The Bette Davis Collection, Vol. 3


The Old Maid (1939)      All This and Heaven Too (1940)     The Great Lie (1941)


In This Our Life (1942)      Watch on the Rhine (1943)      Deception (1946)

 


Titles

 

 


 

The Old Maid (1939): Bette Davis was fresh from the successes of Juarez (1939), Dark Victory (1939) and her Oscar-winning Jezebel (1938). The director, Edmund Goulding, had already guided her through two films (and would work with her again on The Great Lie in 1941). Jane Bryan, playing her daughter, had previously costarred with Davis in three films; the actresses were to remain lifelong friends.

***

The Old Maid was one of the great films--a financial and critical success--in a very impressive year in film history. So much so that Davis and Hopkins were given a rematch at Warner Brothers, as battling authors in Old Acquaintance (1943).

Excerpt from Turner Classic Movies located HERE

 

All This and Heaven Too (1940): Davis in relatively subdued form as a governess accused of having an affair with a married nobleman (Boyer) in 19th century France, and of aiding and abetting in the murder of his neurotically jealous wife (O'Neil). Telling her innocent story in flashback to a class of American schoolchildren who have recognised her as a notorious woman, she is eventually rewarded by their sympathy and understanding. Adapted from a bestseller by Rachel Field, it's a pretty long, gloomy haul, though lavishly mounted (with photography by Ernest Haller) and sensitively acted.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE 

 

The Great Lie (1941): Sudsy melo as George Brent divorces concert pianist Astor, marries Davis, and then leaves a metaphorical Amazon jungle for the real one, where he apparently dies in a plane crash. Meanwhile, back in the big smoke, Astor discovers that she's pregnant and Davis wants to adopt the baby as a souvenir of her darling hubby. The leading ladies blast away at each other like pocket battleships, while Max Steiner and Tchaikovsky provide a sumptuous musical background.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE


In This Our Life (1942): Bette Davis steals her sister's husband and ruins her life in this out-of-control family melodrama. 'No one is as good as Bette when she's bad,' claimed the publicity, and she's bad in this all right. John Huston (whose second film this was) wrote that 'there is a demon within Bette which threatens to break out and eat everybody, beginning with their ears. I let the demon go'. In the roadhouse sequence, the sharp-eyed will spot most of the cast from Huston's first picture, The Maltese Falcon, including Bogart, Astor, Greenstreet, Lorre, and the director's father, Walter.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE 

 

Watch on the Rhine (1943): Warner Bros. had led Hollywood in criticizing fascism before the start of World War II with pictures like Confession of a Nazi Spy (1939). Once the U.S. entered the war, they supported the war effort with a series of films about the Nazi menace, including All Through the Night (1942), Desperate Journey (1942) and this adaptation of Lillian Hellman's daring 1939 play. In fact, Warner's seemed the only studio capable of doing justice to her condemnation of fascism, written at a time when many in the U.S. still supported Hitler's government.

Excerpt from Turner Classic Movies located HERE 

 

Deception (1946): Four years after Now Voyager, Deception resurrects the same team for another grand emotional wallow - the 'woman's picture' at its historical zenith. Here, though, the passions are even more overblown, with Rains, excellent as a mad, bad composer, exerting a Svengali-like influence over Davis, his duplicitous pupil, and Henreid, as the master cellist who needs Rains' new composition to make his reputation but needs Davis even more. As she lies her way out of Rains' clutches and into marriage with Henreid, so the effects of her 'deceptions' become more corrosive. Blazing histrionics in the concert hall, crime passionel in the salon, and outside on the streets of Manhattan it's always raining.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Releases: Various from 1939 - 1946

  DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Warner Home Video - Region 1, 2, 3, 4 - NTSC

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution Warner Home Video - Region 1, 2, 3, 4 - NTSC
Time: over 10 hrs. total on six discs
Audio English (original mono)
Subtitles English (CC), French, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Warner Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
All Original Aspect Ratios - 1.33 

Edition Details:

The Old Maid (1939) - 1:34:33 Dual-layered
• Vintage newsreel
• Technicolor historical short: Lincoln in the White House (20:51)
• Howard Hill sports short: Sword Fishing (9:47)
• Classic cartoons: The Film Fan and Kristopher Kolumbus (7:30)
• Trailers of The Old Maid and 1939's Confessions of a Spy

