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.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Bette and Bette share a stolen life

A STOLEN LIFE comes at the end of Bette Davis's great run of hits in the 1940s. This 1946 romantic drama though seems under-appreciated and hardly seen now. (I also like her DECEPTION that year and JUNE BRIDE in 1948, as she came to the end of her Warner years). Warners do her proud here, dressed by Orry-Kelly, music by Max Steiner, directed by Curtis Bernhardt, with Walter Brennan and Charlie Ruggles in support. 

The fascinating thing about A STOLEN LIFE is that Bette play identical twin sisters - nice Kate who paints, and more vivacious go-getting Patricia. Set in New England near Cape Cod, Kate arrives and meets nice guy Glenn Ford (GILDA was his next one after this - see recent review, Ford label) and the film takes its time setting the scene as they get close as we savour those New England lighthouses and boats .... the other sister does not appear until over 20 minutes in and the special effects are simply marvellous, for the 1940s - we really  believe she is two different sisters in the same scenes (just like Tom Hardy as the Krays now in LEGEND). Patricia of course makes a play for Glenn and gets him as gentle Kate backs off and won't fight for him. Pat and Glenn marry and while he is away the sisters go sailing and hit a storm. Pat is washed overboard and drowned and when Kate is rescued from the capsized boat everyone thinks she is Pat and she goes along with the deception .... when Glenn returns will he think she is Pat too? Can Kate go on with the deception?, will Glenn realise which sister he is now living (or sleeping) with? - it does not quite come to that as things are not as they seem for Kate (now Pat) - Pat and Glenn were on the rocks due to her infidelities and he wants a divorce as it was Kate he really loved all along before being dazzled by the shallower Pat; then at their house which is her bedroom, will her maid suspect, and Pat's dog does not recognise her ... kindly uncle Charlie does know though ... how is Kate going to resolve things?

This must have been just the stuff for mid-40s audiences coming out of the war years. It captures that 1940 dreamworld perfectly - roomy comfy houses with real fires, discreet servants in the background. Its almost as marvellous as Bette's NOW VOYAGER, THE GREAT LIE, OLD ACQUAINTANCE - those favourites we like here at The Projector.
Bette of course returned to playing sisters in the 1964 DEAD RINGER, (right) that delirious farrago we love - that was a souped-up Trash Classic. A STOLEN LIFE is a much classier affair. Bette and Glenn were re-teamed in Capra's 1961 sentimental POCKETFUL OF MIRACLES - where Glenn was the star and Bette doing a cameo small part, but then BABY JANE came along the next year ...


  1. As I said, I haven't seen it so I couldn't possibly comment! It's hardly considered one of her classics though.

  2. Oh but it is Blanche it is. If you haven't seen it how can you say .......

  3. Jane, you wouldn't say those awful things to me if I wasn't in a wheelchair...oh, but I'm not! BITCHSLAP! It is hard to see though!