The Bette Davis Collection includes 3 new-to-DVD classics, featuring Davis in multiple Emmy-nominated performances as a captivating adulteress, a manipulative beauty, and a former Oscar-winning actress recovering from the ... more »end of her career.« less
Jery Tillotson | New York, NY United States | 04/29/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"At last, we're getting the legacy collections of some of our legendary stars. For the Bette collection, I do hope they've cleaned up and restored the DVD version of "Dark Victory." When I watched it, I was shocked by the poor, grainy quality. "Now Voyager" looked wonderful but there were no extras at all. There are several good Bette documentaries floating around that should be included on this collection. Like some of the other commentators here, I wish the next Bette collection would include the following: 1. In this Our Life. Bette burns up the screen as one of the most villanous psychopaths to ever appear in movies. As Stanley Timberlake, she says; "I'd rather do anything than be still." She lies, kills and destroys with abandon. A wonderfully atmospheric movie with the main part of the movie occurring against the backdrop of the decaying Timberlake mansion. Great musical score by Max Steiner. 2. Beyond the Forest. Another powerful portrait of evil as Bette sashays around as that over-sexed, frustrated Rosa Moline, who is described by one character as "Something for the birds, Rosa. Something for the BIRDS!" Bette is incredibly sexy in her Edith Head clinging dresses and robes. And you've never seen anything like Bette's death scene--all accompanied by one of Max Steiner's greatest film scores, all revolving around "Chicago, Chicago, that toddlin' town." Bette later told a reporter that there's one sequence in the movie that she had to return and re-loop (dub. "If I don't get out of here, I'll die! If I don't get out of here I HOPE I die--and burn." When she uttered those words, everyone in the projection collapsed with laughter because this is what she had been saying during the entire filming of "Beyond the Forest." Contrary to legend, Jack Warner did NOT force Bette to make this movie. She chose it. She had already turned down "Mildred Pierce," "Humoresque," "Possessed" (all Joan Crawford triumphs, "Hold Back the Dawn," (Olivia De Havilland's Oscar winner). 3. Old Acquaintance. This is a delicious brew of female rivalry, cococted into an exhilirating cocktail of catfights and threats by Bette and her arch-enemy, Miriam Hopkins. According to Davis, Hopkins pulled her usual scene-stealing tricks and did her damndest to upstage Davis in every scene. Poor director, Edmund Goulding, had his hands full."
Byron Kolln | the corner where Broadway meets Hollywood | 03/07/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is actually a re-packaged version of the first Warners' Bette Davis set (previously available as The Bette Davis Collection (The Star / Mr. Skeffington / Dark Victory / Now, Voyager / The Letter)). 2008 will mark Bette Davis's 100th birthday, and Warner Bros. is celebrating by re-releasing their first two Davis DVD box sets in brand-new packaging, to accompany the new third volume.
The set includes:
NOW, VOYAGER - Based on the novel by Olive Higgins Prouty. Charlotte Vale (Davis) flees her mother's suffocating grip and finds romance with a handsome divorcee (Paul Henreid). Co-starring Claude Rains and Gladys Cooper. Extra features: music scoring sessions.
MR. SKEFFINGTON - Based on a story by "Elizabeth". Davis shines as Fanny Trellis, a vain and self-centered beauty who only learns the lesson of true love after suffering the ravages of diphtheria. Extra features: "Mr. Skeffington - A Picture of Strength" documentary, and audio commentary by director Vincent Sherman.
THE STAR - Alcoholic washed-up diva Margaret Elliot (Davis) is saved by a former co-star (Sterling Hayden) and discovers a life beyond the false facade of Hollywood. Davis plays a thinly-veiled caricature of Joan Crawford! Extra features: "How Real is The Star?" documentary.
THE LETTER - Based on the novel by Somerset Maugham. Davis is Leslie Crosbie, a woman guilty of murdering her lover in cold blood. Although she later gets acquitted of the crime, vengeance is only a heartbeat away. Extra features: alternate ending, plus two Lux Theater radio presentations.
