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Old Aquaintance

Bette Davis , Miriam Hopkins , Chuck Jones , Ralph Staub    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 27.99 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins--a pair of actresses who hated each other--re-mix their chemistry from The Old Maid in Old Acquaintance, an entertaining adaptation of John Van Druten's play. The action begins with Davis, a semi-famous author, returning to her small town and the home of old friend Hopkins. The later has opted for the settled life of husband and pregnancy, and she doesn't much hide her envy of Davis's success. Then the tables turn, as Hopkins pens a series of potboilers that sell much better than her friend-rival's. The movie keeps checking up on these two as the years pass, each wanting what the other has. It kicks around such staples as career vs. family, but what comes across most memorably in Old Acquaintance is the friendship between the two characters despite their rivalry; in that sense, the best scene in the film is the last scene. Hopkins has the flashy role, a silly ninny who seemingly never stops screeching, and Davis takes the more centered, self-effacing part. (By the way, Davis said that a scene in which she wears men's pajama tops caused a bit of a vogue at the time.) The men are in the background, although John Loder does a nice job of layering a gentle humor to Hopkins' long-suffering husband. Gig Young, in one of his earliest roles, is almost unrecognizable as a Davis paramour. Vincent Sherman (Mr. Skeffington) directed this example of the "women's picture," the kind of movie that kept Bette Davis the queen of the Warner Bros. lot. It was nicely remade by director George Cukor in 1981 as Rich and Famous, with Jacqueline Bisset and Candice Bergen. --Robert Horton

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars marvellous old film Feb. 9 2011
Format:DVD
If you're a Bette Davis fan (and who isn't?) or simply a fan of the wonderful old films of the past, do try "Old Acquaintance". You won't be disappointed.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-see for any Bette Davis fan Aug. 31 2006
Format:DVD
This movie is a wonderful example of the pre-mannerism Bette Davis. Her acting is subtle, poignant and understated. The chemistry between herself and Miriam Hopkins is perfect, whatever you've heard about their off-screen dislike for each other. The featurette explaining the "women's picture" genre is interesting, but the other 2 featurettes (the cartoon and the short about horseback riding) have no place on this DVD, as there is no connection with the movie or its stars or its theme. "Filler" like this should be avoided, as it is unnecessary and does not enhance the desirability of the DVD. My only minor criticism of the audio commentary is that there isn't enough Vincent Sherman; he was the director of the picture and yet it's the other commentator that monopolizes the soundtrack. That being said, he does add interesting commentary - but no one is better than the director himself!
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  28 reviews
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The prototype "Womens Picture" - excellent package June 16 2006
By Douglas M - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
"Old Acquaintance", a masterful Warner Brothers production from 1943, tells the story of a friendship between 2 woman over 25 years of their lives. Both are authors, one of trashy romance novels and the other of serious ones. This reflects their natures. Miriam Hopkins plays the flighty superficial Millie and Bette Davis plays the level headed intellectual Kit.

Both actresses are well cast and the film raises many issues for women - career versus marriage, youth versus age in relationships etc. In 1943 Hollywood, these were unusual subjects and hence the enormous popularity of the film for the female audience. The film, moving between arch comedy and heavy drama, has a slick, glib quality and will not appeal to men.

"Old Acquaintance" is beautifully made by director, Vincent Sherman. While Hopkins penchant for theatrical mannerisms and overacting sits perfectly on her character here, Davis still outshines her with her superb mastery of the medium. Watch her use of props in this film and her movement around the sets. Hopkins has dated, Davis has not. The climax of the film is probably the scene when an exasperated Davis shakes Hopkins, reportedly reflecting the attitude of the director and the film crew, not just the audience. The film also has a fine Franz Waxman score, never used better than in an intimate scene in an hotel lobby between Davis and John Loder.

The print of the film is excellent and the DVD benefits from a very good commentary by Boz Hadleigh accompanied by the elderly Sherman. It is a treat to hear Sherman speak highly of Davis and her co-operation and intelligence while making the film. There is also a mediocre cartoon and a short film called "Stars on Horseback" which compiles clips, some of which are interpolated misleadingly from Warner's films, showing some of the studio's stars on horses - fairly dumb. The original trailer shows some shots cut from the film and lastly, there is a very good discussion of the film by the a number of historians/ biographers. These Warner's DVDs provide a lot of enjoyable extras and are good value.

