This beautiful 264 page coffee table book is big and luxurious and only cost me £4.50 in a second hand book shop. Published in 2009, it is quality printing  and photo reproduction.

George Perry provides a mini-biography and cast lists/synopsis for Bette ‘s films, all with excellent illustrations.

And there’s a sublime 30 page introduction by Richard Schickel. His analysis is so well written – and he introduced me to two words completely new to me!

The Man Who Played God was the PALIMPSEST for many roles to come.”    (Palimpsest means something re-used or altered.)

A Bette Davis film was usually an exercise in SOLIPSISM.”

(Solipsism is the quality of being self- centred or selfish.)


Some of Schickel’s comments:

”I like JEZEBEL more than I do Gone With The Wind, that glacially paced faux epic which remains, for me, a triumph of publicity over filmmaking.”


”Her movies in the 70s and 80s tended to be carelessly horrific…..but, so far as one can tell, she never patronised her roles. She gave her all to them, as if it were still 1940 and she was still queen of the Warner lot.”


”The omnipresent cigarette, the clipped words, the abrupt gestures…….”


There have been many books about Bette Davis and this one is a fine addition to the list. Definitely to be displayed prominently on the coffee table!

It’s currently on Amazon for $5! (and Amazon UK).

And some of the terrific photos in the book:







With William Wyler


4 responses »

  1. Vienna, this write-up is a good one and as you say, with terrific photos. The late great Richard Schickel, an American film historian, journalist, author, documentarian, movie, and literary critic will be missed. Anything he wrote or filmed is worth reading and viewing.

    I liked all the photos, especially the one of Bette in white with her hands on hips from EX-LADY(1933).

  2. Fabulous photos! Love the one of her in the red suit. The one where she is wearing the white dress is great too.

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