DARK VICTORY - Davis plays afflicted Judith Traherne, in a stirring portrait of courage under fire. A millionairess faced with a bleak prognosis, Judith decides to spend her final days with no regrets. Extra features: "1939 - Tough Competition for Dark Victory" documentary, plus audio commentary with James Ursini and Paul Clinton.
If you already own the previous release, there's no need to upgrade; it's the exact same content we had for the previous edition. Happy Birthday, Miss Davis!"
Edward Coogan | 06/14/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I received my copy early last week and was able to review the collection. Again- as most note- wasnt too thrilled that I owned 3 of the titles in this set- so I bought this box set any way. I can not stand those cardboard snap cases and prefer the plastic ones instead. This is what my opinion is on the set. Now Voyager is the same -different case- the picture is fantastic. The Letter is also the same. Mr. Skeffington looks GREAT on DVD the transfer to me is very very good- sharp picture- contrast levels are nice- and alltogether a very nice transfer. The Star- I have mixed feeling on this movie. Entertaining, yes! Bette Davis excellent in the performance, YES! But to me this movie does not fit in this box set with all her Warner Pics- if they included The Sisters, In this Our Life, or any other of her WB 40's films this would have been a much better choice. Now for Dark Victory. I was looking forward to this one MOST of all-I LOVE this movies and HATED my prior DVD copy!!! Now this is billed as a new digital transfer and YES the picture looks amazing when compared to the old transfer of Dark Victory. However, compare this new transfer of Dark Victory to The Letter, or Now, Voyager, or Mr. Skeffington and it does not hold up that well..... They claim this was fully restored- however there are still alot of scratches, those two annoying streaks that ran through the old version when Bette was in the Dr's office are - STILL IN THE NEW DVD! But, to be honest it is still a massive improvement over the old edition, but personally was hoping for a sharper, cleaner print. Dont get me wrong though- the new version of Dark Victory is still a very nice transfer on DVD. Bette Davis rocks! And I HOPE HOPE HOPE a follow up set is made available soon....Would love to see In This Our Life, Old Maid, Old Acquaintance, Deception, and especially The Great Lie on DVD- now that would be a box set to look forward too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
This is why I love Bette Davis movies--the summit
Stephen H. Wood | South San Francisco, CA | 07/05/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Bette Davis is close to my favorite actress. She drove studio boss Jack Warner nuts because of her uncanny ability to pick excellent properties that would challenge her as an actress and roles that her millions of fans would love her in. If Joan Crawford was a movie star who always insisted on looking glamorous, Davis was a serious and demanding actress who was not afraid to look awful if the role was great (MR. SKEFFINGTON, WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE).
Bette Davis is at her absolute peak in THE BETTE DAVIS COLLECTION: VOLUME ONE from Warner Home Video. DARK VICTORY (1939), THE LETTER (1940), NOW, VOYAGER (1942), MR. SKEFFINGTON (1944), and THE STAR (1952) all got her Best Actress Oscar nominations. In most cases, I feel she should have won over the eventual winner. Her performances hold up better.
Directed by Edmund Goulding (GRAND HOTEL), DARK VICTORY has Miss Davis as a young woman going blind from brain cancer. Made during Hollywood's greatest year, 1939, it is a supremely well made tearjerker that is too well acted by Bette to be depressing. Max Steiner did the music, Casey Robinson wrote the screenplay, and the co-stars include Geraldine Fitzgerald and Ronald Reagan.
THE LETTER, one of three masterpieces Bette Davis made with director William Wyler, is based on a W. Somerset Maugham story. It is about murder and adultery on a Southeast Asian rubber plantation. Nominated for seven Oscars, including Picture and Direction and Actress, this is a gorgeously photographed and gripping tale of a woman who kills her lover, then tries to get away with it. Herbert Marshall is flawless as her likeable husband and Henry Stephenson is her lawyer. With this, OF HUMAN BONDAGE, and THE RAZOR'S EDGE, Maugham hit gold with Hollywood adaptations of his work.
