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HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICEon January 19, 2008
This set contains six films, all new to DVD in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Bette Davis' birth. Here we are on the third DVD boxed set of Bette Davis films by Warner Home Video, and we are still getting A List properties. The details are as follows:

In This Our Life (1942) - In my opinion this is one of Davis' best films, yet TCM will show "Jezebel" ten times a year and never show this one. Davis and Olivia De Haviland play sisters. Davis runs off with her sister's husband right before she herself is to be married. As time passes, her ex-fiance falls for De Haviland's character, and they decide to be married. When the husband Davis absconded with kills himself, Davis returns home and decides she wants her ex-fiance back. This film spotlights the kind of scenery-chewing role that Davis excelled at. Extra features include:
Commentary by film historian Jeannine Basinger
Vintage newsreel
Technicolor patriotic short: March On, America!
Technicolor musical short: Spanish Fiesta
Classic cartoon: Who's Who in the Zoo
Trailers of In This Our Life and 1942's Desperate Journey
Subtitles: English & Français (main feature only)

The Old Maid (1939) - Davis and Miriam Hopkin play cousins. Hopkins is the belle-of-the-ball type who is marrying a well-off man to spite her colorful yet poor suitor that she in fact still harbors deep feelings for. Davis plays Charlotte, the pretty but quiet type who comforts the ex-suitor after Hopkins rejects him. The rejected suitor then goes off to fight in the Civil War and is killed. Years later, as Charlotte is planning her own wedding, her cousin finds out that Charlotte had an illegitimate child by her ex-beau. Her retribution ruins Charlotte's life and yet binds her to Charlotte forever. Extra features include:
Vintage newsreel
Technicolor historical short: Lincoln in the White House
Howard Hill sports short: Sword Fishing
Classic cartoons: The Film Fan and Kristopher Kolumbus
Trailers of The Old Maid and 1939's Confessions of a Spy
Subtitles: English & Français (main feature only)

All This and Heaven Too (1940)
Davis plays Henriette, a governess to children whose wealthy parents are unhappily married. When the Duke (Charles Boyer) falls in love with Henriette, the angry wife dies a death that appears to be murder. The Duke and Henriette are instantly under suspicion, which is made no better when the Duke dies by his own hand. This leaves Henriette to face the questioning authorities alone. This film features a kinder, gentler, softer Bette Davis than roles she often played. Extra features include:
Commentary by The Women of Warner Bros. author Daniel Bubbeo.
Vintage newsreel
Technicolor patriotic short: Meet the Fleet
Classic cartoons: Hollywood Daffy and Porky's Last Stand
Trailers of All This, and Heaven Too and 1940's Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet
Audio-only bonus: Radio show adaptation with the film's stars
Subtitles: English & Français (main feature only)

The Great Lie (1941)
Another pairing of Davis with George Brent, a leading man with whom she had such great chemistry. George Brent plays Peter, a man who marries concert pianist Sandra (Mary Astor) on an alcohol-induced lark. He really loves Maggie (Bette Davis), and repents at leisure. The marriage turns out not to be legal, Peter goes back to Maggie and marries her, and then disappears in the South American jungle while on an aviation expedition for the government. After Peter's disappearance Sandra discovers she is pregnant with Peter's child - something she doesn't want at all but Maggie desperately does. Extra features include:
Vintage newsreel
Broadway Brevities short: At the Stroke of Twelve
Oscar-nominated Technicolor Sports Parade short: Kings of the Turf
Hollywood Novelty short: Polo with the Stars
Classic cartoon: Porky's Pooch
Trailers of The Great Lie and 1941's The Strawberry Blonde
Subtitles: English & Français (main feature only)

Deception (1946)
A rather odd but good film. Davis plays pianist Christine Radcliffe who is separated from her great love, cellist Karel Novak (Paul Henreid), by World War II. She presumes he is dead and has had an affair with wealthy and unstable composer Alexander Hollenius (Claude Rains). Karel reappears after the war and he and Christine marry, but she can't shake the spectre of Hollenius who continues to torment her. Hollenius' character could have resulted in over-the-top camp in the hands of a lesser actor, but Rains makes the role work. Extra features include:
Commentary by film historian Foster Hirsch
Vintage newsreel
Oscar-winning Technicolor Sports Parade Short: Facing Your Danger
Technicolor Specials Short: Movieland Magic
Classic cartoon: Mouse Menace
Trailers of Deception and 1946's A Stolen Life
Subtitles: English & Français (main feature only)

