Stars of the Silver Screen: Bette Davis
Thursday, 8.30pm, Studio ‘‘ Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night,’’ says Bette Davis, as Margo Channing, in All About Eve. It’s a perfect quote to begin this series of reminiscences about Davis, surely one of cinema’s all-time greats. There was never anything easy about working with the actress, and she drove many of her co-stars and directors up the wall. On the subject of Davis’s unspectacular looks, historical novelist Sarah Gristwood tells us that when Bette and her mother arrived in Hollywood, the talent scout sent to collect them drove away again because there was no one there who looked like a movie star. Derek Malcolm, curiously Gristwood’s husband and a film critic for The London Evening Standard, says she was first accepted in Hollywood as an actress rather than a star, and so was given character parts. There are better, more personal biopics about Davis’s life and times, such as 1994’s If Looks Could Kill. But this is all about her career. There are fascinating details about Davis’s endless quest for control, including a massive court case with Warner Bros. Cleverly, incidents in her professional life are intercut with amazingly pertinent clips from her films.