The Bette Davis Centenary Celebration Collection


All About Eve (1950)      Phone Call from a Stranger (1952)      The Virgin Queen (1955)

The Nanny (1965)      Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964)

 


Titles

 

 


 

All About Eve (1950)  - In 1950, the movies recognised stardom as a pathological disorder. Exhibit A was ‘Sunset Blvd’, exhibit B ‘All About Eve’. Set in the Broadway jungle rather than among the ‘sun-burnt eager beavers’ of Hollywood, Joseph L Mankiewicz’s film dissects the narcissism and hypocrisy of the spotlight as sharply as Wilder’s, but pays equal attention to the challenges of enacting womanhood. ‘All About My Mother’ (not to mention ‘Showgirls’) would be unimaginable without it. Anne Baxter is Eve Harrington, the wide-eyed stage-door hanger-on who insinuates her way into the world of Bette Davis’ sacred monster, Margo Channing; butter-might-just-melt meets gin-hold-the-tonic. The fan who makes an audience of the stars, Eve is soon attracting her own admirers, as well as barbs worthy of Mankiewicz’s ’30s newsroom pedigree. Edith Head’s costumes stress the antagonism: Eve enters in a sexy-modest trenchcoat-and-trilby combo, and could anyone but Davis pull off a ball gown with pockets? Meanwhile, the real threat – Marilyn Monroe – sits at the party’s edge, shining, angling for another drink.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE  

 

Phone Call from a Stranger (1952) - A decent, but hardly outstanding dramatic compendium. Having survived an air crash, Merrill visits the bereaved families of three of the fellow passengers with whom he had become friendly during the fateful flight. Davis, then Merrill's husband, appears in a subordinate role as Wynn's bedridden spouse, and moves things up a gear or two. Written and produced by Nunnally Johnson.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

 

The Virgin Queen (1955) - Bette Davis takes on the role of Queen Elizabeth I for a second time - 16 years after the successful The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex. Richard Todd plays Sir Walter Raleigh, the love interest while Joan Collins via's for his affections. Standard fare for a Hollywood historical drama but Davis is always a treat to see.

Gary W. Tooze
 

The Nanny (1965) - A spirited pot-boiler from the almost forgotten ex-editor Seth Holt (his Station Six Sahara is a stunner that deserves revival), with Davis as Nanny to a houseful of neurotics. In particular, there is a 10-year-old boy (Dix), just released from a psychiatric hospital, who believes Davis wants to murder him. Made for Hammer Films (with whom Davis subsequently starred in The Anniversary), it capitalises on the star's performance in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?; and while no one will have any trouble figuring out what's going on, Holt's atmospheric direction and Davis' performance keep one thoroughly hooked.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

    

Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964) - Robert Aldrich followed up the commercial success of his What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? with this 1964 feature, an even more outrageous exercise in Hollywood necrophilia. It was camp before the term was coined, but it's somewhat better than that, too.

Posters

Theatrical Releases: Various from 1950 - 1964

  DVD Reviews

DVD Review: 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC
Time: over 8 hrs. of feature films total on five discs
Audio English (original)
Subtitles English (CC), Spanish, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: 20th Century Fox

Aspect Ratio:
All Original Aspect Ratios - <various> 

Edition Details:

All About Eve

• Audio Commentary by Celeste Holm, Ken Geist - Author/Film Biographer; Christopher Mankiewicz (Director's Son)
• Audio Commentary by Sam Staggs - Author/Film Historian
• Isolated Audio Track - Musical Score
Disc 2: ALL ABOUT EVE - Supplemental Material
• Additional Footage - "MovieTone News: 1951 Academy Awards Honor Best Film
• Achievements, 1951 Hollywood Attends Gala Premiere of "All About Eve," Holiday Magazine Awards, Look Magazine Awards"
• Behind the Scenes -
• "AMC Backstory: ALL ABOUT EVE"
• Restoration Comparison
Documentaries -
•  "Joseph L. Mankiewicz: A Personal Journey"
•  "The Real Eve"
Featurettes -
•  "Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz"
• "The Secret of Sarah Siddons" 

 

Phone Call From a Stranger

• Restoration Comparison

• Trailers

 

The Virgin Queen

• Isolated Score option

• Featurette: Virgin Territory: The Making of the Virgin Queen (28:23)

• Restoration Comparison

• Trailer

• TV Spots

• 4 different galleries (Pressbook, Poster, Stills and Lobby Cards)

 

The Nanny

• Restoration Comparison

• Trailer

• TV Spots

• 4 different galleries (Pressbook, Poster, Stills and Lobby Cards)

 

Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte

• Isolated Score track

• Featurette: Hush,. Hush Sweet Joan: The Making of Charlotte

• Bruce Dern Remembers

• Vintage Promotional short narrated by Joseph Cotten

• Theatrical trailers and TV Spots

• Galleries


DVD Release Date: April 8th, 2008

5 slim black keep cases inside a cardboard box

 

Comments:

Well, I'll apologize first - I've turned my house upside down but can't find my All About Eve Studio Classics edition to compare to this new 2-disc Cinema Classics release. I suspect it would have filled some gaps in my summation, but we'll do the best we can with what we have.

