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Bette Davis

David Thomson

Faber & Faber

“She could look demure while behaving like an empress. Blonde, with eyes like pearls too big for her head, she was very striking, but marginally pretty and certainly not beautiful . . . But it was her edge that made her memorable—her upstart superiority, her reluctance to pretend deference to others.”

 

Bette Davis was the commanding figure of the great era of Hollywood stardom, with a drive and energy that put her contemporaries in the shade. She played queens, jezebels, and bitches; she could out-talk any male costar; she warred with her studio, Warner Bros., worked like a demon, got through four husbands, was nominated for seven Oscars, and—no matter what—never gave up fighting. This is her story.

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Bette Davis was twenty-three and too smart for her own good. But there she was lying on a couch at Universal in a fixed camera set-up so that any man the studio could round up came in and made movie love to her. ‘You gorgeous, divine darling,’ they said – they had to say something, so they had lines written for them. ‘I adore you. I worship you. I must possess you.’ There were fifteen of them – ‘The most compulsively dedicated harlot never had a morning like mine,’ she would write – and there you see how smart she was. Not just funny, but

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  • David Thomson Reads at Google

    David Thomson - called "without doubt, the greatest living film historian" by the LA Times - discusses his latest "Great Stars" series that looks at the Hollywood backstories of Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Bette Davis, and Gary Cooper.

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“David Thomson is, without doubt, the greatest living film historian.” —ALLEN BARRA, Los Angeles Times

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • David Thomson

  • DAVID THOMSON is, among many other things, the author of The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, now in its fourth edition. His recent books include a biography of Nicole Kidman, Fan Tan (a novel written in collaboration with Marlon Brando), and The Whole Equation: A History of Hollywood. His latest work is the acclaimed Have You Seen . . . ?: A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films. Born in London, he now lives in San Francisco.

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Bette Davis

David Thomson

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Faber & Faber

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