To celebrate the 100th birthday of Bette Davis, all through June the Irish Film Institute will play host to a Davis retrospective. We take a look at the highlights.
Forget ‘Sex and the City’, if you are looking to gaze upon a true Hollywood Femme fatale, make sure you check out the Bette Davis retrospective at Dublin’s Irish Film Institute running throughout June. Described by Robert Ebert as “an icon with grand style” Davis dominated Hollywood throughout the ‘40s and ‘50s with ten Oscar nominations and two wins to her name.
Throughout her career she was known for her uncompromising character, both on-screen and off, with several notable rows between Davis and studio execs, directors and actors- most notably her long-standing rivalry with Joan Crawford, who she would later star alongside in the ‘Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?’
The season, which marks the 100 anniversary of her birth, opens June 1st with ‘The Old Maid’ and closing on June 30th with her iconic performance of Margo Channing in ‘All about Eve’. As Davis says in the film, “fasten your seat-belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night”.
JEZEBEL: June 7th (1.00) June 8th (1.30)
Yellow fever sweeps across New Orleans in the 1850s, carrying in its path a society on the eve of destruction and a headstrong heroine whose acts of wilfulness and perversity signal a vitality frustrated by a patronising, patriarchal social order. ‘Jezebel’ won Davis her second Academy Award for her performance as the sassy southerner who clashes with her banker fiancé. Partly scripted by John Huston, the film is often considered a prelude to the southern epic ‘Gone with the Wind’.
DARK VICTORY: June 7th (1.30) June 8th (3.00)
In this old fashioned ‘woman’s picture’, Davis plays Judith, a spoilt heiress who is diagnosed with a brain tumour and compelled to re-evaluate her life. A deeply personal film for the actress, she considered it her own favourite performance.
THE LITTLE FOXES: June 13th (6.30) June 15th (2.10)
The story of the corrupt machinations of a wealthy Southern family; vicious queen bee Regina Giddens (Bette Davis) and her two greedy brothers scheme mercilessly in their attempt to make a fortune on a new cotton mill. In the process Regina is more than willing to crush anyone who stands in their way–including her own husband.
‘NOW, VOYAGER’: June 21st and 22nd (1.00)
The tale of an introverted and frightened woman, long crushed by her tyrannical mother, who visits a psychotherapist to cure her emotional problems. As a result, she undergoes a dramatic transformation, becoming a confident, exciting, and attractive woman. Desperate for the love she has never experienced, she begins a relationship with a married man. Davis received her 5th Oscar nomination in a row for the film, which is still a record today.
MR SKEFFINGTON: June 21st (2.20)
“Fanny Skeffington was a beauty, which was a problem,” wrote Bette Davis with characteristic candour in her autobiography. Nevertheless, Davis’s magnetism has a beauty of its own and she gives a powerful portrayal of a vain woman who marries a Wall Street tycoon (Claude Rains) for his money and for a time treats him with contempt. However, when diphtheria ravages her looks, she will reform; in the meantime, her husband, after incarceration in a concentration camp in Europe, has gone blind and can only remember her as she looked when young.
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?: June 28th (1.00) June 29th (3.00)
The real-life rivalry between Davis and Joan Crawford only served to add fuel to the fire in this classic, now cult, movies. The two play sisters, both formerly Hollywood stars, now living together in deadly enmity. Crawford, in a wheelchair due to an accident that ruined her career and is thought to have been caused by her malicious sister, lives on past glories; Davis meanwhile is planning a comeback, with the help of a lugubrious accompanist, superbly played by Victor Buono.
ALL ABOUT EVE: June 30th (2.00, 6.25)
Closing the season, ‘All Above Eve’. The perfectly cast and solidly scripted dark Hollywood satire contains a brilliantly self-deprecating performance from Bette Davis. Smart, cynical, terrifically entertaining, and one of the greatest films ever released about the movie industry, All About Eve is the perfect end to a season of classic films.
The Bette Davis season runs throughout June at the Irish Film Institute, at 6 Eustace Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2. For Information or advanced bookings, log on to www.ifi.ie