Bette Davis Project #13: That Certain Woman (1937)

That Certain Woman (1937) is, thus far, one of my favorite Bette films and a real delight to stumble upon during this Project. Sadly, my copy of the film is poor, which you’ll confirm by looking at my screencaps. It’s available on DVD now, so if you get a chance to see this film, do! That Certain Woman is one of the few 1930s Bette melodramas that distinguishes itself from the others that so often feel like Kay Francis’ castoffs. For some reason, the copy TCM has covers the edges of the title screen with a grey border so you can’t see the usual “First National Picture” credit on the bottom. No idea why. I assume it’s a re-release print with some copyright issue.   The plot of That Certain Woman is compelling in a way that your usual WB programmer isn’t. Bette is Mary Donnell, who we first see going to the cemetery on a cold, rainy evening in 1933. She’s followed there by a reporter who confronts her: She’s the former Mrs. Al Haines, widowed exactly four years earlier when her gangster husband was killed in the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. The reporter is doing a “where are they now” series on people involved in the massacre, but Mary won’t have anything to do with it. She’s got a job as a secretary now, a new life, and is as far away from the mob as she can be. Unfortunately, the reporter knows about her new life and … Continue reading

Joan and Renee

Renee Adoree Joan CrawfordBoth portraits credited on various websites to Ruth Harriet Louise, circa 1928. I had to fight the urge to title this post “What The Hell Lead Up To This?”

Bette Davis Project #12: Front Page Woman (1935)

Front Page Woman (1935) was released a mere six weeks after The Girl from 10th Avenue, and it shows. These two programmers share six cast members and even some of the same sets. Long-time readers will remember how tired I have become of George Brent playing the guy trying to keep a woman in the home where she belongs. Well, folks, Front Page Woman is by far the worst offender in that category… thus far. Ellen (Davis) is a young reporter assigned to cover the execution of a murderer at midnight. Boyfriend and fellow reporter Curt (Brent) doesn’t think a woman should be reporting on such a thing and, true to 1935, Ellen faints to prove how right he was. I’m surprised she didn’t lose a heel while running or fend off the bad guy by hitting him with her purse. Maybe I should mention that Curt and the other reporters deliberately set out to upset her with graphic talk about the execution. Curt writes two news stories, one for his paper and one for Ellen’s to cover for her womanly inability to report the news, but a screw-up causes the exact story to go into both papers. Ellen thinks he deliberately sabotaged her, and he might as well have: At a 3-alarm fire, Ellen is not allowed in to the area to report on the news because she’s a woman. Curt adds to this problem by lying to the police officers that she’s not even a reporter in the … Continue reading

Secret Life of Objects: Female & Footlight Parade

Back in April, I briefly blogged about Female (1933), and a kind commenter mentioned that the swimming pool at Alison’s ridiculously amazing home was the set used in Footlight Parade. The “By a Waterfall” set in Footlight Parade: A close-up of the set just in front of the fountain as it appeared in Female: They added some wacky art deco statues of nekked mens and some plants to the fountain, but that’s the same pool all right. You can see it on this segment of Female on YouTube here, starting at 1:55. Meanwhile, one of those wacky art deco men crashed a Corrine Griffith photo shoot: Thank you once again, The Secret Life of Objects, for making movies even more fun than they already are.  

Marie Prevost Project #2: A Scoundrel’s Toll (1916) and others

For anyone interested in using these posts as research, please read the note at the bottom of the page. Thank you. *** Note: The pictures that originally came with this post were lost in a server move. They will be eventually restored. Thanks! *** We just visited “Those Bitter Sweets,” allegedly Marie’s first film. Was it? Hell if I know. This #2 post in the Project is the first of probably several posts where I can do nothing but list a bunch of Marie’s films that aren’t readily available or are lost, so take a seat and buckle yourselves in. It’s gonna be a long one. I would like to note briefly that someone in 2008 copied the IMDb listing for Marie here, and you’ll see “The Locked Door” (1929) isn’t listed. As I mentioned before, when I started this project in 2008, that mistake was not on the IMDb. I’m sure someone saw the film on TCM when it showed in late 2008, thought Betty Bronson was Marie Prevost, and added her as “roomate” (sic) because Bronson’s character was indeed William “Stage” Boyd’s roommate and sister in the film. Now that it’s there, I can’t seem to get the IMDb to remove it. This is something I’ve talked about before, and I’m repeating myself for a reason: This is the perfect example to illustrate why this project is so difficult. There is precious little about Marie available and what’s out there is often wrong. This is especially true about … Continue reading

Marie Prevost Project #1: Those Bitter Sweets (1915)

For anyone interested in using these posts for research, please read the note at the bottom of the page. Thank you. This post originally appeared at and a copy can still be found at the Internet Archive here. *** Sharp-eyed readers will note that this is titled Marie Prevost Project #1 when we’ve already had Project #1.  Starting now, I will be going through Marie Prevost films for the Project in chronological order, including those films of hers that do not survive or that I do not have copies of, and as such I’m numbering the posts chronologically. Previous posts in the Project will eventually be renumbered to reflect the correct order. If you want a refresher on the Marie Prevost Project, start here. We live in a great time, my friends. Too many silents are lost — most of them, actually — yet through the miracle of home video and cable television, we have access to thousands of the titles that still exist. It’s because of this that I was lucky enough to discover that both Marie’s first and last films still survive and, surprisingly, are readily available. According to Charles Foster’s excellent Stardust and Shadows: Canadians in Early Hollywood, Marie moved with the family to Almeda, California, at age 6. At 14, she graduated from high school and went to work in a law firm. The story sister Peg told decades later was that Marie, a 17-year-old law secretary, delivered law papers to Mack Sennett Studios one … Continue reading

Booty Bumps Through the Ages

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Happy Birthday Marie Prevost

Marie Prevost Born November 8, 1898 in Sarnia, Ontario

Bette Davis Project #11: The Girl From 10th Avenue (1935)

The Girl from 10th Avenue (1935) is one of those quickie Warner Bros programmers that at times rises above its mediocre goals. But many of these Warner Bros weeklies do, truth be told, and between cost-cutting and bored actors, so many of these films just do not impress. Bette Davis is Miriam, a shop girl who happens to be standing outside the church where a fabulous society wedding between Valentine French and John Marland is taking place. Also standing in the mob outside is Geoff Sherwood, the lawyer that Valentine threw off so she could marry the rich John Marland. He’s drunk and belligerent and, when the cops decide maybe they should take him in, Miriam grabs him and steers him to a spaghetti restaurant, away from the cops. There Geoff decides he needs looking after, so he offers her $100 to watch him for a week. She tells him to go to hell at first, but eventually relents. Next thing they know, they’re married. Geoff doesn’t recall the marriage (booze) and Miriam considers just leaving and annulling the marriage (common sense), but to help get him sober, they agree to stay together with the caveat that either can leave at any time. Geoff rebuilds his career while Miriam works on becoming socially acceptable, as though she was ever crude and awful and unacceptable in the first place. But okay, let’s go with it. Miriam becomes fashionable and sophisticated:   Fabulous much?   Of course, this happens just as Valentine … Continue reading

I Love Fall

…and so does Bette.