This film has never been available before but can now be obtained alone or as part of the Davis Collection Volume 2. It is a worthwhile addition to the usual Davis classics.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars At last: the release of one of the most loved of all 40's "women's pictures" June 13 2006
By Jay Dickson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
When The Bette Davis Collection was rerleased last year on DVD, the most surprising omission was her famous catty comedy/melodrama with Miriam Hopkins OLD ACQUAINTANCE--not only because it is such a seminal film but also because Vincent Sgherman, the director, is one of the few directors from the Golden Age of Hollywood still alive and available to provide commentary (as he did for his other film with Davis MR. SKEFFINGTON). OLD ACQUAINTANCE does not show Davis in one of her very best roles--unfortunately she's required to be somewhat self-sacrificing, but noit in an exciting and over-the-top way (as in NOW, VOYAGER), and Hopkins gets almost all of the best comedy bits. And both the perfoirmances and the direction of the film seem to work against exploring the ambiguities in the script that suggest Davis's character Kit Marlowe may in some ways be as much to blame for the problems in her friendship with Hopkins's character Millie as is Millie herself. (Why is Kit spending so much time in the first place with Millie's husband and daughter? Even if Millie is a poor mother and wife, shouldn't Kit stay out of their lives?) But the film is famous in that it is one of the most important Golden Age films to stress at all the importance of friendship between women, and the ending where the two women, left only with one another at the end and forgiving one another, toast each other with flat champagne is beautifully done. Another plus is the sad sensitive suite for strings Franz Waxman composed for the film, which is one of his finest scores, and really brings out the pathos of the scene in Millie's husband's hotel lobby.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Millie and I remember things together." June 20 2006
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Having just read that famed director Vincent Sherman died, it seems a fitting tribute to take a look Old Acquaintance, one of the films he made with the legendary Bette Davis. Part of the recently released Bette Davis Collection volume 2, Old Acquaintance is a classy and stylish movie about the topsy-turvy relationship between two women who end up bearing it all for friendship, loyalty and for love. As the saying goes, friendship has no bounds.

In Old Acquaintance, Bette Davis plays Kit Marlowe, a serious literary writer who has returned to her childhood home to stay with her best friend Millie Drake (Miriam Hopkins). Kit is a down-to-earth and unpretentious sort of girl, modest, cheerful, and ladylike - she sails through life with an unassuming confidence. Millie's husband Preston (John Loder) obviously has a soft spot for her, and likewise Kit is attracted to him, although she doesn't want to admit it to herself or to Preston.

Millie, however, is a surefire pain the neck. Neurotic and insecure, she aches for a life of her own, outside of the trimmings of her husband and her quiet domestic existance, and is inspired by her friend's visit to try and get her trashy romance novel published. Although Kit has had minimal success herself - her own novels have "artistic merit" - she agrees to help Millie out.

Fast forward eight years 1932 and Millie has become a huge success from romance potboilers - most of the critics agree that they're trash. She's now incredibly wealthy and can afford to live in salubrious apartment in Manhattan, deck herself out in gorgeous outfits and give her young daughter Deirdre absolutely anything.

The problem is that she maybe rich but she's still self-absorbed. Preston still suffers by her side choosing to endure indignities to be a good dad to Deirdre. Kit stays the ever-loyal friend, taking Deirdre shopping and putting up with her best friend's temper tantrums. The deep love between Kit and Preston is still unfulfilled, and as the story progresses, he again professes his love for Kit. Kit returns his love but cannot "do that" to a friend.

A woman of integrity, Kit plays the martyr as she turns down Preston's advances yet again. Time moves on and all three characters cross paths, and there's more romantic shenanigans involving Deirdre, (Delores Moran) now all grown up and Kit's younger suitor Rudd Kendall (Gig Young).

Much of the drama in Old Acquaintance centers on the ever changing needs between Millie and Kit. The poor Kit is constantly having to put her own needs on the back burner, while she spends much of her live feverishly trying to placate the insufferably selfish Millie, who has never listened to reason and who automatically assumes Kit's friendship with her husband is more than platonic. Meanwhile, Kit is getting on in years and feels the pressure to marry and have children - this is a real issue for her as she's ten years older than Rudd.