All This and Heaven Too (1940) - 2:23:10
Dual-layered
• Commentary by The Women of Warner Bros. author Daniel Bubbeo
• Vintage newsreel (1:12)
• Technicolor patriotic short: Meet the Fleet (20:18)
• Classic cartoons: Hollywood Daffy  (7:03) and Porky's Last Stand (6:36)
• Trailers of All This, and Heaven Too (3:35) and 1940's Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet (2:02)
• Audio-only bonus: Radio show adaptation with the film's stars (52:38)

The Great Lie (1941) - 1:47:28 Dual-layered
• Vintage newsreel (3:23)
• Broadway Brevities short: At the Stroke of Twelve (20:38)
• Oscar-nominated Technicolor Sports Parade short: Kings of the Turf (9:43)
• Hollywood Novelty short: Polo with the Stars (9:12)
• Classic cartoon: Porky's Pooch (7:06)
• Trailers of The Great Lie and 1941's The Strawberry Blonde (3:07)

In This Our Life (1942) - 1:36:42
Dual-layered
• Commentary by film historian Jeannine Basinger
• Vintage newsreel (7:14)
• Technicolor patriotic short: March On, America! (20:35)
• Technicolor musical short: Spanish Fiesta (18:53)
• Classic cartoon: Who's Who in the Zoo (7:08)
• Trailers of In This Our Life (2:41) and 1942's Desperate Journey (2:59)

Watch on the Rhine (1943) - 1:51:49
Dual-layered
• Commentary by film historian Bernard F. Dick

• Vintage newsreel (1:34)
• Musical short: Ozzie Nelson and His Orchestra (9:22)
• Classic cartoon: The Wise Quacking Duck (6:29)
• Trailers of Watch on the Rhine (2:12) and 1943's Mission to Moscow (2:12)

Deception (1946)
1:51:52 Dual-layered
• Commentary by film historian Foster Hirsch
• Vintage newsreel (2:28)
• Oscar-winning Technicolor Sports Parade Short: Facing Your Danger (10:05)
• Technicolor Specials Short: Movieland Magic (16:27)
• Classic cartoon: Mouse Menace (7:00)
• Trailers of Deception (2:28) and 1946's A Stolen Life (2:09)


DVD Release Date: April 1st, 2008

6 standard keep cases inside a cardboard box
Chapters:

The Old Maid - 23
All This and Heaven Too - 37
The Great Lie - 28
In This Our Life - 27
Watch on the Rhine - 27
Deception - 26

 

Comments:

This is Warner's third Bette Davis DVD collection - Vol. 1 (reviewed HERE) had The Star, Mr. Skeffington, Dark Victory, Now, Voyager and The Letter. Vol. 2 (reviewed HERE) also had five films (plus a bonus disc) - Marked Woman, Jezebel, The Man Who Came to Dinner, Old Acquaintance and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?. Volume 3, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Bette Davis' birth, has 6 films; The Old Maid (1939), All This and Heaven Too (1940), The Great Lie (1941), In This Our Life (1942) Watch on the Rhine (1943) and Deception (1946).

NOTE: The 6 main features of this boxset are housed in individual keep cases (see images above and below) and but are NOT sold separately at this time although I suspect they will eventually. I still consider the price for the package extremely reasonable for what you are getting. Unlike, say Warner's Gangsters 3 - that saw a debatable quality decrease in the film value factor, compared to the first 2 in the series - I don't believe this does to the same degree. These are all quite strong works as good as most of the films in Vol. 1 and 2.

Technical specifications of the discs: All six are coded for regions 1,2,3, and 4 in the NTSC standard and all six discs are dual-layered and progressively transferred. Each have original English audio and options for English (CC), or French subtitles (no Spanish) in an off-white font with black border. Four of the six films, All This and Heaven Too (1940), In This Our Life (1942), Watch on the Rhine (1943) and Deception (1946), are supplemented by an optional, expert, audio commentary and each have a Warner Night at the Movies section which includes a newsreel, a short, a cartoon, and various trailers. These can be watched in order ('Play All' option) - followed directly by the film - kind of simulating an original vintage theatrical viewing with those shorter 'B' supplements preceding the main feature. I endorse the concept and this manner of viewing - it's very nostalgic and great to set the mood.  

