Ruth Elizabeth Davis

by hannah-gage64 | created - 22 Feb 2014 | updated - 22 Aug 2015 | Public

All the Bette Davis performances I have seen (and my invaluable opinions of them).

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1. The Bad Sister (1931)

Passed | 68 min | Drama

Marianne falls in love with a con artist who has a hidden agenda.

Director: Hobart Henley | Stars: Conrad Nagel, Sidney Fox, Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart

Votes: 838

Worth seeing for historical purposes, but not great shakes as a film. There's bonus baby Bogie here, which provides another saving grace to Miss Davis's film debut. You can also see her alongside Slim Summerville, the man with whom Carl Laemmle Jr rather uncharitably compared her charms. It does seem rather a waste to call a film with Bette Davis 'Bad Sister' and then have her play anything other than the title role. Hollywood would learn.

2. Waterloo Bridge (1931)

81 min | Drama, Romance

A prostitute's self-loathing makes her reluctant to marry an idealistic soldier during World War One.

Director: James Whale | Stars: Mae Clarke, Douglass Montgomery, Doris Lloyd, Frederick Kerr

Votes: 2,266

Myra veers into hysteria a little too frequently for my liking - not helped by the writing turning her mood swings and vacillations into a sort of emotional revolving door - and Roy, though attractive, is blandness itself. Miss Davis barely appears, and frequently delivers lines either from out of shot or with her back to the camera, so not a lot to see here on her account. Roy's entire family, including Miss Davis, is a sheer delight, however. One wishes there were an entire movie of their antics. A fun Pre-Code, but nothing unmissable.

3. Way Back Home (1931)

Passed | 81 min | Drama

Seth Parker takes in Robbie Turner and protects him from his cruel father Rube. When the father disappears, Seth intends to raise Robbie as his own son. The vindictive father attacks Mary ... See full summary »

Director: William A. Seiter | Stars: Phillips Lord, Effie Palmer, Frank Albertson, Bette Davis

Votes: 578

Not exactly a thrill a minute and frequently bogged down in sentiment. It is, at least, an interesting glimpse of a rural New England way of life that no longer exists. Once again, Miss Davis doesn't have too much to do, but she acquits herself well enough. My memories are a little dim, since I had to catch this one at 0430 on TCM, not exactly the most conducive hour for viewing something this slow-paced.

4. Hell's House (1932)

Approved | 72 min | Drama

Jimmy idolizes bootlegger Matt, and when he refuses to implicate his friend, he is sent to reform school. He befriends Shorty, a boy with a heart condition, and escapes to let the world know about the brutal conditions.

Director: Howard Higgin | Stars: Bette Davis, Pat O'Brien, Junior Durkin, Frank Coghlan Jr.

Votes: 902

This is truly dire, if well-intentioned. Miss Davis gives the best performance in the whole mess, despite being given absolutely nothing of note to do. At least it's relatively short and frequently unintentionally hilarious, particularly with its near-constant, oblivious homoeroticism. There's also a truly jaw-dropping casual use of the n-word toward the beginning of the film. You have to take your entertainment where you can with this one.

5. The Man Who Played God (1932)

TV-G | 80 min | Drama, Romance

After losing his hearing, a musician uses lip-reading to help others.

Director: John G. Adolfi | Stars: George Arliss, Bette Davis, Violet Heming, André Luguet

Votes: 835

The beginning of an era: Miss Davis's crucial contract with Warner Bros. And my oh my but there's a lot of ACTING going on here... Yes, all caps ACTING. The film's stage roots are all too apparent, but there is a genuine charm to the story and the sincerity with which it's told. Mr Arliss, alas, looks rather mummified here - I've always found there to be an unsettling physical resemblance to Lon Chaney Sr's interpretation of the Phantom of the Opera, truth be told - and, in common with the majority of the cast, doesn't do particularly subtle work. (I feel obligated to note that I do quite like Mr Arliss in some of the other films in which I've seen him.) Miss Davis is like a jolt of electricity through the otherwise lugubrious production, although, as Mordaunt Hall pointed out in his New York Times review, she does occasionally speak too rapidly for the microphone.

