Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


BETTE DAVIS: LARGER THAN LIFE. Richard Schickel and George Perry. Running Press; 2009.

A huge, beautiful, photo-packed biography-study of Bette Davis, her films, and continuing appeal. The book is actually written by George Perry; Schickel just wrote the introduction. This is by no means essential for any but the Davis fanatic, but it is generally a good read, although there isn't that much new to say about Davis, especially after such solid bios as Fasten Your Seat Belts: The Passionate Life of Bette Davis by Lawrence J. Quirk. [Oddly the book isn't listed in the bibliography, even though it was one of the major bios on the star, and some of the info in that book seems to have made its way into this one.] There are some amusing things in Larger Than Life, the foremost being how Schickel and Perry disagree on the notorious Beyond the Forest [the former loves it; the latter hates it]. My own opinion of the picture is that -- while I understand why some people can't stand it -- it's a pip! There's an unintentionally funny sentence in the book when Perry writes about how Davis gives "an excellent impersonation of the Crawford tones when she poses as her on the telephone" in Baby Jane when it's actually pretty obvious that Crawford dubbed those lines for Davis. In another funny bit concerning The Anniversary Perry writes that one character is "a closet gay who steals women's underwear from clothes lines." The character is actually a closet transvestite [most gay men have absolutely no desire to dress up as women]. Throughout the book there are "sidebars" on important co-stars and directors and the like.

Verdict: Not the best about Bette but certainly not bad. Beautiful production job. **1/2.

No comments: