Thursday, May 25, 2017

Catching Up with a Trio of Bette Davis Films on TCM

Recent TCM offerings include: The Girl from Tenth Avenue, The Golden Arrow and That Certain Woman.

Let's start with The Girl from Tenth Avenue (1935.) This is one of my favorites of the early Bette Davis "fluff" movies. Bette had already shown her acting chops in Bordertown and Of Human Bondage. Warners shouldn't have wasted her in this. But I still found it fun and wrote about it here. I enjoyed Bette's scenes with Alison Skipworth, who coaches Bette on how to be a lady. Full disclosure: The book Mother Goddamn by Whitney Stine with commentary by Bette Davis categorizes The Girl from Tenth Avenue as one of "Three Stinkers All in A Row."

The Golden Arrow: I think this is more of a stinker than The Girl from Tenth Avenue. Here Bette is pretending to be a face cream heiress to get publicity for the company. She inexplicably falls in love with reporter George Brent, who inexplicably falls for her when he learns she's a fake Huh? Enough said. At least The Girl from Tenth Avenue had Alison Skipworth and a thrown grapefruit. What a letdown die Bette from her roles in Dangerous and The Petrified Forest. 

That Certain Woman: This movie annoys me. Of course, Bette and Donald Crisp are good, as are the supporting players, especially Anita Louise. But Henry Fonda can't do anything with the weak character of Jack Merrick. How could Bette love him? Weak is too weak of a word to describe him. As someone who loves soap operas, the plot is too soapy for me. Apparently, Bette thought it was an important step in her career to work with director Edmund Goulding (per Mother Goddamn.) It's hard for me to understand this based on this film.

Luckily, better roles would be coming for Bette.

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