Watch on the Rhine (1943)
Sara (Bette Davis) and Kurt Muller (Paul Lukas) and their three children are returning to her mother's home in Washington DC after 18 years in Europe where Kurt was working for the underground resistance. However, even in his mother-in-law's American home, Kurt can't escape those who would like to do him harm for the work he did in Europe. Extra features include:
Career profile - Bette Davis: A Basically Benevolent Volcano
Commentary by film historian
Technicolor patriotic short: March On, America
Musical short: Ozzie Nelson and His Orchestra
Classic cartoon: The Wise Quacking Duck
Trailers of Watch on the Rhine and 1943's Mission to Moscow
Subtitles: English & Français (main feature only)
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It would be a unforgiveable deception to tell you that this Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains vehicle is anything but top rate glossy soap bubble popping high drama. A rainy day is the perfect time to watch this film, late afternoon when the light seems like it will last forever giving you that trapped in time feeling. This film evokes that effect through out. Wonderful light, and so much of it takes place in twilight, or in rain, and in the deepest inky night.

It may not be considered a film noir in the classic sense but it certainly, as shot by the incredible Ernest Haller; it looks like one and one of the most gorgeous of the style. It is more like a Woman's Noir with its story of a basically good woman driven by her deceptions to do bad things, very bad things.

Without a shadow of a doubt this is one of Claude Rains most entertaining, sharp, insightfully and wicked performances. He is pure joy to watch as he manipulates each person he comes in contact with in the story. He is the rotten, jealous petrified hard center of this poison soufflé. Bette Davis is wonderful of course and is dressed to the nines but what is remarkable to see is the fun she is having as she hands the film over to Mr.. Rains. They made so many wonderful films together and he is obviously someone she admired and loved to work with. She is strong and exciting in the role but she gets out of the way and lets him have his day.

And yet beyond all of this there are two reasons I love this film. It has a remarkable classic Hollywood score by Erich Wolfgang Korngold and features his now famous "Hollenius' Cello Concerto" as well as music by Beethoven, Wagner and Schubert. The music is as much a star of the film as anyone else. And in the commentary you will learn how the magic of Hollywood was employed to make the non-musical Henreid play that violin and not look like he is trying to saw it in half, and that Bette Davis could indeed play the piano just as she does in the film.

Then there is the incredible and even inspiring set design. The loft that Davis lives in is forty years ahead of it time. It is an incredible set and must have inspired interior designers in some subliminal way over the years, for now in cities across America that look is so in vogue. The industrial concrete walls and the slanted floor to ceiling glass wall overlooking the city juxtaposed with a mix of modern furniture and antiques. It is timeless decorating, visually magnificent, barren, cold and full of dark corners where secrets can be hidden. In short a perfect design for this film.

If you are a Steve Martin fan see if you can spot the scene he borrowed from "Deception" so that he could act with Bette Davis in his very wonderful "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid." Whether working with Claude Rains or Steve Martin, Bette Davis lets both men shine as she casts her mega-watt star power over them.
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on January 19, 2008
Here is a list of the films on this set and the special features, as listed at Turner Classic Movies:

The Old Maid (1939)
Special Features:
· Warner Night at the Movies 1939 short subjects gallery:
- Vintage newsreel
- Technicolor historical short Lincoln in the White House
- Howard Hill sports short Sword Fishing
- Classic cartoons The Film Fan and Kristopher Kolumbus
- Trailers of The Old Maid and 1939's Confessions of a Nazi Spy
· Subtitles: English & Français (main feature only)

All This, and Heaven Too (1940)
Special Features:
· Commentary by The Women of Warner Bros. author Daniel Bubbeo.
· Warner Night at the Movies 1940 short subjects gallery:
- Vintage newsreel
- Technicolor patriotic short Meet the Fleet
- Classic cartoons Hollywood Daffy and Porky's Last Stand
- Trailers of All This, and Heaven To and 1940's Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet
· Audio-only bonus: Radioshow adaptation with the film's stars
· Subtitles: English & Français (main feature only)

