17 October 2008 | cchase
Bette Davis: A Life Dusted With Hallmarks and Heartbreak...
As with any Silver Screen documentary co-produced by Turner Classic Movies, you would expect nothing less than an account of the highest quality, and STARDUST: THE BETTE DAVIS STORY does not disappoint. One of the most well-balanced accounts on the actress I've ever had the pleasure of seeing, it manages to be surprisingly subjective by presenting a portrait of one of Hollywood's most celebrated legends warts-and-all, complete with archival footage, sound clips and close-up interviews with friends, fans and those people still with us who knew her best.
By turns it's funny, amazing, amusing and very sad - showing a woman who was as complex as the best roles she played, and as someone who worked tirelessly to make sure that her performances (and in some cases the performances of her co-stars) were never "phoned-in", and how consumed with a passion for the work, she payed a terrible price by all but sacrificing the quality of what could and should've been a wonderful personal life.
But rather than go more deeply into the sordid details of affairs, failed marriages and rivalries with contemporaries and studio execs - especially her "surrogate father", Jack Warner, the doc spends a lot more time reviewing some of Ms. Davis's most lauded (and rightfully so) performances from such greats as NOW, VOYAGER, THE LITTLE FOXES, JEZEBEL and one of my personal favorites, THE LETTER.
Bette Davis was not a conventional Hollywood beauty. But then again, she wasn't a conventional anything. And thank goodness that writer/director Peter Jones saw fit to tell her story in anything but a conventional way. I think she would've really appreciated that.