Bette Davis Spotlighted on TCM in November

When you find out Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is spotlighting la grand dame of movies as their Star of the Month in November, you know you have a lot to be thankful for. Few actors can help you take your mind off your troubles more effortlessly than Bette Davis and few could be as bitchy doing it. Bette Davis was a gem. I invite you let me know what your favorite Bette Davis movies are as you watch them on TCM. I’m @CitizenScreen on Twitter, Citizen Screen on Facebook, or simply leave a comment down below.

The TCM Bette Davis month-long festival begins on Tuesday, November 5 with films starring Davis from the 1930s. Each week features a different time period of her career through the 1960s. I’m particularly excited about the Davis films I’ve yet to see like William Dieterle’s Fog Over Frisco (1934) and Bretaigne Windust’s June Bride (1948), but the month is replete with Davis standards everyone must see. To me this is a perfect opportunity to turn people into classics fans. Bette Davis has the kind of presence that makes it impossible to ever forget her.

“That’s me: an old kazoo with some sparklers”

I should mention that William Wyler’s The Letter, one of my favorite Bette Davis films will not air as part of the November festival. It will be featured on TCM in December instead. During this festival, however, you will be treated to such enduring classics as Jezebel, Dark Victory, All About Eve and cult favorites like What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? in addition to many less known features plus a few surprises. As you plan for family gatherings, include a Bette Davis movie or two or three. They’ll bring you closer together.


There are a few other interesting festivals on TCM in November: Wednesdays will feature movies celebrating the 100th anniversary of the American Society of Cinematographers, Dennis Miller and Friends offers an eclectic array of films from various eras, and daily spotlights include the films of the great John Ford, to name a few happenings. It will be a busy month for movie fans. Have fun.

Quotable Davis:

Bette Davis remains one of the most quotable Hollywood figures in history. At least by my estimation and with good reason as you’ll see. I can’t resist her and offer some of my favorite Davis quotes about life, the film industry, Hollywood players, acting and Bette Davis. This should hold you over from Tuesday to Tuesday during her Star of the Month tribute.

  • I’d marry again if I found a man who had fifteen million dollars, would sign over half to me, and guarantee that he’d be dead within a year.
  • Old age is no place for sissies.
  • Everybody has a heart. Except some people.
  • I was a person who couldn’t make divorce work. For me, there’s nothing lonelier than a turned-down toilet seat
  • I’m the nicest goddamn dame that ever lived.
  • With the newspaper strike on, I wouldn’t consider dying.
  • I am just too much.
  • From the moment I was six I felt sexy. And let me tell you it was hell, sheer hell, waiting to do something about it.
  • [referring to her parents’ divorce when she was 7] Of course I replaced my father. I became my own father and everyone else’s.
  • [on Greta Garbo] Oh, Garbo was divine. Soooo beautiful. I worshipped her. When I became a star, I used to have my chauffeur follow her in my car. I always wanted to meet her.
  • Acting should be bigger than life. Scripts should be bigger than life. It should all be bigger than life.
  • I never did pal around with actresses. Their talk usually bored me to tears.
  • There was more good acting at Hollywood parties than ever appeared on the screen.
  • Hollywood always wanted me to be pretty, but I fought for realism.
  • In this business, until you’re known as a monster you’re not a star.
  • Today everyone is a star – they’re all billed as ‘starring’ or ‘also starring’. In my day, we earned that recognition.
  • [about Katharine Hepburn‘s tie for the 1968 Oscar with Barbra Streisand] I wanted to be the first to win three Oscars, but Miss Hepburn has done it. Actually it hasn’t been done. Miss Hepburn only won half an Oscar. If they’d given me half an Oscar I would have thrown it back in their faces. You see, I’m an Aries. I never lose.
  • My favorite person to work with was Claude Rains.
  • [on John Wayne] I certainly would have given anything to have worked with John Wayne. He’s the most attractive man who ever walked the earth, I think.
  • [on Errol Flynn] He was just beautiful . . . Errol. He himself openly said, “I don’t know really anything about acting,” and I admire his honesty because he’s absolutely right.
Davis’ most memorable quotes pertained to Joan Crawford with whom she shared a legendary rivalry.
  • [on working with Joan Crawford in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)] We were polite to each other – all the social amenities, ‘Good morning, Joan’ and ‘Good Morning, Bette’ crap – and thank God we weren’t playing roles where we had to like each other. But people forget that our big scenes were alone – just the camera was on me or her. No actresses on earth are as different as we are, all the way down the line. Yet what we do works. It’s so strange, this acting business. It comes from inside. She was always so damn proper. She sent thank you notes for thank you notes. I screamed when I found out she signed autographs: ‘Bless you, Joan Crawford.’
  • [After hearing that Joan Crawford cried copiously over “Dark Victory”] Joan always cries a lot. Her tear ducts must be very close to her bladder.
  • [Of her longtime rival] We must hand it to her. Where she came from and all that–she accomplished *much*. She became a movie star, and I became the great actress. There is of course a need for both in this business, but you have to know *when* to put a stop to the nonsense that goes with the job. Stars are people *too*. They have to eat, sleep, and go to the bathroom too, without applause or a standing ovation. But I don’t *think* Joan Crawford ever sleeps. She never *quits* being Joan Crawford. I find that tedious and quite insane.
  • I was not Miss Crawford’s biggest fan, but, wisecracks to the contrary, I did and still do respect her talent. What she did not deserve was that detestable book written by her daughter. I’ve forgotten her name. Horrible. I looked at that book, but I did not need to read it. I wouldn’t read trash like that, and I think it was a terrible, terrible thing for a daughter to do. An abomination! To do something like that to someone who saved you from the orphanage, foster homes, who knows what. If she didn’t like the person who chose to be her mother, she was grown up and could choose her own life. I felt very sorry for Joan Crawford, but I knew she wouldn’t appreciate my pity, because that’s the last thing she would have wanted, anyone being sorry for her, especially me.
  • [when told by director Robert Aldrich that the studios wanted Joan Crawford as her co-star for Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964)] I wouldn’t piss on Joan Crawford if she were on fire.
  • [on Joan] She has slept with every male star at MGM except Lassie.
  • Why am I so good at playing bitches? I think it’s because I’m not a bitch. Maybe that’s why [Joan Crawford] always plays ladies.
  • [on the death Joan] You should never say bad things about the dead, you should only say good . . . Joan Crawford is dead. Good.
  • [Joan Crawford] and I have never been warm friends. We are not simpatico. I admire her, and yet I feel uncomfortable with her. To me, she is the personification of the Movie Star. I have always felt her greatest performance is Crawford being Crawford.
  • The best time I ever had with Joan Crawford was when I pushed her down the stairs in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
“I have been uncompromising, peppery, intractable, monomaniacal, tactless, volatile, and oftentimes disagreeable. I suppose I am larger than life.”


4 thoughts

  1. This is going to be a fun month. I will be sending your article to my daughter Janet. We have been slowly adding to the list of Davis films she has seen and enjoyed. This has been slow due to busy schedules and the fact that the man we live with (hubby/dad) can’t abide our Bette and ruins every watch with snide comments. We just have to find him some friends to get him out of the house, hit the recorder, and we’re off!

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