The Great Lie (1941)
Special Features:
· Warner Night at the Movies 1941 Short Subjects Gallery:
- Vintage newsreel
- Broadway Brevities short At the Stroke of Twelve
- Oscar®-nominated Technicolor Sports Parade short Kings of the Turf
- Hollywood Novelty short Polo with the Stars
- Classic cartoon Porky's Pooch
- Trailers of The Great Lie and 1941's The Strawberry Blonde
· Subtitles: English & Français (main feature only)

Deception (1946)
Special Features:
· Commentary by film historian Foster Hirsch
· Warner Night at the Movies 1946 short subjects gallery:
- Vintage newsreel
- Oscar®-winning Technicolor Sports Parade Short Facing Your Danger
- Technicolor Specials Short Movieland Magic
- Classic cartoon Mouse Menace
- Trailers of Deception and 1946's A Stolen Life
· Subtitles: English & Français (main feature only)

Watch on the Rhine (1943)
Special Features:
· Career profile Bette Davis: A Basically Benevolent Volcano
· Commentary by film historian Bernard F. Dick
· Warner Night at the Movies 1943 short subjects gallery:
- Technicolor patriotic short March On, America!
- Musical short Ozzie Nelson and His Orchestra
- Classic cartoon The Wise Quacking Duck
- Trailers of Watch on the Rhine and 1943's Mission to Moscow
· Subtitles: English & Français (main feature only)
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VINE VOICEon May 11, 2008
"Deception" was the last half decent Bette Davis vehicle from her glorious Warner Brother's years. Released in 1946, the film was based on a 2 character play called "Jealousy". Unfortunately, censorship robbed the film of credibility and the phoney ending just doesn't work as Davis herself recognised. Until then though, the film has some great features:

- an outstanding over the top performance by the great Claude Rains playing a composer/conductor named Hollenius. Rains, as Davis always acknowledged, steals the film.
- great sets, costumes and lighting creating a plush world among the operatic arty set in New York.

The DVD print is excellent and there are some good extras. The commentary is intriguing, carefully noting how the problems behind the scenes, including Davis's troubled private life (she was pregnant at the time) and insecurity about her looks contributed to the tension visible on the celluloid. There is a coloured short film about adventurers riding the Colorado river rapids and one set in Hollywood which puts together technicolour numbers from previous shorts dating back almost 10 years. Jane Wyman sings one of the songs and shows she was a competent singer. The cartoon is an hilarious gem as a mouse outwits Porky Pig. Don't miss when the mouse takes on a mechanical cat. This is animated perfection. Lastly, there is the original trailer of the film plus another Davis opus, "A Stolen Life".

The DVD is excellent value and even better if purchased as part of the Davis Set Volume 3.
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The movie starts out slow, and I'm afraid it's going to be a real bore - especially since the plot is rather straightforward and seemingly predictable. Bette Davis stars. The plot begins with her finding her lost true love on stage, performing on the cello. They meet, she invites him to her supposedly 'starving artist' wage apartment, where he quickly realizes there's another big source of funding to account for her furs, expensive art collection, and spacious rooms with a view to die for. Suspicious, he asks some questions and becomes suspicious that another man is keeping her.

Bette manages to change to topic, and they're quickly married. At the party, he meets the true source of her secret funding, a maniacal genius composer (Claude Rains) who makes himself obnoxious making insinuating remarks aimed at Bette. Rains then hatches a plot to embarrass Bette's new husband in the guise of helping him. Then he takes his sinister planning to an even higher level - intending to publicly expose Bette's past with him during the after-concert party. But Bette has other plans, and the ending is a bit of a surprise.
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HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICEon September 19, 2009
At the start of her career downturn at Warner Bros. until she was saved by Joseph Mankiewicz casting her at the last minute for her definitive role of Margo Channing in All About Eve, Bette Davis played one of her most morally puerile characters as Christine Radcliffe, a classical pianist who is unexpectedly reunited with the love of her life, cellist Karel Novak, whom she took for dead, while carrying on as the "protégé" of renowned composer Alexander Hollenius. Note the fancy, spacious apartment she can supposedly afford on a piano teacher's paltry wages. Had Christine shown any common sense, she would have told Karel within the first five minutes of their passionate embrace, gotten slapped for her supposed infidelity and then she would have been forgiven with violins swooning in the background. However, that would have made this 1946 Baroque-level soaper about seven minutes long. Instead, as directed by Irving Rapper in overly emphatic style, we get to watch Davis wrench her hands and get all tight-lipped as she tries to convince the tirelessly jealous Karel that she and Alex are merely good friends. Ha!

