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Bette Davis Stars


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In her long film career, Bette Davis starred with A-listers like:

 

Joan Crawford

Henry Fonda

Richard Barthelmess

Debbie Reynolds

Mary Astor

James Cagney

Anne Baxter

Glenn Ford

Joseph Cotten

Marilyn Monroe

Lillian Gish

Paul Henreid

George Arliss

Paul Lukas

Humphrey Bogart

Pat O'Brien

Olivia de Havilland

Barbara Stanwyck

Herbert Marshall

Alec Guinness

Conrad Nagel

Claude Rains

Ronald Reagan

Ann Sheridan

Leslie Howard

Spencer Tracy

George Brent

Ruth Chatterton

Robert Montgomery

Warren William

Joan Blondell

Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.

William Powell

Charles Farrell

Frances Dee

Ricardo Cortez

Paul Muni

Franchot Tone

Edward G. Robinson

Errol Flynn

Miriam Hopkins

John Garfield

Charles Boyer

Teresa Wright

Ernest Borgnine

Susan Hayward

Karen Black

David Niven

Maggie Smith

Mia Farrow

Ann Sothern

Ann Dvorak

Vincent Price

and even Jimmy Durante

 

not bad for the "little brown wren."

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Bette Davis didn't get much praise at all from studio stars at the start of her career.

 

It took making a British film, Of Human Bondage, to get Warner as well as the publc to see that here was an actress of major potential. Leslie Howard didn't want an American unknown to play the role with him until he did some test runs with her. They when on to make two of my favorite movies together; The Petrified Forest and It's Love I'm After.

 

Bette is the tops!

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George Arliss also gave her a meaty role in *The Man Who Played God,* which saved her Hollywood career.

 

Warners was so dumb about her talents that they bleached her hair platinum in an effort to make her a new Harlow.

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Warner truely didn't know how to handle the women actresses he had. The Warner style was way more suited to the male stars (grit verses say the MGM glamour) like Cagney, Edie G, and Bogie.

 

But Warner did catch on with Bette once the money started coming in! I have a few Davis bios and you are correct that she credits Arliss with giving her that role and helping her beef up her acting chops.

 

After Warner understood what he had Bette was given first pick of the roles and as you well know made some of the best actress centered movies in classic film history.

 

I'm a big fan of Olivia De Haviland; Warner never really 'got it' with Olivia and she had to leave to get the type of roles that got her, her 2 oscars.

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I do recall reading that Bette Davis was referred to as the "little brown wren". This was at the start of her career when she was signed with Universal. I don't remember who said this but one of the Universal executives said that "Bette had as much sex appeal as Slim Summerville". She only made 3 or so movies before leaving Universal. I don't know if she was terminated or if her contract expired.

It was thanks to George Arliss for giving her the opportunity in "The Man Who Played God" and having her signing a contract with Warner Bros.

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I agree that Davis was far removed from Harlow but I would say in a good way.

 

In many ways I just don't understand what all the fuss was about Harlow. She does little for me but as I posted in the Harlow thread a lot of that has to do with MGM and the MGM style.

 

I believe Harlow would of been a better fit in the Warner style of grit and hardnose style compared to the MGM everything white and clean (and often fake or dreamlike) type of style. But I also assume Harlow was a hit because she stood out from the MGM style.

 

As we see with Greer Garson years later MGM's style and their use of actresses goes hand and hand. I just wonder what Harlow would of looked like in a Warner's movie.

 

Davis and the Warner style (especialy in Davis's early movies befoure they were 100% Davis vehicles), suited Davis very well. i.e. I don't see Davis in an MGM movies anymore than I see Garson in a Warner one.

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Well it just goes to show that people have very different taste. I'm not a fan of Harlow and the movie she is in I do enjoy, like Libel Lady, I enjoy more for the other actors; e.g. Powell, Loy etc.. I also like the movies she does with Gable but again more for Gable.

 

This is an area where I would like to see some polling data. Of course that doesn't really mean anything but I do find it interesting as a way of seeing what others like dislike.

 

I do agree that as a man many Davis movies are women pictures; Now Voyger, Dark Victory being the top ones, and at first I felt someone like a sap for even watching them! But Davis just is so good in them I got hooked. To me there is no greater actress.

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It seems silly to compare Harlow and Davis in any respect. Davis had a career spanning from 1931-1989 with many televison appearances and made for TV movies as well. Jean's career spanned a mere 7 years of which two of those years (1930 and 1934) she only made one movie.

Robert Osborne made a very important statement tonight during one of his intros: he said that Jean Harlow had made a huge impact on moviegoers and she still does almost 74 years after her death. How many stars are still that famous today after all this time has passed? Maybe Valentino.

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Harlow's career spanned 1928-1937 but was an extra or bit player until *Hell's Angels* in 1930. She's easily recognized (if briefly) in early films like *New York Nights, The Love Parade,* and *The Saturday Night Kid,*

 

Personally, I think a lot of silent stars are well remembered besides Valentino: Chaplin, Pickford, Fairbanks, Lloyd, Keaton, Swanson, Gish, Garbo, Gilbert, and Louise Brooks.

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What I meant was how many stars are still as well remembered after having passed away so long ago (over 70 years ago), Most of the silent stars you mentioned haven't been gone that long. Garbo died in 1990, Pickford in 1979, Louise Brooks in 1985, Keaton in 1966, Lillian Gish in 1993, Lloyd in 1971, Chaplin in 1977, Swanson in 1983.

 

Edited by: midnight08 on Mar 23, 2011 7:29 PM

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And remembered by whom? I'd say most people would at least recognize the names Greta Garbo, Charlie Chaplin and Rudolph Valentino, even if they couldn't give any real details. But Swanson, Pickford, Lloyd, Gish and so forth? Not many people on the street could accurately identify them. Even Jean Harlow would draw a blank for most people--unless they were Madonna or Gwen Stefani fans. (Or they might say, "Harlow? Isn't Nicole Ritchie's baby?")

 

Bette Davis is remembered, if mostly for "Bette Davis Eyes" (which thrilled her at the time--she was glad to have her name out there in another media) And Joan Crawford will be remembered, sadly, for "Mommie Dearest..."

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