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Five of the Best Bette Davis Movies Jezabel Five of the Best Bette Davis Movies Jezabel


Five of the Best Bette Davis Movies



One of the true giants of the golden age of Hollywood Bette Davis’s career spanned forty years, her biggest years being from the late thirties through to the early fifties.

Davis had started out in second string roles in the early thirties in films such as Three on a Match and 20,000 Years in Sing Sing before becoming Warner’s most important actress more than able to hold her own against her male counterparts including the likes of Humphrey Bogart and Errol Flynn.

Davis felt that Warners kept her down and throughout much of her career was at loggerheads with them, nevertheless they did put together some fantastic projects for us, movies that have stood the test of time and are classics today. Here are our pick of five of the best of them.

Five of the Best Bette Davis Movies Jezabel

Take Jezabel in which Bette plays a self-involved southern belle whose neurotic attempts to mould her fiancé (Henry Fonda) to her own designs eventually bring about her tragic downfall. Made in 1938 and directed by William Wyler the movie was seen as something of a pre-empter of Gone With The Wind, here Davis is at her scheming and sensual best.

Five of the Best Bette Davis Movies Marked Woman

Marked Woman is more of a minor movie from 1937, still in Warner’s gangsters vein, which they were undisputed kings of, and sees Davis co-starring with Humphrey Bogart and playing a nightclub hostess who has to testify against her mobster boss, again it’s a very intense performance from Davis.

Five of the Best Bette Davis Movies Man Who Came To Dinner

The Man Who Came To Dinner is a piece of 24 carrot gold with a brilliant performance from Monty Woolley as author Sheridan Whiteside who finds himself confined to a suburban home after an accident and is soon creating chaos, Davis here is second fiddle to Woolly as his unflappable secretary but the movie is a piece of pure joy.

Five of the Best Bette Davis Movies Old Acquaintance

Old Acquaintance (remade years later as Rich and Famous) is a classic chick flick with Davis playing author Kit Marlowe whose best friend is fellow writer Millie (Miriam Hopkins). Millie has everything that Kit wants – including her husband, the story spans 20 years as Marlowe’s life starts to unravel. It’s high quality drama that should be compulsory viewing for today’s rom-com style film-makers.

Five of the Best Bette Davis Movies Whatever Happened to Baby Jane

Whatever Happened To Baby Jane is the classic 60’s gothic horror that teamed Davis with fellow screen legend Joan Crawford for a very creepy story about an ageing former child star who lives with her invalid sister – before too long murder is in the air. Both stars are fantastic and the movie did much to revitalise their careers allowing Davis to find something of a niche late in her career.



Kick-Ass TV Heroines: Xena – Warrior Princess




Xena Warrior Princess

What was not to love about Xena? As Lucy Lawless says: “Xena is a bad-ass, kick-ass, pre-Mycenaean girl.” Evildoers, clearly, must stand down, but not only bad guys (and girls) have Xena-phobia. Even heroes quake when she swings her broadsword.

Originally created as a syndicated complement to Kevin Sorbo’s Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena pretty much kicked Herc to the curb. It was like when the Bionic Woman made us lose interest in the Six Million Dollar Man–only more so.

Unlike Lindsay Wagner’s early half-woman, half-machine, Xena wasn’t prone to frailty. Nor did she need robot parts. In fact, the Warrior Princess never lost. If she’s down, it’s not for long.

Plus, she was in touch with the dark side: This big-boned bruiser had definite moments of blood lust, as well as lust of some other varieties. Garbed in a leather miniskirt and armed with her trademark razor-edged, boomerang-action chakram, we watched Xena single-leggedly kick down entire platoons of Roman soldiers.

Sure, there were murmurings about Xena and her softer female sidekick, Gabrielle (actress Renée O’Connor). So what if they liked to conserve bathwater by doubling up? And what’s wrong with close friends frenching once in a while?

Then again, maybe it was true–and there’s anything wrong with that.

Actress: Lucy Lawless
Show: Xena: Warrior Princess
Character: Xena

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Classic TV Revisited: McMillan And Wife




McMillan And Wife

Starring Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James, McMillan and Wife was a super cute crime-solving saga from the 1970s made for the NBC’s Mystery Movie series.