6. So Big! (1932)

Unrated | 81 min | Drama, Romance

Following the death of Selena's father, she's offered a job as a teacher in a small town and a new chapter of her life begins.

Director: William A. Wellman | Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, George Brent, Dickie Moore, Bette Davis

Votes: 1,270

The first of Miss Davis's many appearances with George Brent and her only one with Barbara Stanwyck - although saying she appears with Miss Stanwyck is a bit of a stretch as they never occupy the screen at the same time. A good film with several excellent performances, particularly Miss Stanwyck in the lead and Miss Davis (who still speaks a touch too rapidly for that microphone), Dick Winslow and Dorothy Peterson in supporting roles. My primary complaint is that the whole enterprise feels a bit shallow and rushed, as presumably is inevitable when condensing an Edna Ferber epic to a scant 80 minutes of screen-time. Worthwhile nonetheless.

7. The Rich Are Always with Us (1932)

TV-G | 71 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

A socialite gets a divorce but can't keep out of her ex-husband's life.

Director: Alfred E. Green | Stars: Ruth Chatterton, George Brent, Bette Davis, John Miljan

Votes: 768

I have absolutely no idea what this title means. I have no idea why this movie exists. I do not care even remotely about these characters or their romantic entanglements and disentanglements. But those sets! Those Orry-Kelly gowns! Style over substance is the best possible summary of this film. Miss Davis looks gorgeous and is extremely engaging. If a young, adorable Bette Davis is what you seek, this picture comes recommended. Just let everything else wash over you. Also interesting to note is that George Brent performs the lighting two cigarettes in his mouth and giving one to Ruth Chatterton trick that would become so iconic a decade later - only with Paul Henreid and Bette Davis performing the action in a far more interesting story.

8. The Dark Horse (1932)

Passed | 75 min | Comedy

Jailbird is hired to lead a dimwitted candidate's campaign for governor.

Director: Alfred E. Green | Stars: Warren William, Bette Davis, Guy Kibbee, Vivienne Osborne

Votes: 896

There are moments of genuine hilarity in this political satire - and there is a timelessness to a number of the elements of the electoral process that the film skewers. I always have a bit of a problem with films in which a man's non-payment of alimony is meant to be seen as an endearing character quirk rather than as an irresponsible, sleazy act. No matter how heinous a harpy the ex-wife in question is, that invariably rubs me the wrong way. I also have a bit of an allergy to Frank McHugh. Warren William, Miss Davis, Guy Kibbee and Vivienne Osborne acquit themselves very well; the film isn't consistently funny, but when it hits the mark, it does so admirably.

9. The Cabin in the Cotton (1932)

TV-G | 78 min | Drama

A tenant farmer's son is caught in the middle of owner-tenant disputes when he falls for the plantation owner's seductive daughter.

Director: Michael Curtiz | Stars: Richard Barthelmess, Bette Davis, Dorothy Jordan, Hardie Albright

Votes: 1,320

'I'd like to kiss ya, but I just washed my hair - bye!' Perhaps the first classic Bette Davis performance: a manipulative Southern vixen. She is perhaps the most powerful force pulling Marvin Blake (Richard Barthelmess, flagrantly nowhere near the age his character is meant to be) away from his tenant farmer roots and toward the more glamorous world of the planters. True to its preamble, the film endeavours to present a balanced perspective on the planter vs tenant conflict. This is undermined somewhat by Berton Churchill's abrupt transformation into a pantomime villain toward the end of the picture, but he and Miss Davis come back around just as suddenly at the fade-out. Worth watching for Miss Davis's performance alone, but an interesting film in its own right.

10. Three on a Match (1932)

Passed | 63 min | Crime, Drama, Romance

Although Vivian Revere is seemingly the most successful of a trio of reunited schoolmates, she throws it away by descending into a life of debauchery and drugs.

