Friday, April 4, 2008
bette davis eyes
My favorite theatre in Santa Monica is the tiny little Aero on Montana. It's part of the American Cinematheque, and shows mostly retrospectives. It's a great little 1940 gem of the late deco period, with nice exterior detailing and a wonderful original ticket booth. The theater itself has been restored to a homogenized box, but at least the building was preserved in its original form, and they do some wonderful film series.
Last night was the first night of the Bette Davis Tribute. To mark the 100th anniversary of her birth, there are four nights of Bette. The tribute opened with Jezebel (1938), her Oscar winning performance as an spoiled and impulsive young woman who scandalizes polite society by wearing a brazen red dress to an important cotillion. Note to trivia buffs: the dress was actually brown, which looked as red would appear in a black and white film. And we thought it was easier then.
For the second reel, she went from wardrobe malfunctions to murder in The Letter (1940), as an unfaithful wife packin' a pistol, and seeming to get away with it. Both films felt heavily influenced by the Hays act, and feature a heavy dose of moral contrition, which thankfully somehow never quite wrinkles those Orry-Kelly gowns. Great fun to see her so early in her career.
Tonight we have Dark Victory, regard as one of her finest, and Now Voyager. So last night she was a bitch, tonight will be about self actualization. And tomorrow? Tomorrow will be All About Eve (1950) and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane (1962). Camp classics on the big screen in a classic theater. I'll come up for air on Sunday.