyck could go from Phyllis Dietrichson to Jean Harrington (The Lady Eve) without missing a beat.  Amazing!  I love Bette Davis and Katharine Hepburn (and Hepburn could do comedy as well as drama) but Hepburn became way too mannered as she went on.  Barbara Stanwyck was consistently fantastic in multiple genres.  Frankly, when it comes to "my favorite," that would be Myrna Loy, but Stanwyck wins "most versatile," hands down.

 

Lydecker

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Stanwyck could do it all.  I never quite believed Bette Davis when she did comedy but Stanwyck could go from Phyllis Dietrichson to Jean Harrington (The Lady Eve) without missing a beat.  Amazing!  I love Bette Davis and Katharine Hepburn (and Hepburn could do comedy as well as drama) but Hepburn became way too mannered as she went on.  Barbara Stanwyck was consistently fantastic in multiple genres.  Frankly, when it comes to "my favorite," that would be Myrna Loy, but Stanwyck wins "most versatile," hands down.

 

Lydecker

 

Thanks for weighing in on Stanwyck. I do think she succeeded in multiple genres. It helped that she freelanced almost her entire career. She was employed at every studio, and she had access to all kinds of scripts as well as the chance to work with a variety of directors and costars. That's where she is light years ahead of the Davises and Hepburns. 

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Joan Crawford was always entertaining. I'm so disappointed she didn't appear in HUSH HUSH SWEET CHARLOTTE.

 

Isn't it because Bette's misbehavior drove her away? I also think it's a shame, because it probably would have turned out better than BABY JANE.

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I'd go for Bette Davis. From Of Human Bondage up through Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte she played a wide variety of parts (including comedy) and for a while dominated the box office like no other actress ever did ... this side of Mary Pickford. An era of great actresses and great roles for them. Yes I'd include Greta Garbo, Ingrid Bergman, Katharine Hepburn, Barbara Stanwyck.... also Joan Crawford, Claudette Colbert, Irene Dunne, Miriam Hopkins, Kay Francis, and if we included the 1920s I'd add Marion Davies.

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