Director: Mervyn LeRoy | Stars: Joan Blondell, Warren William, Ann Dvorak, Bette Davis

Votes: 2,933

An insanely entertaining Pre-Code, careening at breakneck speed through Ann Dvorak's transformation from dissatisfied wealthy lawyer's wife to dissolute addict. In the titular trifecta, Miss Dvorak gets all the juicy acting opportunity, the delightful Miss Blondell gets all the wisecracks and Miss Davis... gets to look nice and periodically strip down to lingerie and bathing suits. In short, she gets the short end of the stick here. What the film lacks in Davis content it makes up for in the debut of the 'tough guy' incarnation of Humphrey Bogart. It fills me with ridiculous glee when he responds to a curly-headed moppet's plea not to hurt his mother with a sneering 'Okay - I'll bear that mind.' Tremendous fun, if very Davis-light.

11. 20,000 Years in Sing Sing (1932)

Passed | 78 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

Brash hoodlum Tom Connors enters Sing Sing cocksure of himself and disrespectful toward authority, but his tough but compassionate warden changes him.

Director: Michael Curtiz | Stars: Spencer Tracy, Bette Davis, Arthur Byron, Lyle Talbot

Votes: 2,179

The only screen collaboration between acting titans (and birthday buddies) Bette Davis and Spencer Tracy - their superb chemistry, on display both here and in the Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of Dark Victory they did together, makes this a real shame. Tracy and Davis make a truly dynamic duo. The film itself isn't too shabby either, if occasionally straining credulity with its major plot points. Miss Davis is also made to convey being critically injured with the 'aid' of two gauze armlets and a gauze choker, an experience which likely contributed to her taking such matters into her own hands on the set of Marked Woman five years later. An exciting and well-acted prison drama from the studio that specialised in that genre.

12. Just Around the Corner (1933)

Approved | 18 min | Short, Drama

Promotional short produced by General Electric for release through Warner Bros. to advertise GE's home appliances.

Stars: Warren William, Joan Blondell, Bette Davis, Dick Powell

Votes: 198

It's more fun than it should be to watch the top stars at Warner Bros. shill for General Electric. Miss Davis gives impassioned endorsements of products from electric dishwashers to doorbells, although there are a few (hilarious) moments in which her annoyance at having her barely-tapped talents wasted on a glorified advertisement for household appliances bubbles to the surface. It's short and painlessly entertaining.

13. Parachute Jumper (1933)

Passed | 72 min | Drama

To share expenses unemployed Alabama move in with also unemployed Bill and Toodles. Bill is hired by a gangster's mistress and ultimately becomes the gangster's bodyguard. Alabama ... See full summary »

Director: Alfred E. Green | Stars: Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Bette Davis, Frank McHugh, Claire Dodd

Votes: 715

My severe allergy to Frank McHugh rears its ugly head again. This is a fun little romp, if by no means a masterpiece. Mr Fairbanks makes a thoroughly entertaining hero and there are far more action-packed aerial sequences here than in any other Bette Davis film (which, admittedly, isn't saying much). Miss Davis is adorable and trots out her Southern accent again, although she doesn't have an awful lot to do. Watch out for a Pre Code instance of 'flipping the bird'!

14. The Working Man (1933)

Passed | 78 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

Successful wealthy shoe manufacturer John Reeves takes a vacation, leaving his business in the hands of his nephew. While on vacation Reeves runs into his rival's heirs, who are living it ... See full summary »

Director: John G. Adolfi | Stars: George Arliss, Bette Davis, Theodore Newton, Hardie Albright

Votes: 817

I have a soft spot for this film. Not only is Mr Arliss looking significantly less cadaverous than in The Man Who Played God (although I could easily have muddled my way through life without catching a glimpse of his bare feet), he's an unqualified delight, as is Miss Davis. Nothing earth-shattering here, but there are certainly far worse ways to spend 78 minutes.

15. Ex-Lady (1933)

Unrated | 67 min | Comedy, Drama

Although free spirit Helen Bauer does not believe in marriage, she consents to marry Don, but his infidelities cause her to also take on a lover.

