Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Bette, dressed by Orry

Bette Davis's 3 films with William Wyler are undoubted classics (JEZEBEL, THE LETTER, THE LITTLE FOXES) where she was dressed by Orry-Kelly (see post below), but perhaps NOW VOYAGER in 1942 is her most perfect role (along with DARK VICTORY) where her repressed mother-dominated frumpy spinster Charlotte Vale is transformed into a soigne, sleek woman of the world due to Claude Rains psychiatrist ..... Bette is helped immeasurably here by Orry-Kelly again who designed a perfect wardrobe for her .... looking at the film again the clothes seem not to have dated at all.  (See Bette-1 label for feature I did on this 5 years ago..) 
As Bette herself said in a 1965 "Films and Filming" interview: "I was terribly fortunate only in one thing that in my personal taste I never was one to go in for the “present style” in clothes. I wear basically the same kind of clothes today on the screen and off as when I played a modern part back then. That is really what has hit many of the films, when a woman wore all the mad clothes and they really are ridiculous. It’s because I always basically wore what we call classic clothes today - all the wardrobe for DARK VICTORY you could wear today, with the possible exception of an inch or two in the skirt. I never wore padded shoulders and I very seldom wore hats and I never had crazy hairdos. And that really is what hurt the old films the most.”
I particularly like Bette's THE GREAT LIE (with Mary Astor) and OLD ACQUAINTANCE (with Miriam Hopkins) as my favourite '40s movies of hers - and its another look at her two sisters in the 1946 A STOLEN LIFE (with Glenn Ford - see below) coming up soon.  


  1. My only comment here since Bette is to the fore is that I watched THE ANNIVERSARY again the other night. I can't believe I ever rated this film; it was beyond dreadful!

  2. I saw the stage version in 1966 where Mona Washbourne played the mother with a lot of humour, most of the cast reprised their roles in the awful film, apart from Michael Crawford who played the youngest son. I was taken backstage by a friend and they all signed my programme. Sheila Hancock later played the mother herself in a revival about a decade ago. Hammer decided to let Bette go over the top and chomp the scenery for the film ...

  3. The play could only have been better. I wonder what Bette thought of it!