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Bette Davis 100th Birthday Box Set [DVD] [2008]

4.7 out of 5 stars 141 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, Charles Boyer, George Brent, Paul Henreid
  • Directors: Irving Rapper
  • Format: Box set, PAL, Black & White
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 6
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: 16 Jun. 2008
  • Run Time: 638 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (141 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0014T7EKU
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,979 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

To commemorate Bette Davis' 100th birthday, Warner Brothers are releasing six films from her heyday on DVD for the first time. The box set features some of her best films, including:

- In This Our Life: The tale of two sisters, Stanley (Bette Davis) and Roy (Olivia de Havilland) Timberlake. When Stanley runs off with Roy's husband, she soon drives him to suicide. Upon her return home she finds that Roy has fallen in love with her ex-fiancé, Craig. Stanley, being a selfish and jealous woman, tries to get Craig back which leads to a climatic conflict.

- The Old Maid: Based on an Edith Wharton novel and Pulitzer Prize-winning play, The Old Maid tells the sad story of Charlotte, a woman whose circumstances force her to give up her illegitimate child and pose as the child’s "old maid" aunt, thereby facing a lifetime of maternal sacrifice. As Charlotte, Bette Davis gives one of her most nuanced performances, aging from wide-eyed girl to gray-haired martinet. Miriam Hopkins provides effective counterbalance with her portrayal of Charlotte’s effusive cousin, who raises the little girl.

- All This And Heaven Too: The film tells the story of a governess, Henriette Deluzy-Desportes (Bette Davis) who is accused of having an affair with her employer, the Duc de Praslin (Charles Boyer), and who is then accused of complicity in the murder of his wife, the Duchesse de Praslin (Barbara O'Neil).

- The Great Lie: Tempestuous, ambitious concert pianist Sandra Kovac (Mary Astor) shares a bond with down-to-earth Maggie Van Allen (Bette Davis) and her little boy Pete. Sandra’s chic New York friends can’t imagine what the two women have in common. What they don’t know is that Pete is actually Sandra’s son – and the son of the heroic aviator (George Brent) that both women love. Powerful emotions rage against a backdrop of powerful music in the film that earned Astor a 1941 Best Supporting Actress Oscar® for her stellar performance opposite the legendary star who always gives a tour-de-force performance.

- Watch On The Rhine: An adaptation of Lillian Hellman's play, Bette Davis and Paul Lukas are German anti-Nazi underground leaders who flee the country, only to be pursued to the U.S. by Nazi agents.

- Deception: The three stars (Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains) and director (Irving Rapper) of Now Voyager reunite for this glamorous, angst-ridden melodrama. Based on Louis Verneuil’s 1928 play Jealousy, the film tells the story of pianist Christine Radcliffe separated from her great love, cellist Karel Novak by World War II. Unexpectedly reunited with him, Christine desperately strives to hide her wartime dalliance as the mistress of a wealthy, sadistic composer (Rains), with devastating results.

From Amazon.co.uk

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 sets 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 peak. 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".--Donald Liebenson

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
This set contains six movies, where the previous volumes had only five or four. Even so far into Bette Davis' work, there are still rich pickings and real gems to be found:-

Old Maid (1939) - Bette's first pairing with real life enemy Miriam Hopkins. Their mutual dislike brought fire and energy to their performances. Some of those scenes really spark.

All This And Heaven Too (1940) - This is Bette being good. A period tale of unrequited love. I wish she had done more films with Charles Boyer.

In This Our Life (1942) - This is Bette being bad. She wreaks havoc in the lives of those around her. Lifetime friend Olivia de Havilland plays her good sister.

The Great Lie (1941) - Mary Astor graciously gave much credit to Bette when she won her supporting role Oscar. They all drink so many juleps, I don't know how any of them could stand up!

Deception (1946) - Bette's juggernaut was running out of steam by 1946. This is highly watchable, but not as good as most of her early 40s movies.

Watch On The Rhine (1943) - Not really a Bette Davis vehicle, more of a wartime propoganda jobbie that studies American attitudes during the early years of the war in Europe. Bette takes a good part, but does not seem to get much screen time.

All in all a very good set of movies from a Hollywood legend. Nobody else could be this good by Volume 3.
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By Adrian Drew TOP 500 REVIEWER on 11 May 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The 100th Birthday Box Set is a wonderful collection of perfectly re-mastered disks with a wealth of excellent extras. The selection shows Ms Davis in her many moods - comic - tragic - and just plain wicked - and provides a highly enjoyable and entertaining experience. The scripts are great - the direction impressive and the music scores lush and memorable. Miss D. is admirably supported by such greats as Miriam Hopkins, Mary Astor and her much-loved co-star of many of her movies, George Brent. You even get newsreels from all the year's featured as well as shorts from the period, and rare cartoons too. So fasten your seat-belt - for those of you who like this kind of thing - you are in for a for some truly memorable nights at the movies!
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Everything one expects from Bette Davies is here. The magnetic eyes and expressions, beautifull diction, and the ability to play angelic characters just as convincingly as evil ones. What makes this Set even more enjoyable are the Special Features.Each film can be viewed as a Warner Bros Hollywood Night at the Movies,with a News Reel of the time, a short feature film,a Cartoon, and advertising Trailers-played continuously as in the days before cinemas showed only the main feature.One interesting clip shows Bette recieving an award with Mickey Rooney for most popular actor and actress of 1940.She is well complemented with performances from Mary Astor, Olivia DeHaviland,Claude Rains, George Brent,Paul Henreid,Charles Boyer, Barbara O'neil, and Paul Lukas.This is a dramatic and breathtaking six box set.
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Format: DVD
This is nominally the third collection of Bette Davis movies, and contains six films, where the previous two contained only five.

Each DVD comes with extras broadly titled 'Warner Night at the Movies', made up of shorts, newsreels and cartoons contemporary to the films. Some have a commentary, most have an original trailer. There are no new featurettes.

In This Our Life - A surprise flop (or was it? see comments) from 1942/3. Bette never wanted to play it as she felt she was too old for the role. It plays well accross the decades 'though. This is Bette being bad!

The Old Maid - Bette's first pairing with real life enemy Miriam Hopkins. It is said that their mutual dislike brought out the best in both their performances. Some of those scenes really spark with energy.

All This And Heaven Too - One of my favorites. Historical drama of unrequited love. Look out for the mother from TV's 'Lost In Space' June Lockhart playing the eldest (French) girl in her care.

The Great Lie - They all drink so many juleps, it is a wonder any of them can stand up! Mary Astor picked up a supporting role Oscar. In her acceptance speech, she graciously gave much credit to Bette.

Watch On The Rhine - Not a Bette Davis vehicle, it is more an anti Nazi propoganda film. The Mother played by our own Lucille Watson seems to have more screen time than Bette. All credit to Bette that she was prepared to take a less than full starring role in aid of the war effort.

Deception - Bette's juggernaut was running out of steam by 1946. Highly watchable, but not as good as most of her early '40s movies.

I suppose we have to wait until June, but it will be a long impatient wait for me!
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By Torchy on 14 Jun. 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Pure magic - for fans of Bette Davis and for modern film buffs wanting to become more familiar with 'classic' performances. Perhaps she really was the greatest actress who ever lived. She really does have an astonishing corpus of work, and this set is evidence of that. Try looking at any scene she is in without watching her. It's very difficult, if not impossible, to take your eyes off her. Katharine Hepburn comes close in the acting stakes, but Bette wins by a look, a shrug and a cigarette.
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