20 October 2005 | theowinthrop
Bette as she ages
As less and less opportunities arose for Bette Davis to make motion pictures in the 1970s and 1980s in lead roles, she appeared on more and more television films. A PIANO FOR MRS. CIMINO was one of these. The film was about a widow who was considered too old to run her husband's music store by her family. Davis gave considerable dignity to the occasionally frail Mrs. Cimino. While she was occasionally on the edge of disaster (we see her almost cheated by a con artist at one point), she usually shows she can handle most of the crisis she faces. It also turns out that the music store, which a conservator turns over to an acquaintance (Graham Jarvis) to run, is almost run into the ground by Jarvis and an inept nephew.
Before the film ends, Davis meets a new man of her own age whom she starts living with. Interestingly enough it is Keenan Wynn, who had appeared once before in a film with Davis - PHONE CALL FROM A STRANGER, made three decades earlier. There he was a happy-go-lucky salesman who could get on one's nerves due to his sense of humor, but who turned out to be a steady and reliable husband to Davis' unfaithful wife - after she gets crippled. Here Wynn is a decent fellow who plays the piano while Mrs. Cimino sings. They turn out to be a good couple together.
It was a good film for Davis to appear in - giving her a proper aging role that was meaningful. While her last great part, the blind sister in THE WHALES OF AUGUST, was still to come, had she stopped with A PIANO FOR MRS. CIMINO it would have been a lesser but respectable conclusion to her career.