Classic Movie Actress: Bette Davis

Bette_Davis_in_Now_VoyagerYou think you know Bette Davis. Maybe you know her as the old hag of a woman in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane or in Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte. But those movies came at the end of the long and illustrious career of Bette Davis.

Bette Davis was nominated for an Academy Award 5 years in a row;  Best Actress in a Leading Role for: Dark Victory in 1939, Best Actress in a Leading Role for: The Letter  in 1940, Best Actress in a Leading Role for The Little Foxes in 1941, Best Actress in a Leading Role for Now, Voyager in 1942 and agin in 1943. She also received Oscar nomiations for Best Actress in a Leading Role for one of my favorite Bette Davis movies,  All About Eve (no, she doesn’t play Eve), Best Actress in a Leading Role for Mr. Skeffington.  She won Oscars for Best Actress in a Leading Role for  Jezebel (1938) and Best Actress in a Leading Role for: Dangerous (1935).

Even though she had achieved some success in movies like The Petriefied Forest with Humphrey Bogard and Leslie Howard, Jezebel for which she won an Oscar, and the tearjerkers Now, Voyager and Dark Victory, Bette was not satisfied with the roles she was getting Bette Davis was the kind of woman who knew what she wanted and how to get it. When the studio was not giving her the roles she felt she deserved, Bette sued Warner Bros Studios and tried to get out of her contract. She lost, but they knew she meant business and eventually better roles came along.

All About Eve

All About Eve seems like it was written for Bette Davis. The story of an great actress, whose career is threaten but a young ambitious and ruthless protege. Joseph L. Mankiewicz directs Bette Davis as she plays Magot Channing to the hilt. Ann Baxter plays Eve Harrington, the adoring fan who wants to to be the new leading lady on stage and with Margo’s man.  All About Eve is heavy  on the backstage melodrama, but it is also full of fantastic performances. especially by Bette Davis.

The Man Who Came to Dinner

Bette Davis made her name in dramatic movies like All About Eve, but one of all time favorites is her role as  the long suffering personal assistant (they called them secretaries back then) in the  hilarious, The Man Who Came to Dinner. Bette played Maggie Cutler, the dutiful secretary to Sheridan Whiteside who falls for a local newspaper man.

The Man Who Came to Dinner is a hilarious comedy about what happens to a small town family whose lives are turned upside down when a demanding celebrity stays with them.  The Kaufman and Hart comedy is about an acid-tongued radio personality who becomes the unwelcome houseguest of a small town mayor. Imagine all the Kardasians and Housewives all rolled up into one cantankerous old man — that is Sheridan Whiteside. The only person who can handle him is Maggie.

Monte Wooly stars as the radio celebrity, Sheridan Whiteside. During  his tour of personal appearances, Whiteslide has a slip and fall at the home of a small town mayor. The recovery period at the mayor’s home results family upheaval, visits from movie stars, penguins, mummies and love for Maggie.

Other Great Movies, Starring Bette Davis

Jezebel (1938)

The Letter (1940)

Now, Voyager (1942)

Watch on the Rhine (1943)

Dark Victory (1939)

The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942)

What is your favorite Bette Davis movie?

About Clara Mathews

Clarabela (Clara Mathews) is freelance web content copywriter, professional blogger and Hugh Jackman fan. In addition to writing about her love of movies at, Clarabela is also a regular contributor to DignityZine.  Follow Just Chick Flicks on Facebook.