Director: Robert Florey | Stars: Bette Davis, Gene Raymond, Frank McHugh, Monroe Owsley

Votes: 1,046

The good: Miss Davis looks divine and occasionally gets to issue proto-feminist statements. The bad: pretty much everything else. Literally none of the male characters are even remotely likeable. Gene Raymond oscillates between being excruciatingly bland and treating Miss Davis's character rather abominably. His appeal is a complete mystery. Monroe Owsley is sleazy and refuses to take Miss Davis's repeated 'no's for an answer. Frank McHugh is... Frank McHugh. The film also can't seem to decide what, if any, stance it's going to take on the story's major theme - whether long-term, intimate relationships without benefit of clergy are practical or advisable.

16. Bureau of Missing Persons (1933)

Passed | 73 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

Butch Saunders has been transferred to Missing Persons because he was too brutal in other police work. He regards the assignment as "kindergarten" work. When a young woman asks him to help ... See full summary »

Director: Roy Del Ruth | Stars: Bette Davis, Lewis Stone, Pat O'Brien, Glenda Farrell

Votes: 947

A mishmash of adventures in the titular Bureau, with Judge Hardy (aka Lewis Stone) leading his detectives wisely in their endeavours to restore missing persons to their loved ones - or whoever else is looking for them. Miss Davis, the top-billed performer, doesn't show up until half an hour into the 72 minute film, which should give you some idea of the scattered focus and wide scope of the plot. Likewise, it careens tonally from a semi-realistic procedural to wacky police comedy to... whatever a sequence in which carrier pigeons being tracked by plane is presented as a logical solution to a problem can be called. Wildly uneven, and Pat O'Brien's character, Butch, is often dangerously close to being merely an unlikeable, physically abusive jerk.

17. The Big Shakedown (1934)

Not Rated | 64 min | Crime, Drama

Racketeers flood the market with counterfeit cosmetics and drugs, causing some tragedies.

Director: John Francis Dillon | Stars: Charles Farrell, Bette Davis, Ricardo Cortez, Glenda Farrell

Votes: 688

18. Fashions of 1934 (1934)

78 min | Comedy, Drama, Musical

When the Manhattan investment firm of Sherwood Nash goes broke, he joins forces with his partner Snap and fashion designer Lynn Mason to provide discount shops with cheap copies of Paris couture dresses.

Director: William Dieterle | Stars: William Powell, Bette Davis, Frank McHugh, Hugh Herbert

Votes: 1,173

19. Jimmy the Gent (1934)

Passed | 67 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

An unpolished racketeer, whose racket is finding heirs for unclaimed fortunes, affects ethics and tea-drinking manners to win back the sweetheart who now works for his seemingly upright competitor.

Director: Michael Curtiz | Stars: James Cagney, Bette Davis, Allen Jenkins, Alan Dinehart

Votes: 1,438

20. Fog Over Frisco (1934)

Approved | 68 min | Crime, Mystery, Thriller

The lifestyles of Arlene and Valkyr Bradford, half-sisters from a respected San Francisco family, diverge markedly as Arlene takes up with criminals.

Director: William Dieterle | Stars: Bette Davis, Donald Woods, Margaret Lindsay, Lyle Talbot

Votes: 1,259

21. Of Human Bondage (1934)

Not Rated | 83 min | Drama, Romance

A young man finds himself attracted to a cold and unfeeling waitress who may ultimately destroy them both.

Director: John Cromwell | Stars: Bette Davis, Leslie Howard, Frances Dee, Kay Johnson

Votes: 5,569

22. Housewife (1934)

Passed | 69 min | Drama

Nan Reynolds encourages her copywriter husband Bill to open his own agency. Nearly out of business, he finally gets a client. Former girlfriend Patricia Berkeley writes a very successful ... See full summary »

Director: Alfred E. Green | Stars: George Brent, Bette Davis, Ann Dvorak, John Halliday

Votes: 773

23. Bordertown (1935)

Approved | 90 min | Crime, Drama

Embittered when prejudice cuts short his nascent law career, once-idealistic Johnny Ramirez leaves his home in Los Angeles and ends up in Mexico. He quickly becomes the invaluable ... See full summary »

Director: Archie Mayo | Stars: Paul Muni, Bette Davis, Margaret Lindsay, Eugene Pallette

Votes: 1,329

24. The Girl from 10th Avenue (1935)

Approved | 69 min | Drama

When his fiancée Valentine dumps him, prominent lawyer Geoffrey Sherwood goes on a bender and winds up married to a stranger, Miriam Brady. They decide to give their marriage a chance. ... See full summary »

Director: Alfred E. Green | Stars: Bette Davis, Ian Hunter, Colin Clive, Alison Skipworth

Votes: 952

25. Front Page Woman (1935)

Passed | 82 min | Comedy, Romance

A woman reporter tries to prove she's just as good as any man, but runs into trouble along the way.

