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The Bette Davis Collection, Vol. 3 (The Old Maid / All This, And Heaven Too / The Great Lie / In This Our Life / Watch on the Rhine / Deception)

4.6 out of 5 stars 178 ratings

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April 1, 2008
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Bette Davis Collection Volume 3 (DVD)

IN THIS OUR LIFE Homewrecker Davis runs off with sister Olivia de Havilland’s hubby and that’s just for starters! THE OLD MAID Let the fireworks begin. Miriam Hopkins poses as the mother of the child Davis bore out of wedlock…the arrangement is beginning to fray. ALL THIS, AND HEAVEN TOO Enchanted by governess Davis, nobleman Charles Boyer murders his wife. But is la Bette as innocent as she appears? THE GREAT LIE Friends make the best enemies. Scheming concert pianist Mary Astor and selfless Davis are entangled in secrets and lies. DECEPTION Now, Voyagers' Davis, Claude Rains and Paul Henried reunite in a gloriously flamboyant tale of musicians, indiscretion and murder. WATCH ON THE RHINE A leader of Germany’s anti-Hitler underground is hunted by Nazi agents in Washington DC. Dashiell Hammett adapts Lillian Hellman’s play.

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To quote Claude Reins in "Deception," Bette Davis is "all eyes and talent," and both burn bright in six vintage films she made for Warner Bros. between 1939-46. Lesser known than her certified classics, these are not exactly best Bettes, but they are marvelously entertaining and a representative showcase for one of Hollywood’s most enduring leading ladies. These eminently repeatable films put Davis (and viewers) through the ringer. Few actresses portrayed characters who suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune so grandly, so regally, so tragically, or so deservedly. As an ad for one of Davis’ movies once famously proclaimed, when she was good, she was very good. When she was bad, she was terrific. Just check out John Huston’s In This Our Life (1942), this set’s unearthed treasure. Bette, flouncing like mad, jilts her fiancée, steals good sister Olivia de Havilland’s husband, and promptly drives him to drink and suicide. And she’s just getting warmed up! (You don’t need Jeannine Basinger’s informed commentary to debunk the tantalizing movie legend about a supposed cameo by members of the Matlese Falcon cast. Those gents at the bar look nothing like Bogie and company. But that is Walter, John’s father, tending bar). Davis was also very good at being noble. In the prestige project, Watch on the Rhine (1943), based on Lillian Hellman’s play and adapted for the screen by Dashiell Hammett, she is the steadfast wife to Paul Lukas, in his Oscar-winning role, as a "legendary figure of the underground movement," who carries on his fight against fascism in Washington, D.C. In The Old Maid (1939), based on the novel by Edith Wharton, Bette allows her cousin (Miriam Hopkins) to give her illegitimate child a respectable name, and, posing as the girl’s unsuspecting aunt, must stand by while she grows up spoiled and "horrid." And in All This and Heaven Too (1940), she is a transplanted French schoolteacher who regales her initially scornful students with the true story behind her scandalous past. Deception is another ripping melodrama in which she stars as a pianist whose reunion with her lost love (Paul Henreid), a cellist is threatened by Rains as her arrogant and sadistic Svengali (who’s responsible for those minks in her closet). Last but not least is The Great Lie (1941), pitting Bette against Mary Astor, who won an Academy Award as the bitchy concert pianist whose son Bette is raising (long story, but it involves missing aviator George Brent, whom they both love). These films offer such they-don't-make-'em-like-this-anymore pleasures as lush, melodramatic scores by such masters as Max Steiner, hothouse emotions, quotable dialogue, and, of course, indelible character actors at their peaks. These films are seen to their best advantage when viewed as part of each disc’s bonus features that recreate an old fashioned "Night at the Movies," complete with theatrical previews, newsreels, short subjects, and Warner Bros. cartoons featuring Porky Pig or Daffy Duck. --Donald Liebenson


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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Old Movies
Reviewed in Canada on May 8, 2019
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Ronald M. Wilson
5.0 out of 5 stars A oood gift enjoyed by many
Reviewed in Canada on May 8, 2018
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GolfGwen
5.0 out of 5 stars Acceptional Viewing From The Masters
Reviewed in Canada on January 20, 2010
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Old Film Lover
4.0 out of 5 stars Warner's Bette Davis Collection, Volume 3 -- A Good Selection of Golden Age Films, with a Minor Audio Problem
Reviewed in Canada on May 24, 2016
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3.0 out of 5 stars Coffret de valeur
Reviewed in Canada on March 17, 2016
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Paula Jessop
2.0 out of 5 stars beware
Reviewed in Canada on January 1, 2013
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5.0 out of 5 stars Feedback.
Reviewed in Canada on May 6, 2016
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