The Great Lie 
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PLOT SUMMARY: Tempestuous, ambitious, concert pianist Sandra Kova (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 Sandra's son - and the son of the heroic aviator (George Brent) 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 tour-de-force performance opposite the legendary star who always gives a tour-de-force performance. Join two great actresses for the story of a great passion. a great sacrifice... and a great lie. ABOUT THE DVD: This is a release for the UK market (Region 2 PAL format) by WARNER HOME VIDEO. The film is presented in FULL SCREEN and in BLACK & WHITE and runs for a total of 103 minutes. The AUDIO is the original ENGLISH language (with GERMAN and SPANISH dubbed audiotracks on the DVD too). SUBTITLES are available in ENGLISH, GERMAN or SPANISH - SPECIAL FEATURES include the film's original theatrical trailer (and the trailer of "The Strawberry Blonde") along with Vintage Newreel and "Warner Night at the Moves 1941" shorts 'At The Stroke Of Twelve', 'Polo With The Stars' and the classic cartoon 'Porky's Pooch'
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Top Customer Reviews
Then Pete receives some news via his lawyer (Jerome Cowan, soon to be Bogie`s short-lived partner in The Maltese Falcon) which puts his 'marriage' into sharp focus. So he flies to Maggie at her country estate...
What follows is a slice of utterly eccentric hokum from 1941, an unclassifiable tale of secrets and lies, sacrifices and losses, unlikely alliances, a pregnancy, and more than a dollop of Tschaikovsky, hammered out by Sandra rapturously or in a rage, depending on how she`s feeling.
It`s all highly entertaining, partly down to the fact that Davis and Astor (who pretty much re-wrote a lousy script - begging the question, what must it have been like before they tinkered with it!) got on well, and Brent, though an unyielding, lazy actor, was good with women, and is credibly handsome in an overblown 'John Barrymore meets Errol Flynn' kind of way.
The dependably confident but rather unvarying Astor got her only Oscar - a Best Supporting one - for her glassy, forceful portrayal of manipulative bitchiness, but for me it`s Bette who shines the brightest. For once, she is playing someone admirable, mostly lovable, and even mischievous. There`s a scene with Brent on the balcony of her house, where they are snuggled up together, and she`s basking in the glow of love, allowing herself to be cuddled and teased.Read more ›
The story is complete tosh. No way would a normal woman want to bring up a child that is not only not her own, but also belongs to her main love rival. It would be far more realistic to see her murder the baby. On the flip side, no way would a mother give up her baby to her main love rival - she'd abort or put it up for adoption rather than hand it to someone that she hates. The story of the Great Lie is ludicrous. But it doesn't matter coz it makes for great watching. And this is down to the two women Bette Davis and Mary Astor. Their sparring is very entertaining and continues throughout the whole film. Mary Astor takes the usual Bette Davis role and has great fun with the cutting one-liners. Her piano playing scenes at her concerts are a bit suspect but she manages to make what could be a very irritating bitchy character completely watchable and will have you thinking "oh good, she's back!" instead of "Oh no, not that annoying woman again".Read more ›
One major issue is actor George Brent, who plays Pete, a man who both Maggie (Davis) and Sandra (Astor) love. For the first half of the film he is a drunk and a womaniser, it is not until later events that we grow to like him, but by this point I had lost all sympathy with his plight. Why would Maggie be so hung up about a man who would take advantage of another woman? The first act is all about the love triangle between the three and it just drags on and is dull. Even the slightly likable Maggie is not that engaging, whilst Pete and Sandra are just unpleasant. Towards the end Mary Astor comes into her role as she can produce some venom, but it is far too late to make the film enjoyable. Poor pacing makes this a Davis' film to avoid - and I don't say that often.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An unconvincing plot but an unusually sensitive performance by Bette Davis is matched by the icy brilliance of Mary Astor.Published 6 months ago by M E Willoughby
I bought these films to add to my collection, they are the type of film you can play on a rainy Sunday and just enjoy.Published 16 months ago by adrian
Loved it can't get enough of Bette Davis what a great actressPublished 19 months ago by pauline morgan-evans
THIS IS ONE OF MY FAVOURITE FILMS, THE ARRIVAL WAS SPEEDY AND AS USUAL BETTE DAVIS IS A PLEASURE TO WATCH.Published 22 months ago by JUDITH