Director: Michael Curtiz | Stars: Bette Davis, George Brent, Roscoe Karns, Wini Shaw

Votes: 1,097

26. Special Agent (1935)

Approved | 76 min | Crime, Drama

Newspaperman Bill Bradford becomes a special agent for the tax service trying to end the career of racketeer Alexander Carston. Julie Gardner is Carston's bookkeeper. Bradford enters ... See full summary »

Director: William Keighley | Stars: Bette Davis, George Brent, Ricardo Cortez, Jack La Rue

Votes: 654

27. Dangerous (1935)

Approved | 79 min | Drama

An alcoholic actress who is considered a dangerous jinx is rehabilitated, but she then shows that she's as dangerous as ever.

Director: Alfred E. Green | Stars: Bette Davis, Franchot Tone, Margaret Lindsay, Alison Skipworth

Votes: 2,553

28. The Petrified Forest (1936)

Not Rated | 82 min | Drama, Film-Noir, Romance

A waitress, a hobo and a bank robber get mixed up at a lonely diner in the desert.

Director: Archie Mayo | Stars: Leslie Howard, Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis, Genevieve Tobin

Votes: 11,453

29. The Golden Arrow (1936)

Approved | 68 min | Comedy, Family

It's the Florida party season for heiresses, with both Oklahoma oil heiress Hortense Burke-Meyers and New York face cream heiress Daisy Appleby in the state. And where the single American ... See full summary »

Director: Alfred E. Green | Stars: Bette Davis, George Brent, Eugene Pallette, Dick Foran

Votes: 799

30. Satan Met a Lady (1936)

Approved | 74 min | Comedy, Crime, Mystery

In this spoof of the story The Maltese Falcon (1941) is based on, a double-crossing woman, the two-timing P.I. she hired, the corpulent "empress of crime", and a gentleman thief are all after a legendary priceless eighth-century ram's horn.

Director: William Dieterle | Stars: Bette Davis, Warren William, Alison Skipworth, Arthur Treacher

Votes: 1,711

31. Marked Woman (1937)

Approved | 96 min | Crime, Film-Noir, Thriller

A crusading DA persuades a clip joint "party girl" to testify against her mobster boss after her innocent sister is accidentally murdered during one of his unsavory "parties".

Directors: Lloyd Bacon, Michael Curtiz | Stars: Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart, Lola Lane, Isabel Jewell

Votes: 2,999

32. Kid Galahad (1937)

Approved | 102 min | Crime, Drama, Romance

Fight promoter Nick Donati grooms a bellhop as a future champ, but has second thoughts when the 'kid' falls for his sister.

Director: Michael Curtiz | Stars: Edward G. Robinson, Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart, Wayne Morris

Votes: 2,687

33. That Certain Woman (1937)

Approved | 93 min | Drama, Romance

Mary Donnell, a young legal secretary with a past, elopes with a client's son, but his father has the marriage annulled without knowing she's pregnant.

Director: Edmund Goulding | Stars: Bette Davis, Henry Fonda, Anita Louise, Ian Hunter

Votes: 1,195

34. It's Love I'm After (1937)

Approved | 90 min | Comedy

An actor of the stage finds himself pursued by a lovestruck fan while trying to patch up a tempestuous relationship with his actress lover.

Director: Archie Mayo | Stars: Leslie Howard, Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, Patric Knowles

Votes: 1,870

35. Jezebel (1938)

Approved | 104 min | Drama, Romance

In 1850s Louisiana, a free-spirited Southern belle loses her fiancé due to her stubborn vanity and pride, and vows to win him back.

