The Bette Davis Collection (20TH Century Fox)

Video and DVD

The Bette Davis Collection

1950-1965, Unrated

The Bette Davis Collection opens with a two-disc Cinema Classics Collection edition of All About Eve that catches the legend at the height of her screen divahood. Writer/director Joseph Mankiewicz's film earned a record-breaking 14 Academy Award nominations in 1950 (it won six Oscars), but in the end it's all about Davis as the iconic aging stage actress Margo Channing. She was not a great beauty, but she displays a supreme confidence that disarms and challenges those opposite her and the audience. Of course, the collection moves right along with Phone Call from a Stranger, the 1952 drama that re-teams her with Eve co-star Gary Merrill, yet twists audience expectations by placing Davis in a supporting role. She's back at the center of things in 1955's The Virgin Queen, and back in the role of Queen Elizabeth I, which she played 16 years earlier in The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex. Watching her take on the monarch will certainly inspire audiences to compare the twice-nominated Cate Blanchett to Davis' standard-bearing turn here. The final efforts in this collection — Hush ... Hush, Sweet Charlotte and The Nanny — bear the unmistakable mark of the mid-1960s swing toward thrillers that bordered on horror (in many ways the precursor to the horror B-movies of the late 1970s and early 1980s), but the fascinating aspect of each is watching Davis, the renowned actress of her day, bringing her big, broad style to the genre like the consummate professional she was.

Grade: A

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