Ok, we admit it. Classic Movie Chat has not given Bette Davis her just due. While we have, for example, published many blogs about Davis contemporary Deanna Durbin, our cupboard is pretty much bare when it comes to this great star.
Davis was, of course, not only a great and popular actress — her $328,477 annual salary earned in 1946 made her the highest paid woman in America — but she also launched a one-woman rebellion against the studio contract system than led to fundamental changes in the way Golden-age Hollywood did business. She asserted her independence long before the feminist movement was even heard of.
Hello, everybody. Joe Morella and Frank Segers, your classic movie guys, here to try and make amends with our first Bette Davis quiz.
The questions here are based on the actress’ autobiography, The Lonely Life, first published in 1962, and updated to just before her death at 81 in Paris on Oct. 6, 1989. Ok, here we go:
Question: Davis’ first movie appearance came in 1931 when she was in her early 20’s in Universal’s melodrama, Bad Sister, starring Conrad Nagle. Prior to this appearance, her confidence was shaken by a rude remark blurted out by a studio executive. Can you name this exec, and identify what he said? 1) Studio co-founder Mark Dintenfass, who mocked Davis’ “bad breath”; 2) studio boss Carl Laemmle, who cracked that Davis had “as much sex appeal as Slim Summerville“; or 3) studio co-founder Charles Bauman who complained of Bette’s “New England accent?”
Question: In her autobiography, Davis is discreet about most aspects of her private life, and is remarkably restrained in criticizing other performers. But she lets loose on one particular actress. Which one? 1) Joan Crawford, 2) Faye Dunaway; 3) Olivia DeHavilland or 4) Jane Fonda?
Question: One of Davis’ biggest professional regrets is that she never got to play Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind. True or false? And in what picture DID she portray a spoiled Southern Belle?
Question: Who was Davis’ favorite director (and sometime lover)? 1) Orson Welles, 2) Joseph L. Mankiewicz; 3) Michael Curtiz; or 4) William Wyler?
Question: Can you name the title of the movie, directed by Bette’s Now, Voyager costar Paul Henreid, in which she starred in the TWO leading roles: that of the mousy sister and also that of the rich, glamorous twin she murders?
Question: Despite their successful pairing in director Robert Aldrich’s 1962 drama Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?, Bette Davis could not overcome her longstanding loathing of Joan Crawford. True or false.
Question: Where did Davis’ celebrated legal battle with Warner Bros. play out, and what was it about? 1) In Hollywood over the studio’s demand that she marry Errol Flynn; 2) in England over her studio suspension after refusing several projects proffered by management; or 3) in the Bahamas over expensive beachfront property contractually obligated to be purchased for the actress.
Question: Davis was not the first choice for perhaps the most celebrated role of her career, that of Margo Channing in 1950’s All About Eve. Who was? 1) Joan Crawford; 2) Claudette Colbert, 3) Tallulah Bankhead; or 4) Loretta Young?
Question: Davis was known to be unusually blunt and outspoken by Hollywood standards, and more than occasionally abused people who worked for her, especially publicists. True or false?
Question: Who was the driving parental force in Bette’s life? Her father, Harlow Morrell Davis, or her mother, Ruth?
Question: Twentieth Century Fox tried to coerce Davis into starring in a sequel to All About Eve, which prompted a legal response from the actress, who was adamantly opposed. True or false?
Ok, mark down your choices and stay tuned. Answers coming shortly.