The Bette Davis Collection, Vol. 2

There’s no naysaying the star’s performances in the sumptuous set The Bette Davis Collection, Volume 2: They’re all Bette Davis ayes. So what if the attitudes toward career women in 1943’s Old Acquaintance, making its DVD debut here, are dated? Or costar Miriam Hopkins chews scenery like a swarm of locusts? Davis is a stalwart heroine to root for. In the scalding Marked Woman (1937), Davis toughens up as a ”clip-joint hostess” (code for prostitute) oppressed by a ruthless gangster; she gets the working girls to testify against him for upright DA Humphrey Bogart. For something lighter, try Kaufman & Hart’s The Man Who Came to Dinner (1941), a transfer of their Broadway hit that keeps the screwball fireworks intact. Monty Woolley re-creates the injured radio celebrity who tyrannizes an Ohio household, and Davis is his sanguine secretary. The ”bad” Bette is here too, as the willful belle in Jezebel (1938) and as the former child star slipping into insanity in a double disc of 1962’s What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? Both releases, newly restored, come with commentaries, the latter by drag artists Charles Busch and John ”Lypsinka” Epperson. A wealth of extras includes two lengthy bio-docs on Davis, where we learn that Bette’s renowned feuds with Hopkins and Joan Crawford probably stemmed from sleeping with Hopkins’ husband and Crawford’s fiancé in the 1930s. In the Acquaintance commentary, director Vincent Sherman, 99, recalls Davis’ declaration of love at a burger joint: ”That came as a complete shock to me.” Acquaintance: B Marked: B+ Dinner, Jezebel, Jane: A-

The Bette Davis Collection, Vol. 2
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