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The Bette Davis Collection (Dark Victory / The Letter / Mr. Skeffington / Now, Voyager / The Star)

Bette Davis , Herbert Marshall , Edmund Goulding , Irving Rapper    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 73.45
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Product Description


Even in the 21st century, very few film stars create and define their own genre--and certainly not in the complete way Bette Davis did. The Bette Davis Collection gives an exceptionally good survey of essential Bette, with four of the five films absolute knock-down classics from her long reign at Warner Bros. Davis's personality was so strong that she tended to overpower her directors, but William Wyler was one of the few to maintain his own distinctive style with her, and The Letter (1940) is a triumph for both of them. At a humid Malaysian plantation, Davis kills a man in the brilliant opening sequence, and the remainder is a darkly suggestive unraveling of the complicated explanation.

Dark Victory (1939) and Now, Voyager (1942) would be on anybody's list of most representative Davis pictures. In the former, she's a doomed heiress nobly losing her eyesight, a multiple-handkerchief situation that proved one of her biggest hits. Voyager allows Davis one of her favored techniques (appearing frumpy for at least part of her performance) as a mother-dominated spinster who comes out of her shell. Her match with Paul Henreid--and the music of Max Steiner--turns this into one luscious melodrama.

If Mr. Skeffington (1944) is not as celebrated as those films, it is nevertheless a characteristic Warners work-out. Davis wasn't shy about playing unsympathetic roles, and Fanny Skeffington--vain, selfish, married for practicality--is an exasperating tour de force. She gets good support from Claude Rains as the sensible, adoring husband. The Star (1952) is no classic, but its Pirandellian aspects will appeal to the actress's fans: Bette plays a washed-up Oscar-winning star desperate to get herself back in the public eye (think if it as a less witty postscript to All About Eve). There's some hint the main character is modeled more on Joan Crawford than Bette herself, in which case Davis must have loved playing it.

Extras are modest, with short featurettes giving background on three of the discs, and director Vincent Sherman providing commentary for Mr. Skeffington. But the films themselves, and their neurotically intense star, are quite capable of standing alone. --Robert Horton

Product Description

The Bette Davis Collection features classics from the star whose career spanned decades: Dark Victory, The Letter, Mr. Skeffington, Now, Voyager, and The Star.

In the Bette Davis Collection: Dark Victory: In this tour de force, Bette Davis portrays a Long Island socialite who learns she has less than a year to live. The fine cast includes George Brent, Humphrey Bogart, Geraldine Fitzgereld and Ronald Reagan. Year: 1939 Director: Edmund Goulding Starring: Bette Davis, George Brent, Humphrey Bogart.

The Letter: Bette Davis plays a clever, unfaithful wife turned desperate murderess in this taut drama set in steamy Singapore.

Mr. Skeffington: Whose face ravaged, grotesque is in the mirror? Surely it’s not that of Fanny Skeffington, the prettiest woman in New York. Fanny always used her beauty to manipulate her way through life. She’s encouraged dozens of suitors, even after her marriage. But now diphtheria has robbed her of her only attribute. And without her looks, she’s lost. Bette Davis earned her eighth Best Actress Oscar nomination portraying Fanny

Now, Voyager: Bette Davis magically plays Charlotte Vale, a spinster who defies her domineering mother (fellow Oscar nominee Gladys Cooper) to discover love, heartbreak and eventual contentment. More magic is generated by a top-notch ensemble, Max Steiner’s Academy Award-winning score and an improvised moment by Paul Henreid that became an instant classic: he lights two cigarettes at once and hands one to Davis. For the ultimate in romantic melodrama, it’s Now Voyager now, then and forever.

