Bette Davis

All posts tagged Bette Davis

Music to Make Horror Movies By: Perry Lee Blackwell

Published September 15, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

Perry Combo

She made two memorable film appearances and worked with many of the jazz greats throughout her career, but there is very little information available about the exquisitely talented Perry Lee Blackwell. Sometimes credited as Perri Lee, this joyous multi-hyphenate (pianist-organist-vocalist) released at least two recordings during her career and she was the featured performer at the historic Parisian Room in Los Angeles for many years, as well.

Nicely, her love of performing is apparent in her scenes in Dead Ringer, one of Bette Davis’ latter day gothic horror projects. While that film has a huge cult following, Blackwell is still probably best known for her iconic interactions with Doris Day and Rock Hudson in the beloved romantic comedy Pillow Talk.

 

With her recordings available from outlets like Discogs and a number of blogs beginning to extol her virtues, it seems like the perfect time to rediscover the amazing Blackwell, who, in her 90’s now, seems to truly appreciate hearing about the latter day love she has been receiving from fans.

Perry Lee Blackwell 1

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Retro Sharkbait Village: Scream, Pretty Peggy

Published June 14, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

Scream Pretty Peggy Main

Folks, just listen to Bette Davis. Okay? She’s lived and she knows a lot of shit and she really means it when she tells you to go away! There’s a reason at work there.

Of course, if Sian Barbara Allen’s determined Peggy had listened to Davis’ abrupt Mrs. Elliot in the 1973 ABC Suspense Movie Scream, Pretty Peggy, we would have lost about 60 minutes of film time…and that ridiculous ending carved from the static of Robert Bloch’s mind would have been lost forever, as well! So there is that to say for not listening to a wise traveler’s advice. Scream Pretty Peggy Bette

Indeed, this creepy mansion based time warp, bred from the same cloth as William Castle’s Homicidal and Bloch’s Psycho, may not fly, politically, today. But Allen offers a very determined heroine and while the character’s reckless stupidity is paramount, the enthusiasm with which the actress attacks the role almost verges on making Peggy a feministic heroine. Doubtless, this character’s strong willed nature was surely what drew this busy actress, who also enacted the rites of fear in the psycho-chiller You’ll Like My Mother, to the role. Well, that and the pay check, of course!

Scream Pretty Peggy SianMoodily directed by Gordon Hessler (Scream and Scream Again, The Oblong Box, Cry of the Banshee), this sadistic potboiler, focusing on Peggy playing housekeeper to a distinguished yet mysterious artist and his secretive family, is obvious enhanced by Davis’ presence. But eagle eyed partiers will also recognize Tovah Feldshuh (as the first victim here) and Claude Rains’ daughter Jessica as an snarky employment agency worker.

Readily available on YouTube, this twist back in time is definitely worth a rainy afternoon (or morning) of any happy nostalgia buff’s time.

Until the next offering, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Bette Davis and Andy Williams

Published May 26, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

Davis and Williams

Bette Davis threw herself, gamely, into whatever opportunities came her way. Whether shaving her head, elongating her eyebrows or adding padding to her frame, there was little that she wouldn’t do for a role. Fully embracing her horror queen mantle, Davis even recorded a rock and roll number celebrating Baby Jane, one of her most endearingly acclaimed gothic portrayals. Here she performs that (culturally fascinating) number on The Andy Williams Show.

Interestingly, Davis ended her career with a role in genre icon Larry Cohen’s Wicked Stepmother, a zany look at witchy (and bewitching) women – qualities that this erstwhile adventuress always possessed.

Meanwhile, Williams, whose reputation was always a bit sunnier than diva Davis’s, has found his music also being used in such darker projects as The Shape of Water and The Zodiac. Most effectively, perhaps, his beaming version of Happy Heart was used to incredible effect in Shallow Grave, a violent thriller that, culturally, announced actor Ewan McGregor as a force to be reckoned with.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Davis and Williams 2

Horror Mash-up: Bette Davis & Frances Dee

Published May 18, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

Bette Frances Duo

Though they share no screen time, 1934’s Of Human Bondage proved to be a successful project for Frances Dee, who would go on to headline Val Lewton’s classic 1943 offering I Walked With a Zombie, and Bette Davis, whose take on the spiteful Mildred Rogers finally established her as a star of significant reckoning.

davis bondageDavis, of course, would go on to become one of the queens of gothic horror with appearances in such revered projects as Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? and Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte. Here, though, her determination to artistic truth emerged via her insistence that Mildred’s decline not be a pretty one, but a dark and realistic journey.  Her perseverance was also tested here as she was, reportedly, not treated well by her co-star Leslie Howard, who felt that a Brit should have been cast in the role in deference to the film’s English setting.

Dee has the nicer, less meaty role here. As the kind and understanding woman who eventually gains Howard’s heart, she does project a luminous quality that would bring her good stead in her most famous role of Betsey Connell, a nurse introduced to the ominous world of voodoo in (the above mentioned)  I Walked with a Zombie.frances dee bondage.jpg

This is truly Davis’ show, though. Compelling even as her repellant actions to Howard’s club footed Philip Carey make one wonder what he could ever see in her, she provides a bravura performance that has lingered in the public consciousness for decades.

