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"The Bette Davis Collection, Volume 3"
Wayne Klein
Studio: Warner Home Video
Genre: Drama/Comedy
Special Features: Commentary tracks, "Warner Night At The Movies", trailers, cartoons, newsreels

There's ample satisfaction in watching Bette Davis chew the scenery unlike some of her contemporaries because, frankly, she had the acting chops to completely chew up every morsel. The third volume of "The Bette Davis Collection" provides fans with six new to DVD films from the Warner catalog that captures Davis in peak form. As with all these collections, some films are better than others but the best here makes this set essential for fans. ***

"The Old Maid" is the oldest of the bunch dating from 1939 and featuring Davis along side Miriam Hopkins in a love triangle with George Brent set during the Civil War. This type of play makes you wonder about the taste of the Pulitzer committee (the play won that prestigious prize). ***

"All This And Heaven Too" features a strong performance from co-star Charles Boyer as Davis' love interest in a story where Davis plays a governess who falls for the man of the household where she works. It features a great and more restrained performance from Davis ***

"The Great Lie" has Davis again as a woman in love with an unobtainable man once again played by George Brent who is torn between two woman (the second is actress Mary Astor who won an Oscar for her role). ***

"In This Our Life" is directed by John Huston. Don't let that fool you as this isn't the Huston of "The Maltese Falcon". Huston takes what is basically a typical Hollywood melodrama and blows it up even larger than life. Basically recycling the same plot as "The Great Lie" and "The Old Maid", "In This Our Life" is a typical programmer of the period and, in spite of Huston as director and co-star Olivia de Havilland, it isn't a very good one at that. ***

"Watch On The Rhine" stands above all the rest of the films included here from the casting to the writing and direction. Based on the play by Lilian Hellman and adapted by Dashiell Hammett, "Watch On The Rhine" has pedigree. The plot is pretty much by-the-numbers wartime suspense drama redeemed by marvelous writing on the part of Hammett, sharp direction and some strong performances. ***

"Deception" the last of the set features Davis with co-stars Paul Heinreid and Claude Rains who appeared with Davis in "Now Voyager". This is the over-the-top type of drama that one would expect from the period where Davis plays a concert pianist who is in love with a brute of a man (Rains of course). When an old lover (Heinreid naturally) who she believed dead reappears, all heck breaks loose. ---

Image & Sound:

As with the other films in the previous collection, Warner does a good job of making sure these older films look as good as possible. There are some minor analog imperfections that crop up now and again due to the age of the source material but on the whole the image quality is extremely good with sharp images, solid blacks and nice, crisp grays.

Special Features:

We get the "Warner Night at The Movies" extras which include classic cartoons, trailers and/or newsreels from the appropriate time frame. ***

Most notable are some commentary tracks. "In This Our Life" features Jean Basinger in an entertaining commentary track. "Watch On The Rhine" features film historian Bernard Dick and "All This And Heaven" features Daniel Bubbeo. In both cases they lack the charisma to keep you involved in their commentary tracks and I found myself switching back and forth once their commentaries became tedious (which was quite often).

Final Words:

A marvelous set again from Warner, the third time is the charm for Ms. Davis with some interesting period pieces and a couple of strong performances among these films.


Copyright @ Teakwood Productions 2000
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