Bette Davis Film Festival

Friday, March 8 – Sunday, March 10, 2013

Please join us in Warner Bros. Theater to kick off the first Classic Film Festival of 2013! In recognition of Women’s History Month, we will be featuring the films of Bette Davis.

Half an hour prior to each screening, NPR film commentator Murray Horwitz will lead a discussion highlighting historical tidbits and things to look and listen for in these classic Hollywood films. All screenings are FREE and open to the public. Attendance is on a first come, first served basis.

 

Jezebel
Friday, Mar. 8; 7 p.m.
Free; First Come, First Seated

(Dir. William Wyler, 1938, 104 min., PG) Set during the antebellum period, this historical melodrama follows the antics of Julie Marsden (Bette Davis), a haughty, temperamental southern belle of New Orleans. When Julie’s fiancé Preston Dillard (Henry Fonda) calls off their engagement after her inappropriate and audacious behavior at an important social event, Julie sets her sights on reconciliation. However, her attempts are thwarted when she learns that he has taken a Yankee wife, Amy (Margaret Lindsay). Dillard eventually succumbs to the fever that is ravaging the community. Julie, humbled and repentant, persuades Amy to allow her to accompany Dillard to quarantine on an island, promising to return him to her when he is well.

The film is widely regarded as Warner Bros.’ compensation to Bette Davis for losing the role of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind. The similarities between the roles are apparent in that they are both headstrong southern women. Davis’ performance was ultimately rewarded when she won a 1983 Oscar for “Best Actress.”

 

Now, Voyager
Saturday, Mar. 9; 2 p.m.
Free; First Come, First Seated

(Dir. Irving Rapper, 1942, 117 min., Unrated) Based on a popular novel by Olive Higgins Prouty, the film is a drama about Charlotte Vale, an unattractive, repressed spinster who seeks independence from the verbal and emotional abuse of her mother, a dictatorial Boston dowager. Charlotte, transformed in appearance and behavior by psychiatric treatment, embarks on a liberating love affair with an unhappily married man and his emotionally troubled young daughter.

The film (and the novel on which it is based) borrows its title from a line in Walt Whitman’s poem “The Untold Wants” which reads: “Now voyager. Sail thou forth, to seek and find.” Max Steiner’s haunting musical score, a fully realized ingredient in the film’s overall effectiveness, received a 1942 Academy Award.

 

Mr. Skeffington
Saturday, Mar. 9; 7 p.m.
Free; First Come, First Seated

(Dir. Vincent Sherman, 1944, 145 min., Unrated.) Starring: Bette Davis, Claude Rains, Walter Abel. Socialite Fanny Trellis is a beautiful, self-absorbed coquette of WW I-era New York. Her charismatic demeanor attracts the attention of a bevy of young men, but she enters into a loveless marriage with older Jewish stockbroker Job Skeffington in order to rescue her beloved brother from embezzlement charges. Job loves Fanny, but her flirtatious behavior with other men propels him to seek solace with his secretaries. Although equally guilty of infidelities, Fanny divorces Job and embarks on a series of affairs but loses her beauty and her suitors to the ravaging effects of diphtheria. Job retreats to Europe, where he is tortured by the Nazis, who leave him penniless and blind.  He escapes them to return to New York, where he is reunited Fanny, who eschews her giddy vanity for newly-found compassion.  

 

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
Sunday, Mar. 10; 2 p.m.
Free; First Come, First Seated

(Dir. Robert Aldrich, 1962, 132 min. Unrated) Starring: Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Victor Buono.  Sisters Jane and Blanche Hudson reside in a decaying Hollywood mansion and are trapped in faded memories of their careers as actresses. Blanche is now a wheelchair bound invalid, the result of a mysterious 1930s automobile accident. Alcoholic and demented Jane dresses grotesquely as the vaudeville child star she once was and insanely plans a show business comeback. Fearful that Blanche means to sell their house and institutionalize her, Jane constantly terrorizes her sister and brutally murders their cleaning woman, Elvira. Dying of malnutrition and dehydration, Blanche confesses that she, and not a drunken Jane, caused the long ago car accident. Fearful of the police because of her murder of Elvira, Jane shoves Blanche into their car and drives to the beach. Having lost all connections with reality, Jane frolics before an audience of bewildered onlookers as police discover her and Blanche on the beach.

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? won Norma Koch an Oscar in 1963 for Best Costume Design.