Image: Fairly consistent with age being the only determination of differential weaknesses. The Old Maid, the oldest film, might marginally be considered to have the weakest image where The Great Lie and Deception have deeper black levels and a shade more detail. After the first film the gap in difference is not overly great in my opinion. All exhibit noise to varyingly minor degrees but I'm very happy to state that all six features seem to have exceeded my expectations. Warner's patented restoration process has given these films a wonderful, watchable appearance. Speckles and light scratches are minimal - the bulk successfully removed. There are no surprises - these DVDs look and sound as good as previous Warner offerings from the same era. I don't expect that any fans will be unhappy with the quality of the image. The screen grabs below were chosen specifically to highlight some weaknesses (noise and faint contrast) and also strength (detail and black levels). With age as a consideration these dual-layered transfers look quite marvelous.

Audio - All original (monaural) and are as comparative to the image quality. Dialogue was always clear and consistent. Warner can boast strength in this area - they rarely issue DVDs with substantial audio deficiencies. I noted no excessive gaps, pops or hisses just remember how old these films are and they never sounded like our current state-of-the-art to begin with. The dialogue is supported by subtitles (English CC and French) in a clean, readable font. 

Extras - Aside from the previously mentioned 'Warner Night at the Movies' section and some theatrical trailers for the feature film, outside of that group - the most in-depth supplements belong to the four optional commentaries. All This and Heaven Too has Daniel Bubbeo (author of The Women of Warner Brothers: The Lives and Careers of 15 Leading Ladies, With Filmographies for Each). I don't recall ever hearing from him before and I enjoyed the commentary. Obviously he is an expert but being able to impart information in a timely manner (not just sound like reading a prepared script) is another skill of its own - and he passed the test. He initially describes All This and Heaven Too as Warner's response to Gone With the Wind with the production more comfortable with spending than in other pragmatic movies from that studio. He has a lot to say about Davis and I believe it is very much worth listening to. In This Our Life (1942) has a commentary by film historian Jeannine Basinger whom I always enjoy. She has a great voice to convey knowledge and is always prepared. I haven't started Bernard F. Dick's (author of many books including Radical Innocence: A Critical Study of the Hollywood Ten) commentary on Watch on the Rhine but I enjoyed the film. I'll post comments once I have given it a listen.  Deception, with some debatable Noir overtones, has film historian Foster Hirsch (author of The Dark Side of the Screen: Film Noir and Detours and Lost Highways: A Map of Neo-Noir) giving soliloquies. Recently he did an excellent commentary on Daisy Kenyon and this doesn't lag far behind. Thumbs up to the three I heard!

This Warner Night at the Movies section is a new thing to have them segregated like this and seems to make sense for those keen would likely view all... and those uninterested wouldn't venture into that area anyway. I've listed the menu screens for them below and details of each section above. 

Overall impression: What's not to like? Personally, I enjoyed her over-the-top style in In This Our Life but also the, kind of unusual, Deception. All This and Heaven Too, The Great Lie and Watch on the Rhine are also quite marvelous. I'm very keen to view with the Warner Night at the Movies option and wish I could seem them all again 9at a slower pace - I rifled through them). They are definitely films I will revisit and show to friends. Despite her off-camera battles Bette Davis was a true screen star and her abilities are showcased her extremely well with varying performance roles. Classic Hollywood seems alive and well and this boxset gets our endorsement. Enjoy!         

Gary W. Tooze



DVD Menus


 


 

Keep Case Cover

 

 

 

Directed by Edmund Goulding

Starring - Bette Davis, Miriam Hopkins, George Brent and Donald Crisp

 

Screen Captures

 

 


Keep Case Cover

 

 

 

Directed by Anatole Litvak

Starring - Bette Davis, Charles Boyer, Jeffrey Lynn and Barbara O'Neil

 

Screen Captures

 

 

 


Keep Case Cover

 

 

Directed by Edmund Goulding


Starring - Bette Davis, George Brent, Mary Astor, Lucile Watson and Hattie McDaniel

 

Screen Captures

 

 


Keep Case Cover

 

 

 

Directed by John Huston

Starring - Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, George Brent, Dennis Morgan and Charles Coburn 

 

Screen Captures

 

 


Keep Case Cover

 

 

 

Directed by Herman Shumlin and Hal Mohr (uncredited)


Starring Bette Davis, Paul Lukas, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Lucile Watson and Beulah Bondi

 

Screen Captures

 

 

 


Keep Case Cover

 

 

 

Directed by Irving Rapper

Starring Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, John Abbott and Benson Fong

 

Screen Captures

 

 

 


 

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution Warner Home Video - Region 1, 2, 3, 4 - NTSC




 

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