I adore NOW, VOYAGER. also written by Casey Robinson and directed by Irving Rapper. It may be Miss Davis' crowning achievement. She has a fabulous role as Charlotte Vale, who is a brow-beaten and timid spinster under harridan mother Gladys Cooper. But kindly sanitarium owner Claude Rains and likeable lover Paul Henreid (both the same year they did CASABLANCA) draw Charlotte out of her shell and make her love herself. She tells off Cooper ("If I am a guest in this house, then treat me like one!"), who meets a "stand up and cheer" bad end. Eventually, in one of the loveliest set of scenes she ever played, Davis' Charlotte gets to help draw Henreid's insecure young daughter out of HER shell. This tearjerker masterpiece is the film classic where Henreid keeps lighting two cigarettes and giving her one ("Shall we have a cigarette on it?") It is incomparable, maybe my all-time favorite Bette Davis movie.
MR. SKEFFINGTON, restored from 127 to 146 minutes, is one of Bette Davis' most neglected tearjerker masterpieces. It is an elegantly produced and written (Julius and Philip Epstein) feast of a soap opera that spans several decades of the early 20th Century in two-and-a-half hours. It is about a woman who is so beautiful that men flock to her and overlook her intense vanity. We are in 1914 on a movie that will go all the way to when it was made in 1944. When Davis' Fanny contracts disfiguring diptheria, only Claude Rains' Job Skeffington, her husband by then, stands by her. This movie knockout, another Davis film I truly love, was directed by Vincent Sherman, who is still with us at age 99. He does the audio commentary!
The fifth Bette Davis film in this pure gold boxed set from Warner Home Video is the little-known THE STAR, with Bette playing a variation of herself when the movie was made independently and on a low-budget in 1952. Oscar-winning actress Margaret Ellis is losing her looks, has bills to pay,.and no studio in Hollywood will give her a job. So she proudly takes humiliating work outside the film colony. Stuart Heisler directed an original screenplay by Katherine Alpert and Dale Eunson that may be one of the best movies ever made about the real workings of Hollywood. Sterling Hayden and an adolescent Natalie Wood co-star.
THE BETTE DAVIS COLLECTION (VOLUME ONE) is an absolute must-own feast for her fans, and at least a must-see for fans of vintage Hollywood B&W tearjerkers. This collection is the summit for me, and VOLUME TWO (also out now) is also worth seeing. Recipient of two Oscars and ten nominations, Davis has been done proud by these two boxed sets from Warner Home Video, the Rolls Royce of the DVD industry.
How NICE for Eve. How NICE for EVERYBODY!!
Review Lover | At a place... | 07/25/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This box-set really is a must-have for all Bette fans. Bar the titles already on DVD - and if you find that in buying this set that you will end up with some doubles, get it anyway, it's excellent value at under $40 - the rest of the movies are really some of Bette's best efforts, and are well-worth your hard-earned cash.
Rather than a lengthy mini-review of each title, let me just say that overall: The Star is possibly the weakest of the movies contained herein, and it is still a fantastically entertaining piece of film. It's funny, touching, and a fascinating look at a long-dead Hollywood system. Also, the rumours that the character and portrayal were based on Joan Crawford are completely proven here!! Dark Victory, in my opinion, is the strongest film - as an Actress, Ms. Davis' performance here is far better than merely Oscar-worthy - it's Oscar-defining. Never OTT or melodramatic, it's a strong testament to the power of this particular performance that it's every bit as emotionally relevant today as it was when it was made - some sixty-five years ago!!
The DVD quality, I have to say, blew me away. These remastered movies are sharp, smooth and absolutely gorgeous to look at. Dark black areas are truly black, contrast balance is never an issue, and the crystal-clear sharpness of the images remains intact, overall. Some parts of The Letter and Now, Voyager are maybe not as good as the other movies - but are still some of the best examples of digital resotration going. Sound is mono, but a decent sort of mono, and with decent TV speakers it's not such a big deal.
Each DVD has its own mini-extras, all come with some interesting comments from Historians, Biographers and Directors, and this makes for a great accompaniment of factoids to already-worthwhile movies.
A wonderful collection of some of Davis' best performances, remastered to within an inch of perfection, and for a relatively low price, this is a DVD Box Set that you can't and shouldn't miss. Highly recommended."