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, 10 April 2016

Bette Davis classics: Old Acquaintance, 1943

Do camp classics get any camper than OLD ACQUAINTANCE? Do ‘Bette Davis Classics’ get any Bette-ier than OLD ACQUAINTANCE? Probably NOW  VOYAGER or THE GREAT LIE … or JEZEBEL or THE LETTER for dramatics – but however you view it OLD ACQUAINTANCE is sheer perfection, turned out in 1943 during WWII, with the men away at war, it remains the perfect “woman’s picture”. Here is my previous review:

Bette is brittle and amusing in Vincent Sherman's OLD ACQUAINTANCE (1943) from John Van Druten's play. I love that '40s ambience of the New York literary high life, Bette's apartment, her devoted housekeeper, her sending away the man she loves as "a woman just does not do that and live with herself" if she took her best friend's husband - and the older Bette with that streak in her hair, rescuing Deirdre from that lothario's apartment, and that young Gig Young (with his little moustache) whom she turns over to Deirdre (Dolores Moran), nobly giving up a man she loves a second time .... its all just too too.

Jealous of best friend Kit, a critically acclaimed but financially unsuccessful author and playwright, Millie writes a novel, the first in a string of bestselling trashy novels. After eight years of neglect and taking a backseat to Millie's fame, her husband Preston leaves her. Another decade passes and Kit announces her intention of marrying the decade-younger Rudd. Millie thinks Preston wishes to reconcile, only to discover he is engaged. He also admits that he was in love with Kit, who had turned down his many advances. Feeling Kit to blame for the failure of her marriage, Millie flies into a rage and confronts Kit. Later, learning of Rudd's affection for Millie's daughter Diedre, Kit graciously steps aside to bless their union. In the end, Millie and Kit make up, sharing a champagne toast for each one's old acquaintance.
Bette's rival here of course is Miriam Hopkins (her THE OLD MAID co-star) flouncing around as the trashy novelist whereas Bette's Kit Marlowe is the intellectual one while Miriam turns out one bestseller after another. That New York during wartime in the early '40s is nicely depicted too. And there is of course the famous scene where Bette finally has enough of Miriam's histrionics and returns to the room, puts down her package and advances on Miriam to give her a good shaking. Finally the two women toast each other with that flat champagne .... the women and the gays must have loved it at the time, and ever since.  

PS: It was good to acquire this TCM Classics pack (Region 1) of 4 Bette titles, one of their many 4-packs - I have the individual films which I can now pass on, as the one pack frees up more space, the disks have the extra features too which were on the individually packed films 


  1. I love OLD ACQUAINTANCE. Perhaps when I get my multi-region blu-ray player I will treat myself to this boxset. I don't have JEZEBEL either.

  2. Much as I love Miriam in the role and the film is acres of fun I've always been intrigued by the idea of Bette's first choice for Millie, Norma Shearer.

    Norma was on the verge of retirement when she was offered the part and unfortunately turned it down. If only she had taken and then bowed out so she could have closed out her career on a much higher note than the clunky and dated Her Cardboard Lover.

  3. I think Norma would have been a great foil for Bette though Miriam is a treat, too.