The Star: As Margaret, Bette Davis got yet another good picture and earned her ninth Academy Award nomination. Davis’s confident, perceptive performance lends absolute authenticity, as did a prop she provided. An Oscar statuette set noticeably on the car dashboard during Margaret’s drunken spin through Beverly Hills - was one of two Davis owned.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars frustrated March 9 2014
I too ended up with a defective DVD In this our life however so enjoyed the other DVD's
Tried to find this DEV as a single however have not been successful
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing Jan. 2 2011
I enjoyed all the movies but my very favourite (In This Our Life) was defective so I did not see the ending of it. It was a great disapointment to me. How do you solve this problem? Jeanne Rice This is the first time I have had a problem
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By madge
this is a well grouped collection of early betty davis films that are highly enjoyable and satisfying to watch--her ability to enact characters who differ greatly in personality is a tribute to her timeless appeal as an actress--a great purchase
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  61 reviews
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars dazzling Davis! March 6 2008
By Byron Kolln - Published on Amazon.com
This is actually a re-packaged version of the first Warners' Bette Davis set (previously available as The Bette Davis Collection (The Star / Mr. Skeffington / Dark Victory / Now, Voyager / The Letter)). 2008 will mark Bette Davis's 100th birthday, and Warner Bros. is celebrating by re-releasing their first two Davis DVD box sets in brand-new packaging, to accompany the new third volume.

The set includes:

NOW, VOYAGER - Based on the novel by Olive Higgins Prouty. Charlotte Vale (Davis) flees her mother's suffocating grip and finds romance with a handsome divorcee (Paul Henreid). Co-starring Claude Rains and Gladys Cooper. Extra features: music scoring sessions.

MR. SKEFFINGTON - Based on a story by "Elizabeth". Davis shines as Fanny Trellis, a vain and self-centered beauty who only learns the lesson of true love after suffering the ravages of diphtheria. Extra features: "Mr. Skeffington - A Picture of Strength" documentary, and audio commentary by director Vincent Sherman.

THE STAR - Alcoholic washed-up diva Margaret Elliot (Davis) is saved by a former co-star (Sterling Hayden) and discovers a life beyond the false facade of Hollywood. Davis plays a thinly-veiled caricature of Joan Crawford! Extra features: "How Real is The Star?" documentary.

THE LETTER - Based on the novel by Somerset Maugham. Davis is Leslie Crosbie, a woman guilty of murdering her lover in cold blood. Although she later gets acquitted of the crime, vengeance is only a heartbeat away. Extra features: alternate ending, plus two Lux Theater radio presentations.

DARK VICTORY - Davis plays afflicted Judith Traherne, in a stirring portrait of courage under fire. A millionairess faced with a bleak prognosis, Judith decides to spend her final days with no regrets. Extra features: "1939 - Tough Competition for Dark Victory" documentary, plus audio commentary with James Ursini and Paul Clinton.

If you already own the previous release, there's no need to upgrade; it's the exact same content we had for the previous edition. Happy Birthday, Miss Davis!
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 MASTERPIECES FROM THE GREAT MS. DAVIS June 7 2005
By Eric - Published on Amazon.com
I do not have the good fortune yet to have a copy of this set yet.

However, a friend of mine reviews DVDs for a living, and received it a few days ago. It is stunning.

Whereas previously the only DVD of DARK VICTORY was muddy,dirty, and downright ugly, Warner Bros. has restored it, and the difference is like "night and days". The new DVD is beautiful and one of Bette's best.

The previously released NOW, VOYAGER and THE LETTER are here, also, restored to their original theatrical glow in gorgeous presentations.

But, best of all, we get a bew to DVD transfer of the COMPLETE version of MR. SKEFFINGTON, with commentary from its (god-bless-him, 98 year old director, Mr. Vincent Sherman!). SKEFFINGTON was cut from its nearly 150 minute version to about 127 minutes soon after release, until 1988 when certain talented folks at MGM/UA knew that there WAS a longer version! And it was wonderful!

How lucky are we that Warner Home Video had the panache and taste to put this GREAT package together at such a value price!

Even if you have one of the old DVD versions, it makes sense to buy this new box as the price is hard to resist. 5 of Bette's best in a beautiful case for less than 50 bucks? Amazing!

Grab it!
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How NICE for Eve. How NICE for EVERYBODY!! July 25 2005
By Review Lover - Published on Amazon.com
This box-set really is a must-have for all Bette fans. Bar the titles already on DVD - and if you find that in buying this set that you will end up with some doubles, get it anyway, it's excellent value at under $40 - the rest of the movies are really some of Bette's best efforts, and are well-worth your hard-earned cash.

