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The Bette Davis Collection, Vol. 1 (Now, Voyager / Dark Victory / The Letter / Mr. Skeffington / The Star)
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Bette Davis Collection Volume 1 includes 2 new-to-DVD classics, featuring Davis in her ninth Academy Award nominated role as movie queen Margaret Elliot whose popularity and fortune has ended. In MR. SKEFFINGTON, Davis portrays Fanny, a beauty who has used her looks to manipulate her way through life. But now diphtheria has robbed her of her only attribute. And without her looks, she's lost. NOW, VOYAGER stars Davis' magical portrayal of Charlotte Vale, a spinster who defies her domineering mother (fellow Oscar nominee Gladys Cooper) to discover love, heartbreak and eventual contentment. In DARK VICTORY, Bette Davis delivers a bravura, moving-but-never-morbid performance as Judith Traherne, a dying heiress determined to find happiness in her few remaining months. THE LETTER, a peerless example of melodrama as movie art, stars Davis as an adulterer using her sexual wiles to escape a murder conviction.]]>
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The set includes:
NOW, VOYAGER - Based on the novel by Olive Higgins Prouty. Charlotte Vale (Davis) flees her mother's suffocating grip and finds romance with a handsome divorcee (Paul Henreid). Co-starring Claude Rains and Gladys Cooper. Extra features: music scoring sessions.
MR. SKEFFINGTON - Based on a story by "Elizabeth". Davis shines as Fanny Trellis, a vain and self-centered beauty who only learns the lesson of true love after suffering the ravages of diphtheria. Extra features: "Mr. Skeffington - A Picture of Strength" documentary, and audio commentary by director Vincent Sherman.
THE STAR - Alcoholic washed-up diva Margaret Elliot (Davis) is saved by a former co-star (Sterling Hayden) and discovers a life beyond the false facade of Hollywood. Davis plays a thinly-veiled caricature of Joan Crawford! Extra features: "How Real is The Star?" documentary.
THE LETTER - Based on the novel by Somerset Maugham. Davis is Leslie Crosbie, a woman guilty of murdering her lover in cold blood. Although she later gets acquitted of the crime, vengeance is only a heartbeat away. Extra features: alternate ending, plus two Lux Theater radio presentations.Read more ›
However, a friend of mine reviews DVDs for a living, and received it a few days ago. It is stunning.
Whereas previously the only DVD of DARK VICTORY was muddy,dirty, and downright ugly, Warner Bros. has restored it, and the difference is like "night and days". The new DVD is beautiful and one of Bette's best.
The previously released NOW, VOYAGER and THE LETTER are here, also, restored to their original theatrical glow in gorgeous presentations.
But, best of all, we get a bew to DVD transfer of the COMPLETE version of MR. SKEFFINGTON, with commentary from its (god-bless-him, 98 year old director, Mr. Vincent Sherman!). SKEFFINGTON was cut from its nearly 150 minute version to about 127 minutes soon after release, until 1988 when certain talented folks at MGM/UA knew that there WAS a longer version! And it was wonderful!
How lucky are we that Warner Home Video had the panache and taste to put this GREAT package together at such a value price!
Even if you have one of the old DVD versions, it makes sense to buy this new box as the price is hard to resist. 5 of Bette's best in a beautiful case for less than 50 bucks? Amazing!
Rather than a lengthy mini-review of each title, let me just say that overall: The Star is possibly the weakest of the movies contained herein, and it is still a fantastically entertaining piece of film. It's funny, touching, and a fascinating look at a long-dead Hollywood system. Also, the rumours that the character and portrayal were based on Joan Crawford are completely proven here!! Dark Victory, in my opinion, is the strongest film - as an Actress, Ms. Davis' performance here is far better than merely Oscar-worthy - it's Oscar-defining. Never OTT or melodramatic, it's a strong testament to the power of this particular performance that it's every bit as emotionally relevant today as it was when it was made - some sixty-five years ago!!
The DVD quality, I have to say, blew me away. These remastered movies are sharp, smooth and absolutely gorgeous to look at. Dark black areas are truly black, contrast balance is never an issue, and the crystal-clear sharpness of the images remains intact, overall. Some parts of The Letter and Now, Voyager are maybe not as good as the other movies - but are still some of the best examples of digital resotration going. Sound is mono, but a decent sort of mono, and with decent TV speakers it's not such a big deal.
Each DVD has its own mini-extras, all come with some interesting comments from Historians, Biographers and Directors, and this makes for a great accompaniment of factoids to already-worthwhile movies.Read more ›
Bette Davis is at her absolute peak in THE BETTE DAVIS COLLECTION: VOLUME ONE from Warner Home Video. DARK VICTORY (1939), THE LETTER (1940), NOW, VOYAGER (1942), MR. SKEFFINGTON (1944), and THE STAR (1952) all got her Best Actress Oscar nominations. In most cases, I feel she should have won over the eventual winner. Her performances hold up better.
Directed by Edmund Goulding (GRAND HOTEL), DARK VICTORY has Miss Davis as a young woman going blind from brain cancer. Made during Hollywood's greatest year, 1939, it is a supremely well made tearjerker that is too well acted by Bette to be depressing. Max Steiner did the music, Casey Robinson wrote the screenplay, and the co-stars include Geraldine Fitzgerald and Ronald Reagan.
THE LETTER, one of three masterpieces Bette Davis made with director William Wyler, is based on a W. Somerset Maugham story. It is about murder and adultery on a Southeast Asian rubber plantation. Nominated for seven Oscars, including Picture and Direction and Actress, this is a gorgeously photographed and gripping tale of a woman who kills her lover, then tries to get away with it. Herbert Marshall is flawless as her likeable husband and Henry Stephenson is her lawyer. With this, OF HUMAN BONDAGE, and THE RAZOR'S EDGE, Maugham hit gold with Hollywood adaptations of his work.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
LOVE Bette! Long may she reign as one of the few greatest actors of her era.Published 2 months ago by Ghostcat
Great collection of her films; she was not just a brilliant actress - no one today can touch her - but she was a real STAR!Published 5 months ago by VACATLADY
Just bought it, but need to know WHAT MOVIES ARE INCLUDED IN THE VHS SET? I CANNOT SEEM TO FIND THE ANSWER!Published 7 months ago by Joyce Cerami
How can you miss with Bette Davis. She's simply fascinating and the best actress ever!Published 17 months ago by star80