Monday, April 27, 2015

1935: Bette Davis for Dangerous

 Winning for her first official nomination (not counting the write-in of the previous year), Bette Davis plays a stage actress who is supposedly jinxed, and has therefore stopped working. In the beginning, she's a hopeless drunk, until romance gives her life new purpose. But will her jinx ruin the life of her new boyfriend, too?

As I mentioned in my last post, people were outraged when Bette Davis wasn't nominated for Of Human Bondage, to the point that write-in votes were allowed that year and the following year. She still lost to Claudette Colbert, so I suspected that that might have had something to do with her win for this movie, but I wasn't sure. Now that I've seen Dangerous, I am sure: the only possible reason she could have won for this performance was to make up for the previous year. I haven't seen Of Human Bondage, but it has to be far better than this. It's one of the cheesiest, most bizarre movies I've ever seen. Davis's performance, while one of the better aspects of the film, is over-the-top, and at times even painful to watch. It didn't help that she had zero chemistry with her co-star, Franchot Tone. He did, however, have decent chemistry with Margaret Lindsay, who played the fiancée he deserted for Davis, which just made no sense. Why would you leave a woman you're clearly in love with for a woman you have awkwardly forced love scenes with?

The one good thing I can think to say about this movie is that it isn't super predictable. At least, it didn't always go the direction I thought it would, which was kind of refreshing. Beyond that, the dialogue is terrible and the acting mediocre. Davis definitely has her moments, of course, but most of the time her performance is forced and unconvincing. It's unfortunate that such a legendary performer would win an Oscar for such an awful movie as this and not for, say, All About Eve or Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, in both of which she gave incredible performances. Oh well, these things happen; just ask Katharine Hepburn.

Bette Davis was nominated for this award a total of 10 times (again not counting the write-in), which as of right now puts her in third place for most Best Actress nominations, and puts her in a tie for third most acting nominations in any category. She won for her next nomination, three years after this, for a movie which I hope is at least three times better than this, but stay tuned to find out.

Next year's winner is Luise Rainer, in the second Best Picture Winner to win Best Actress.

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