Sherman directs the film with a great style and visual flair and he really manages to nail the characters, emphasizing how diametrically apposed Kit and Millie actually are. Kit is the selfless, dependable sufferer for a cause, while Millie is all to ready to sacrifice a lifelong friendship for petty jealousies.

Old Acquaintance is also notable for the fact that Bette Davis decided to take on the nice, mannered and subtle character, rather than play, showier, over-the-top role, which Hopkins made her own. This is a smart, erudite - if not a little talky - movie that really presents a friendship that truly does weather the stormy waters of time. Mike Leonard June 06.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NEW "OLD ACQUAINTANCE"..... May 31 2006
By Mark Norvell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Well, it's about time. This delicious story of two women who remain friends through tons of drama may seem dated now, but it's a rare pleasure to finally have it available on DVD. Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins are perfectly matched as the two friends even though they did not get along in real life. Davis is Kit Marlowe, a writer who's more critically successful than financially and Hopkins is her lifelong friend who follows in her footsteps as a writer and becomes wildly successful financially. Through divorce, career highs and sharing the love of Hopkin's daughter, they remain bonded until later in life when old rivalry and jealousies finally erupt. The DVD print is remarkably good and a fine addition to the Bette Davis Vol.2 collection. Hopkins is truly funny as the histrionic Millie, a perfect foil for the more down-to-earth Kit. Enjoy this unique collector's item---maybe with a "nice glass of flat champagne".
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "There comes a time in every woman's life when the only thing that helps is a glass of champagne." April 17 2010
By Westley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Bette Davis stars as Kit Marlowe, a writer whose first novel was just published to great acclaim. As the movie opens, Kit returns to her small hometown to visit her best friend, Millie Drake (Miriam Hopkins). Millie is a housewife and expectant mother who seems happy, but the visit from the successful Kit sets off a competitive spark in Millie. She decides to write a book herself - a sentimental romance novel of questionable quality - that becomes a best-seller. Soon, Millie is a famous and wealthy author, while Kit toils in semi-obscurity writing novels that sell few copies but that critics love. However, what Kit lacks in success, she makes up for in warmth and kindness. In fact, Millie's husband (Gig Young) and young daughter seem to prefer Kit. Oops! This situation sets into motion a rivalry that spans decades.

"Old Acquaintance" is a smoothly directed and well-acted "women's film" - the kind of movie that flourished in the 1940s. Davis and Hopkins had collaborated previously, on the superior 1939 "Old Maid." The two stars apparently had a bit of an off-screen rivalry as well, and Davis took delight in the fact that her grounded performance aged better that Hopkin's flightier acting in this film. I have to agree that Davis is far better here than Hopkins. Adapted from the successful Broadway play by John Van Druten, the movie is so easily digested that it's easy to overlook some of its flaws. Specifically, the actresses were too old to pull off some of the opening scenes depicting them in their 20s. The plot is also rather disjointed, jumping through the decades without much connective tissue. Also, for a movie about rivalry, the two leads don't really get to argue much close to the denouement, which includes a really silly, almost insulting fight. However, it's a fun romp that fans of Davis in particular are likely to enjoy.

The DVD includes a commentary track with the director, Vincent Sherman, and journalist Boze Hadleigh. It's not clear when this track was recorded, but it's pretty apparent that it was taken from an interview with Sherman (with sporadic questions from Hadleigh inserted later) as opposed to being a true commentary track, as most of the comments are about the picture more generally as opposed to the specific scenes playing. Nevertheless, it's an interesting behind-the-scenes peek that's not available for most 1940s pictures. Sherman tells a fascinating story about going out for a hamburger with Davis after the picture was completed and having the married Davis come on to him. He contemplates having an affair with Davis until a visit from her husband (Arthur Farnsworth) convinces him otherwise. Just weeks later, Farnsworth ended up dead under somewhat mysterious circumstances (an inquest ruled his death an accident). Sherman and Davis went on to work together on "Mr Skeffington" (which is a better movie than "Old Acquaintance"), but Sherman holds back the rest of the story.
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