When Alex is not spending his time seething in a jealous rage, he is busy manipulating the nerves of poor Karel, whom Alex has suspiciously chosen to play the spotlight cello solo in his new concerto. The movie's most amusing scene is when the three go out for a pre-performance dinner as Alex plays the world's most pretentious diner in front of the increasingly exasperated lovers. The tension of Charlotte's deception leads to a melodramatic finish that recalls earlier Davis' vehicles, but this time for the weakest of reasons. Reunited with a mostly subdued Davis and Rapper from their classic tearjerker, 1942's Now, Voyager, Paul Henreid and Claude Rains play Karel and Alex, respectively. While Henried grapples with Karel's anger management issues, Rains easily steals the picture as the erudite composer. Some of the dialogue courtesy of John Collier and Joseph Than actually has some snap and wit but not nearly enough to make this the wallow it should be. Film historian Foster Hirsch provides a thoughtful commentary track on the 2008 DVD.
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VINE VOICEon May 9, 2008
Since this is Volume 3 of the Bette Davis DVD sets, one would expect it to reach into the more controversial of her Warner Brother's legacy. Six films are included as follows:

- in 1939, possibly Davis's best year, "The Old Maid" paired her with the bitchy Miriam Hopkins in an emotional work out as a spinster who lives with her cousin who raises Davis's illegitimate daughter as her own. The film is very well made by Edmund Goulding and based on an Edith Wharton play but it was a dated yarn even in 1939.
- in 1940, "All This and Heaven Too" was filmed as Warner's rival production to "Gone with the Wind", a long and detailed film, the opposite of the normal gutsy Warner's product. Davis plays a governess in the unhappy home of Duke Charles Boyer and the film was based on fact. It is a dull film but Davis underplays poignantly.
- in 1941, "The Great Lie" was an entertaining but absurd soap opera with fireworks from Oscar winning Mary Astor as Davis's rival for the affections of George Brent. This was one of the films which contributed to Davis's reputation for interference. She found the screenplay poor and worked with Astor to re-write it and give it some guts.
- in 1942, the controversial "In This our Life" was released with a thin Davis playing a southern gal wreaking havoc on all around her. The film has underlying themes of racism and incest and is well constructed. Olivia De Havilland plays her sister and they make an interesting contrast. Davis is mannered and frenetic but it is not simple enough to dismiss her performance as such because she absolutely nails a bitch on heat.
- in 1943, "Watch on the Rhine", based on a very successful Broadway play, starred Paul Lukas in an Oscar winning performance as an anti fascist. Davis subdues her fireworks and matches Lukas with a warm and sympathetic portrayal of the wife who understands the reality of her husband's work. The film is stage bound and the children are awful but it is a worthwhile piece of history.
- 1946, Davis was pregnant and insecure and the overwrought "Deception" betrays her personal tensions. The film is high camp entertainment with an over the top Claude Rains as a conductor/composer. A plush melodrama, probably the last real Davis vehicle, what it lacks in credibility, mainly due to the censors, it makes up for in over the top dramatics.

The prints of all of the films are superb. All the disks contain Warner Brother's Night at the Movies, that entertaining program of cartoon, shorts and trailers - something for everyone. There are commentaries on 4 of the films - two good, one not so good and one dreadul. Janine Basinger gets better and better and her comments about "In This Our Life" are first rate. She also has a wry sense of humour which adds so much. The commentary for "Deception" is interesting because the commentator carefully points out how what went on behind the scenes, particularly Davis's personal life at this time, affected what can be seen on the celluloid. This is a good character study of Davis and her art. For "All This in Heaven Too", Daniel Bubbeo lost me in the first 10 minutes when he managed to completely repeat himself, almost word for word. He is wet in the worst sense. The commentator for "Watch on the Rhine" is a Lillian Hellman biographer and manages to talk almost entirely for the duration without mentioning the film. He also is a Claudette Colbert fan, including irrelevant stuff about Colbert, even going so far as to undermine Davis's famous performance in "All About Eve" when she replaced Colbert. This is a rotten commentary.