Rather than a lengthy mini-review of each title, let me just say that overall: The Star is possibly the weakest of the movies contained herein, and it is still a fantastically entertaining piece of film. It's funny, touching, and a fascinating look at a long-dead Hollywood system. Also, the rumours that the character and portrayal were based on Joan Crawford are completely proven here!! Dark Victory, in my opinion, is the strongest film - as an Actress, Ms. Davis' performance here is far better than merely Oscar-worthy - it's Oscar-defining. Never OTT or melodramatic, it's a strong testament to the power of this particular performance that it's every bit as emotionally relevant today as it was when it was made - some sixty-five years ago!!

The DVD quality, I have to say, blew me away. These remastered movies are sharp, smooth and absolutely gorgeous to look at. Dark black areas are truly black, contrast balance is never an issue, and the crystal-clear sharpness of the images remains intact, overall. Some parts of The Letter and Now, Voyager are maybe not as good as the other movies - but are still some of the best examples of digital resotration going. Sound is mono, but a decent sort of mono, and with decent TV speakers it's not such a big deal.

Each DVD has its own mini-extras, all come with some interesting comments from Historians, Biographers and Directors, and this makes for a great accompaniment of factoids to already-worthwhile movies.

A wonderful collection of some of Davis' best performances, remastered to within an inch of perfection, and for a relatively low price, this is a DVD Box Set that you can't and shouldn't miss. Highly recommended.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is why I love Bette Davis movies--the summit July 5 2006
By Stephen H. Wood - Published on Amazon.com
Bette Davis is close to my favorite actress. She drove studio boss Jack Warner nuts because of her uncanny ability to pick excellent properties that would challenge her as an actress and roles that her millions of fans would love her in. If Joan Crawford was a movie star who always insisted on looking glamorous, Davis was a serious and demanding actress who was not afraid to look awful if the role was great (MR. SKEFFINGTON, WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE).

Bette Davis is at her absolute peak in THE BETTE DAVIS COLLECTION: VOLUME ONE from Warner Home Video. DARK VICTORY (1939), THE LETTER (1940), NOW, VOYAGER (1942), MR. SKEFFINGTON (1944), and THE STAR (1952) all got her Best Actress Oscar nominations. In most cases, I feel she should have won over the eventual winner. Her performances hold up better.

Directed by Edmund Goulding (GRAND HOTEL), DARK VICTORY has Miss Davis as a young woman going blind from brain cancer. Made during Hollywood's greatest year, 1939, it is a supremely well made tearjerker that is too well acted by Bette to be depressing. Max Steiner did the music, Casey Robinson wrote the screenplay, and the co-stars include Geraldine Fitzgerald and Ronald Reagan.

THE LETTER, one of three masterpieces Bette Davis made with director William Wyler, is based on a W. Somerset Maugham story. It is about murder and adultery on a Southeast Asian rubber plantation. Nominated for seven Oscars, including Picture and Direction and Actress, this is a gorgeously photographed and gripping tale of a woman who kills her lover, then tries to get away with it. Herbert Marshall is flawless as her likeable husband and Henry Stephenson is her lawyer. With this, OF HUMAN BONDAGE, and THE RAZOR'S EDGE, Maugham hit gold with Hollywood adaptations of his work.

I adore NOW, VOYAGER. also written by Casey Robinson and directed by Irving Rapper. It may be Miss Davis' crowning achievement. She has a fabulous role as Charlotte Vale, who is a brow-beaten and timid spinster under harridan mother Gladys Cooper. But kindly sanitarium owner Claude Rains and likeable lover Paul Henreid (both the same year they did CASABLANCA) draw Charlotte out of her shell and make her love herself. She tells off Cooper ("If I am a guest in this house, then treat me like one!"), who meets a "stand up and cheer" bad end. Eventually, in one of the loveliest set of scenes she ever played, Davis' Charlotte gets to help draw Henreid's insecure young daughter out of HER shell. This tearjerker masterpiece is the film classic where Henreid keeps lighting two cigarettes and giving her one ("Shall we have a cigarette on it?") It is incomparable, maybe my all-time favorite Bette Davis movie.