Who were they?
Hubby was the debonair San Francisco police commissioner Stewart McMillan.

And wifey?
Sally was a foxy, rather scatterbrained dame with a knack for finding corpses.

Worked down the morgue did she?
Hardly. Sally’s finds were usually in some glitzy mansion which the couple were frequenting for a weekend cocktail party. She also had a habit of getting her life threatened or being kidnapped.

Who was in it?
Tragic Hollywood star Rock Hudson no less. He took on Stewart McMillan in his first TV role, after years as a matinee idol with movies such as Giant.

Fans of the lantern-jawed star were dismayed when he went public about having Aids. He had long kept his homosexuality secret. He carried on working in ’80s glam drama Dynasty, but make-up could not disguise the deterioration of this once-statuesque man. He died in 1985, aged 59.

What about Sally?
That role fell to raven-locked Susan Saint James. The Ali MacGraw lookalike was previously in shows such as Alias Smith And Jones and The Name of the Game.

Other characters
A vital ingredient to McMillan And Wife was sharp-tongued housekeeper Mildred, played by Nancy Walker. Somebody needed to keep the place tidy while they gallivanted about solving crime.

Famous guest stars?
Kim Basinger

The couple’s conception?
Like Hart To Hart, the idea was borrowed from Dashiell Hammett’s Thin Man books of the ’30s.

Gritty crime drama?
Hardly. These were cosy whodunnit cases, where the brutality of murder was never portrayed. The show was more about the interplay between McMillan and Sally.

Had viewers arrested?
Certainly in the US. It was the fifth highest-rated show in 1972 and 1973.

Fate of the golden couple?
Susan Saint James quit in 1976 over a contractual dispute. Nancy Walker also packed away her duster as housekeeper Mildred.

The dame’s exit was a fatal blow?
Certainly for the character of Sally – she was killed off in a plane crash. But Rock soldiered on with new assistant Sgt Steve DiMaggio (Richard Gilliland). The show became McMillan.

A winner?
Audiences dwindled and the plug was pulled.

Distinguishing features?
Cosy pillow talk, cocktail parties, Rock Hudson, pyjamas and numerous corpses.

Do say
Let’s go to bed. Turn the light out, darling.

Don’t say
Must you eat toast in bed, darling. Apologies, but I’ve got terrible flatulence. Separate bedrooms.

Not to be confused with
My Wife Next Door, Harold Macmillan, The Merry Wives Of Windsor and Mr And Mrs.

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Classic TV Revisited: The Royal




The Royal

The Royal was an ITV drama commission and was inspired by its sister programme Heartbeat.

The lowdown: This nostalgic family drama is set in the swinging 1960s and centres on the staff of a cottage hospital in Yorkshire. Newly qualified doctor David Cheriton (Julian Ovenden) is determined to make a difference to the world and arrives at St Aidan’s Royal Free Hospital in Elinsby full of big ideas. But he clashes with the hospital’s secretary TJ Middleditch (Ian Carmichael) who is determined to run things his way. Then there is the Matron (Wendy Craig) who rules her nurses with a rod of iron and tries in vain to stop them being distracted by the handsome arrival.

Memorable moments: Watch out for former Heartbeat favourite Bill Maynard who crosses dramas and continents as Claude Jeremiah Greengrass. Greengrass has returned from a Caribbean holiday with a mystery illness but that doesn’t stop him trying to earn a fast buck. It doesn’t take long before Claude attracts Matron’s ire.

Trivia: The Royal is a family affair for real life husband and wife Robert Daws (Ormerod) and Amy Robbins (Weatherill). No fewer than seven members of their clan have appeared in the series including their daughters and stepson.

Michelle Hardwick, who played receptionist Lizzie, says her favourite moment in the whole series didn’t come on screen but in the actors’ green room. She says: “I was sitting in there with Wendy Craig and Honor Blackman and we were having a lovely conversation. I sat back and thought ‘Wow, this is great, I can’t wait to tell my gran’.”

A modern day set version called The Royal Today aired 7 January – 14 March 2008.

First broadcast: 2003

Starred: Wendy Craig, Ian Carmichael, Michael Starke, Robert Daws and Julian Ovenden

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