Now, be sure to wipe your mouth, wipe your mouth…and until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Bette Davis

Published April 22, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

bette davis hush hush

After her role in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, Bette Davis became the goddess of the Grand Guignol horror film. Her presence electrified such projects as Dead Ringer, The Nanny, Burnt Offerings and The Secret of Harvest Home.

While not as celebrated  as Baby Jane, Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte was another solid offering in the scare sweepstakes. Nominated for numerous Academy Awards (including one for supporting actress Agnes Moorhead), this production was, originally, supposed to reunite Davis with Jane co-star Joan Crawford. Crawford took ill, though, and was replaced by Olivia De Havilland, who gives a ghoulishly intense performance as Bette’s determined rival.

Here, Davis, the master of the television interview, sings Charlotte’s theme song on one such appearance.

Meanwhile, discounting Jane’s maniacally funny I’m Writing a Letter to Daddy, Davis’ best known singing performance has to be the clever They’re Either Too Young or Too Old from the star studded Thank Your Lucky Stars.

Sonically satiated, we leave you with one of Bette from her first breath of spring….

bete glamour

…and until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Hopelessly Devoted to: Gladys Cooper!

Published November 26, 2015 by biggayhorrorfan

Gladys-Cooper mainShe provided all sorts of official mayhem as the regal Myrna Hartley in Universal’s fun 1941 horror effort The Black Cat, but the divine Gladys Cooper (1881-1971) truly created cinema’s evilest woman in a flick whose origins were dramatic not suspense filled. As Bette Davis’s manipulative, controlling mother, Mrs. Henry Dale, in the magnificent 1942 sob fest Now, Voyager, Cooper created a character whose black will was palpable. Determined to keep her meek daughter Charlotte subservient to her, Cooper invests Dale with an iron fisted bull headedness that makes audiences truly feel for her soft spoken offspring. Eventually, when Charlotte finally discovers the will to defy her mother, Cooper lets some admiration and playfulness seep into her characterization. But her commitment to Dale’s assessment that a late in life child must be a mother’s companion truly makes this one of the truest, scariest individuals ever brought to the screen.Gladys 1

Cooper, who was considered one of the most stunning women in England during her youth, brought a more modest haughtiness and a seeming nod to her fashion plate years with her presence, the previous year, in The Black Cat. Being cuckolded by Basil Rathbone’s sly and slimy Montague, of course, naturally sets her Myrna on a bad course and Cooper drips with casual venom as she causes (often deadly) problems for her co-stars, (the sweet) Anne Gwynne and (the impervious) Gale Sondergaard.

Gladys BC 3In her later years, Cooper graced such (often macabre) anthology shows as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. In fact, her trio of The Twilight Zone episodes are among some of the highest regarded of the series. The most famous of these, perhaps, is 1962’s Nothing in the Dark, in which a young and beautiful Robert Redford welcomed Cooper’s Wanda Dunn to the hereafter as a very appealing version of death. She, rightfully, enacts Dunn’s controlling fear and suspiciousness there. Thankfully, both The Outer Limits and The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. utilized Cooper’s more mysterious charms to play mediums of varying degrees of authenticity in fun episodes of those series, as well.

Gladys 4But perhaps nothing establishes Cooper’s importance better than an appearance by her former co-star Davis on a 1971 episode of The Dick Cavett Show. Reminiscing about Cooper, who had just died, Davis marvels about what a beautiful person, inside and out, she was. A sincere appreciation from one diva to another? Has a higher honor ever been established?

Gladys BC 2

Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Review: The Tell Tale Heart

Published August 25, 2014 by biggayhorrorfan

tell tale heart
I have a feeling a platoon of estrogen fueled ghosts are going to be paying writer-director Bart Mastronardi a visit soon. Whether it’ll be Bette Davis, Joan Bennett and Agnes Moorehead or some other golden age dream team is anyone’s guess. But goddess knows, many of those classic screen sirens have to be pissed that Mastronardi didn’t create Miss Lamarr, the faded Hollywood actress who, even in a supporting capacity, is one of the highlights of his version of The Tell Tale Heart, in their lifetimes.

Of course, the milkily doomed Lamarr is enacted with regal precision by Alan Rowe Kelly, a true student of those sassy broads. Therefore, he and Mastronardi establish a sense of gothic glamour throughout the entirety of the piece, one portion of the highly anticipated anthology film Tales of Poe.

As expected, as the story’s narrator and primary participant, legendary genre actress Debbie Rochon does an exemplary job. As a former nurse relating the violent origins of her arrival at a mental health asylum, Rochon glows with a crackled subtlety. It is one of her most nuanced performances in a career layered with passionate portrayals. lesleh

The true surprise here, though, is Lesleh Donaldson as Evelyn Dyck, one of asylum’s boldest patients. Donaldson, of course, is well loved for her pretty final girl/victim roles in slasher stalwarts like Happy Birthday to Me, Curtains and Funeral Home. Here, obviously relieved to be given something tangible to do, she attacks her role with comedic gusto. Never straining into parody, she nearly steals the show, revealing largely unseen skills in her (obviously) eclectic repertoire.

Mastronardi, himself, gives this whole outing the organdy visual flair of Corman’s earlier Poe efforts mixed with a dash of Hammer’s (more violent) latter years. The sheen of grizzly humor he supplies is also grand, making one truly curious about the final two efforts in this sure to be dazzling spectacle.

Be sure to keep the arteries flowing with Tales of Poe at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tales-of-Poe.

Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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