NOTE: The 5 main features (6 discs) of this boxset are housed in individual slim keep cases (see images above and below) and are also sold separately although a substantial savings (in the neighborhood of double) can be accrued by purchasing The Bette Davis Centenary Celebration Collection package as opposed to individually.

Technical specifications of the discs: All six DVDs are coded for regions 1 in the NTSC standard and the five feature films are dual-layered and progressively transferred. The widescreen features are anamorphic. Each have original English audio and options for English (CC), or Spanish subtitles in a yellow font (for the black and white films) and white with a black border for The Virgin Queen (the only color film). Each film is supplemented by different extra features (listed above).

Image: The aberration here is, obviously, Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte being moved from 1.66 (original Studio Classics DVD) to 1.85:1 and having some, unnecessary, brightness boosting. I, personally, feel it is a step back (see full comparison HERE). From memory, All About Eve looks about the same as the older edition - not especially sharp but decent contrast levels. I wouldn't say it's a vast improvement anyway. The Virgin Queen shows superiority over the, corresponding, Region 2 - PAL release (see full comparison HERE), and although I don't own it, I expect the same for the PAL The Nanny as this new transfer looks quite strong with excellent detail. Lastly, we come to a Shelly Winters film, Phone Call from a Stranger, an odd inclusion into this set, with Davis in a more minor onscreen role later in the film. Regardless, I like this noirish film and it has a very strong visual appearance - very good detail. The screen captures below should give you a good idea of how these discs will look. 

Audio - All original (to my knowledge) with the The Virgin Queen having a 4.0 channel and Hush... Hush, offering both 2.0 and mono - dialogue was always clear and consistent. I noted no excessive gaps, pops or hisses and there are optional English or Spanish subtitles for each production. 

Extras - Aside from the plethora on the 2-disc All About Eve with 2 (count'em 2!) separate commentaries (I only sampled and both appeared informative) and mucho featurettes for that 'star attraction' film, each have some minor fluff including restoration comparisons (that show me VERY little, to be honest), isolated score tracks, trailers, TV Spots, galleries - i.e pressbook, poster, stills and lobby Cards - and such things as a vintage promotional short narrated by Joseph Cotten (?!?!). There are decent, if short featurettes on (Hush,. Hush Sweet Joan: The Making of Charlotte) and a longer one on The Virgin Queen (Virgin Territory: The Making of the Virgin Queen) plus 'Dern Remembers' but overall I'd prefer one decent commentary on each film and I especially like, and perhaps feel spoiled by, the Warner Night at the Movies style on The Bette Davis Collection, Vol. 3. I encourage Fox to adapt similar or perhaps spread the supplements a little more uniformly. I know I should be happier than I am as it's great to have this package with all the frills, but I am just a little under-whelmed. 

Overall impression: As they are released so close together a comparison with The Bette Davis Collection, Vol. 3 seems appropriate and I enjoyed the films, presentations and supplements more in the Warner's release than this Fox package. Tack onto that - 4 of the 5 here have been on DVD previously, albeit 2 of which on PAL, with no dramatically huge image improvements. I'm kind of chuffed to have Phone Call from a Stranger on DVD though. Some may wish to get that and The Nanny depending on how keen they might be... although dollar-wise it's like the 'Value-Meal' getting the whole package and the stuff you may not be desperate to possess for only pennies more. If I sound overly negative I shouldn't - this boxset will make Davis fans very happy - nice vintage art covers and menus to boot.          

Gary W. Tooze



DVD Menus


 

Some of the Supplements

 


 

Keep Case Cover

 

Also sold individually:

 

 

Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Starring Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders, Celeste Holm, Gary Merrill, Hugh Marlowe, Marilyn Monroe and Thelma Ritter

 

 

Screen Captures

 

 


Keep Case Cover

 

Also sold individually:

 

 

Directed by Jean Negulesco

Starring Shelley Winters, Gary Merrill, Michael Rennie, Keenan Wynn, Evelyn Varden, Warren Stevens and Bette Davis

 

 

Screen Captures

 

 

 


Keep Case Cover

 

Also sold individually:

 

 

Directed by Henry Koster

Starring Bette Davis, Richard Todd, Joan Collins, Jay Robinson, Herbert Marshall and Dan O'Herlihy

 

 

Screen Captures

 

(20th Century Fox - Region 2,4 - PAL TOP vs. 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


 (20th Century Fox - Region 2,4 - PAL TOP vs. 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 

 


Keep Case Cover

 

Also sold individually:

 

Directed by Seth Holt

Starring Bette Davis, Wendy Craig, Jill Bennett, James Villiers and William Dix

 

 

Screen Captures

 

 


Keep Case Cover

 

Also sold individually:

 

 

Directed by Robert Aldrich

Starring Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, Joseph Cotten, Agnes Moorehead, Cecil Kellaway, Victor Buono and Mary Astor

 

Screen Captures

 

 


(20th Century Fox - 'Studio Classics #32' - Region 1- NTSC TOP vs. 20th Century Fox 'Cinema Classics Collection' - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


(20th Century Fox - 'Studio Classics #32' - Region 1- NTSC TOP vs. 20th Century Fox 'Cinema Classics Collection' - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 


 

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC




 

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Gary Tooze

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