The Hard Way: The Films of Bette Davis

The Hard Way: The Films of Bette Davis

The Hard Way: The Films of Bette Davis

The Hard Way: The Films of Bette Davis

The Hard Way: The Films of Bette Davis

TIFF Cinematheque - Hollywood Classics

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TIFF Cinematheque Senior Programmer James Quandt curates this delectable tribute to the hard-driving diva, tracing her four-decade evolution from glamour girl (Marked Woman) to grande dame (All About Eve) to Gothic gargoyle (What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?).

Films in The Hard Way: The Films of Bette Davis

    • Of Human Bondage
    • John Cromwell
    • Bette Davis finally became a star with her performance as a blowsy, malicious Cockney waitress who manipulates and torments the sensitive painter (Leslie Howard) who loves her.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • The Letter
    • William Wyler
    • An ice-cold murderess (Bette Davis) plots to recover the incriminating letter that could send her to the gallows, in William Wyler's superb Malay-set noir.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • All About Eve
    • Joseph L. Mankiewicz
    • The bitchery is exquisite, the invective divine in Joseph L. Mankiewicz's classic, Academy Award-winning tale of backstage ambition and deceit.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • Now, Voyager
    • Irving Rapper
    • Bette Davis goes from frumpy to fabulous as a repressed spinster who blossoms after emerging from psychoanalysis, in this classic romantic melodrama.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • Dark Victory
    • Edmund Goulding
    • Bette Davis cited her role in this four-hankie weeper, as a fast-living Long Island socialite who discovers humility when she is stricken with a potentially fatal disease, as her own personal favourite.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • Jezebel
    • William Wyler
    • Bette Davis won the second of her two Best Actress Oscars as a tempestuous Southern belle who schemes to reclaim her straight-laced ex-fiancé (Henry Fonda), in William Wyler's posh antebellum drama.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • Marked Woman
    • Lloyd Bacon
    • A Manhattan nightclub hostess (Bette Davis) is pressed by a crusading D.A. (Humphrey Bogart) to testify against her vicious gangster boss, in this powerful crime thriller that is widely considered to be the best of Davis' early films.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • The Little Foxes
    • William Wyler
    • The little foxes spoil more than the vines in William Wyler's viciously entertaining version of Lillian Hellman's acidulous stage play, about a steel-willed Southern matriarch (Bette Davis) who stops at nothing to see that she gets what she feels is her due.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • Mr. Skeffington
    • Vincent Sherman
    • A vain, flirtatious socialite (Bette Davis) uses, abuses, and finally comes to love her gentle and eternally patient husband (Claude Rains) in this endlessly entertaining, decade-spanning melodrama.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • Beyond the Forest
    • King Vidor
    • A camp classic to end all camp classics, this full-throttle backwoods melodrama stars a bewigged Bette Davis as a small-town vamp hungering to escape to the big city.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • The Great Lie
    • Edmund Goulding
    • Bette Davis stars opposite Mary Astor (who won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance) in this tale of two women who discover that they are married to the same man.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • Dangerous
    • Alfred E. Green
    • Bette Davis won her first Academy Award for Best Actress in this story of an alcoholic, self-destructive former Broadway star who makes a final bid to return to the Great White Way.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • Three on a Match
    • Mervyn LeRoy
    • Three childhood friends (Bette Davis, Joan Blondell and Ann Dvorak) tempt fate when they violate the old superstition about lighting three cigarettes on one match, in this crackling pre-Code drama.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
    • Robert Aldrich
    • Robert Aldrich's Grand Guignol cult classic about a pair of aged, ex-starlet sisters (Bette Davis and Joan Crawford) bound together in bitter (and lethal) rivalry in a fetid Hollywood villa returns in a special fiftieth anniversary digital restoration.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte
    • Robert Aldrich
    • Bette Davis reunited with director Robert Aldrich following their unexpected hit What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? for another mossy modern Gothic, about a reclusive Southern spinster who becomes the target of a murderous family plot.

    • No events playing at this time.

Our Fall season of Hollywood Classics is dedicated to the only actress to vie with Barbara Stanwyck as the greatest to emerge from the studio system. Traduced as a bitch because of her fierce determination to maintain excellence and independence, the unyielding Bette Davis made her reputation by playing unpleasant (or even detestable) characters and mixing glamour with grotesquerie. As the epitaph on her tombstone reads, she did it the hard way.

— James Quandt