Director: William Wyler | Stars: Bette Davis, Henry Fonda, George Brent, Margaret Lindsay

Votes: 10,916

36. The Sisters (1938)

Approved | 99 min | Drama

Three daughters of a small town pharmacist undergo trials and tribulations in their problematic marriages between 1904 and 1908.

Director: Anatole Litvak | Stars: Errol Flynn, Bette Davis, Anita Louise, Ian Hunter

Votes: 1,597

37. Dark Victory (1939)

Approved | 104 min | Drama, Romance

A young socialite is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, and must decide whether or not she'll meet her final days with dignity.

Director: Edmund Goulding | Stars: Bette Davis, George Brent, Humphrey Bogart, Geraldine Fitzgerald

Votes: 9,131

38. Juarez (1939)

Approved | 125 min | Biography, Drama, History

Louis Napoleon III takes advantage of the American Civil War to circumvent the Monroe Doctrine and expand his power by helping Emperor Maximillian Hapsburg to add Mexico to his empire. of Mexico.

Director: William Dieterle | Stars: Paul Muni, Bette Davis, Brian Aherne, Claude Rains

Votes: 1,793

39. The Old Maid (1939)

Approved | 95 min | Drama

The arrival of an ex-lover on a young woman's wedding day sets in motion a chain of events which will alter her and her cousin's lives forever.

Director: Edmund Goulding | Stars: Bette Davis, Miriam Hopkins, George Brent, Donald Crisp

Votes: 2,896

40. The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939)

Approved | 106 min | Biography, Drama, History

A depiction of the love/hate relationship between Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex.

Director: Michael Curtiz | Stars: Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Donald Crisp

Votes: 4,647

41. If I Forget You (1940)

Approved | 8 min | Short, Music

Judy Garland sings the title song, a tribute to Will Rogers.

Stars: Kay Kyser, Judy Garland, Bette Davis, Will Rogers

Votes: 148

42. All This, and Heaven Too (1940)

Approved | 141 min | Drama, Romance

A duchess' irrational behavior toward the governess of her children triggers tragic events that will change her family's lives forever.

Director: Anatole Litvak | Stars: Bette Davis, Charles Boyer, Jeffrey Lynn, Barbara O'Neil

Votes: 3,998

43. The Letter (1940)

Not Rated | 95 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

The wife of a rubber plantation administrator shoots a man to death and claims it was self-defense, but a letter in her own hand may prove her undoing.

Director: William Wyler | Stars: Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall, James Stephenson, Frieda Inescort

Votes: 10,592

44. The Great Lie (1941)

Approved | 108 min | Drama

After a newlywed's husband apparently dies in a plane crash, she discovers that her rival for his affections is now pregnant with his child.

Director: Edmund Goulding | Stars: Bette Davis, George Brent, Mary Astor, Lucile Watson

Votes: 3,173

45. Shining Victory (1941)

Approved | 80 min | Drama

In a Scottish sanitarium, a brilliant research psychiatrist works on a treatment for dementia precox. He falls for his altruistic female lab assistant and they begin a passionate tragic relationship.

Director: Irving Rapper | Stars: James Stephenson, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Donald Crisp, Barbara O'Neil

Votes: 522

46. The Bride Came C.O.D. (1941)

Approved | 92 min | Comedy, Romance

A financially-strapped charter pilot hires himself to an oil tycoon to kidnap his madcap daughter and prevent her from marrying a vapid band leader.

Director: William Keighley | Stars: James Cagney, Bette Davis, Stuart Erwin, Eugene Pallette

Votes: 2,740

47. The Little Foxes (1941)

Approved | 116 min | Drama, Romance

The ruthless, moneyed Hubbard clan lives in, and poisons, their part of the deep South at the turn of the twentieth century.

Director: William Wyler | Stars: Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall, Teresa Wright, Richard Carlson

Votes: 9,408

48. The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942)

G | 112 min | Comedy, Romance

When acerbic critic Sheridan Whiteside slips on the front steps of a provincial Ohio businessman's home and breaks his hip, he and his entourage take over the house indefinitely.

Director: William Keighley | Stars: Bette Davis, Ann Sheridan, Monty Woolley, Richard Travis

Votes: 6,152