The set is excellent value.
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on April 2, 2008
Those incredible Bette Davis eyes are on display in this 6 disc example of her films ranging from 1939 to 1946. A young woman who becomes an "old maid", a noble governess, a good girl, a bad girl, a noble wife and a musician---she carries each film with her own brand of style. From dignified performances to all out histrionics, these films show Davis in all her glory when she was the Queen of Warner Brothers. Each disc is seperately packaged in a snap case with art work. The prints are fine with some mild scratching and speckling on some but only minor. A true collector's item. And a fine chance to see Mary Astor's Oscar winning performance in "The Great Lie". Enjoy.
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VINE VOICEon July 15, 2014
“Deception has very little plot- a cellist named Karel Novak (Paul Henreid) suddenly appears in New York after being assumed dead by Christine Radcliffe (Bette Davis_) a concert pianist-piano teacher. He had been the love of her life, but in the long interim, Christine had become the mistress of Alexander Hollenius, a composer- acerbic, witty, a character much more interesting than the somewhat leaden Karel. In typical fashion Davis wrings her hands and agonizes all over the place trying to convince Karel that Alex was simply a fellow musician, not her lover. Well, Karel does smell a rat as Christine swans about in a gorgeous New York penthouse replete with priceless antiques, all donated by Hollenius and hardly obtainable on a music teacher's modest salary. But Christine does her darndest to prove to Karel that's she's pure as the driven snow and certainly not, God forbid, a man's mistress. She and Karel marry and Alex becomes the puppeteer, pulling strings of his own invention by manipulating Karel, upsetting Christine and having a jolly time doing so. He steals the show with that sardonic smirk, those expressive black eyebrows, pure ham and pure delightful.

This 1948 black and white film is beautifully and imaginatively photographed. While the film is not really a noir one, it is atmospheric, and you may feel your own hair is getting wet during a sullen, foggy rainy New York night. How the trick of making Henreid magnificently “play” the cello, with the usual facial grimaces players on stringed instruments are well known for, the left hand fingers plucking those vibrating strings, the right hand making the bow sing I can't imagine. (I am reminded of Cary Grant convincingly “playing” the harp in “The Bishop's Wife”).

The funniest scene in the film occurs when Hollenius takes Christine and Karel to a fancy restaurant for a pre-concert dinner. Alex proceeds to be the ultimate gourmet, endlessly discussing entrees, sauces, truffles and the like, enthralling the waiters. At one point a waiter brings by a large platter of something. Alex picks up a tiny dead bird- a lark, maybe- and even smells it. He chatters away endlessly in French, opining that no woodcocks are available. His two guests grow more and more sullen as Alex carries out his little performance.

To modern audiences, Christine's little charade of not being Alex's lover seems extremely over-wrought. Perhaps people were more innocent in 1946. However, “Deception” is well worth watching, especially seeing Bette Davis at the top of her form. They don't make them like Bette Davis any more.
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on December 10, 2014
IF YOU WANT TO SEE A CLASSIC BETTE DAVIS MOVIE AS WELL AS A TYPICAL FAUX SILVER PLATED WARNER BROTHERS MOVIE FROM THE DAWNING OF TELEVISION THAT SIGNALED TWILIGHT FOR THE DOMINANCE OF AMERICA'S ENTERTAINMENT BY THE BIG STUDIOS, BY ALL MEANS PURCHASE AND ENJOY THIS MOVIE. A CLASSIC EXAMPLE OF THE HIGH ART DECEPTION (THAT IS, TEARJERKERS PUT TOGETHER BY DIRECTORS AND ACTORS WHO DISTRACT THE VIEWER WITH THE RICH PATINA THEY APPLY MORE QUICKLY THAN THE VIEWER CAN GRASP) THIS IS A HUGELY ENJOYABLE FILM WITH BETTE DAVIS, CLAUDE RAINS, AND PAUL HENREID (PLUS OTHER PLAYERS YOU MAY HAVE SEEN AT RICK'S IN CASABLANCA) IN TOP FORM. THIS FILM IS A TREAT NO MATTER WHETHER YOU JUST SEE IT THROUGH OR SEE RIGHT THROUGH IT. EUGENE CULLEN KENNEDY, EMERITUS PROFESSOR OF PSYCHOLOGY. LOYOLA UNIVERSITY, CHICAGO
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