MR. SKEFFINGTON, restored from 127 to 146 minutes, is one of Bette Davis' most neglected tearjerker masterpieces. It is an elegantly produced and written (Julius and Philip Epstein) feast of a soap opera that spans several decades of the early 20th Century in two-and-a-half hours. It is about a woman who is so beautiful that men flock to her and overlook her intense vanity. We are in 1914 on a movie that will go all the way to when it was made in 1944. When Davis' Fanny contracts disfiguring diptheria, only Claude Rains' Job Skeffington, her husband by then, stands by her. This movie knockout, another Davis film I truly love, was directed by Vincent Sherman, who is still with us at age 99. He does the audio commentary!

The fifth Bette Davis film in this pure gold boxed set from Warner Home Video is the little-known THE STAR, with Bette playing a variation of herself when the movie was made independently and on a low-budget in 1952. Oscar-winning actress Margaret Ellis is losing her looks, has bills to pay,.and no studio in Hollywood will give her a job. So she proudly takes humiliating work outside the film colony. Stuart Heisler directed an original screenplay by Katherine Alpert and Dale Eunson that may be one of the best movies ever made about the real workings of Hollywood. Sterling Hayden and an adolescent Natalie Wood co-star.

THE BETTE DAVIS COLLECTION (VOLUME ONE) is an absolute must-own feast for her fans, and at least a must-see for fans of vintage Hollywood B&W tearjerkers. This collection is the summit for me, and VOLUME TWO (also out now) is also worth seeing. Recipient of two Oscars and ten nominations, Davis has been done proud by these two boxed sets from Warner Home Video, the Rolls Royce of the DVD industry.
28 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All This and Bette, Too April 29 2005
By Jery Tillotson - Published on Amazon.com
At last, we're getting the legacy collections of some of our legendary stars. For the Bette collection, I do hope they've cleaned up and restored the DVD version of "Dark Victory." When I watched it, I was shocked by the poor, grainy quality. "Now Voyager" looked wonderful but there were no extras at all. There are several good Bette documentaries floating around that should be included on this collection. Like some of the other commentators here, I wish the next Bette collection would include the following:

1. In this Our Life. Bette burns up the screen as one of the most villanous psychopaths to ever appear in movies. As Stanley Timberlake, she says; "I'd rather do anything than be still." She lies, kills and destroys with abandon. A wonderfully atmospheric movie with the main part of the movie occurring against the backdrop of the decaying Timberlake mansion. Great musical score by Max Steiner.

2. Beyond the Forest. Another powerful portrait of evil as Bette sashays around as that over-sexed, frustrated Rosa Moline, who is described by one character as "Something for the birds, Rosa. Something for the BIRDS!" Bette is incredibly sexy in her Edith Head clinging dresses and robes. And you've never seen anything like Bette's death scene--all accompanied by one of Max Steiner's greatest film scores, all revolving around "Chicago, Chicago, that toddlin' town." Bette later told a reporter that there's one sequence in the movie that she had to return and re-loop (dub. "If I don't get out of here, I'll die! If I don't get out of here I HOPE I die--and burn." When she uttered those words, everyone in the projection collapsed with laughter because this is what she had been saying during the entire filming of "Beyond the Forest." Contrary to legend, Jack Warner did NOT force Bette to make this movie. She chose it. She had already turned down "Mildred Pierce," "Humoresque," "Possessed" (all Joan Crawford triumphs, "Hold Back the Dawn," (Olivia De Havilland's Oscar winner).

3. Old Acquaintance. This is a delicious brew of female rivalry, cococted into an exhilirating cocktail of catfights and threats by Bette and her arch-enemy, Miriam Hopkins. According to Davis, Hopkins pulled her usual scene-stealing tricks and did her damndest to upstage Davis in every scene. Poor director, Edmund Goulding, had his hands full.
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