See Those Bette Davis Eyes Again and Again

Bette Davis, left, and Marilyn Monroe in
Bette Davis, left, and Marilyn Monroe in "All About Eve." Two box sets of Davis films are out now. (Fox Home Entertainment)
By Curt Fields
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 11, 2008

The great Bette Davis has been quoted as saying, "I don't take the movies seriously, and anyone who does is in for a headache." If she was right, two new box sets featuring her work might provoke migraines. Fortunately, there's nothing painful about watching "The Bette Davis Collection" from Fox and "The Bette Davis Collection, Volume 3" from Warner Bros.

"The Bette Davis Collection" has a two-disc special edition "All About Eve" (1950), "The Virgin Queen" (1955), "Phone Call From a Stranger" (1952), "Hush . . . Hush, Sweet Charlotte" (1964) and "The Nanny" (1965).

All five have enjoyable bonus features. "All About Eve," which won six Oscars, includes commentary by actress Celeste Holm and Ken Geist (biographer of writer-director Joseph L. Mankiewicz), vintage clips from the film's premiere and various award ceremonies. These are entertaining glimpses of the past. You can't help watching and comparing the styles and attitudes of the past with those of today's Hollywood. Along with most of the other films in the collection, "All About Eve" includes a restoration comparison that highlights how the films have been improved.

The set is $49.98, or you can get individual films for $19.98 each.

Warner's set features abundant extras for its films from earlier in the legendary star's career: "In This Our Life" (1942), "The Old Maid" (1939), "All This, and Heaven Too" (1940), "The Great Lie" (1941), "Deception" (1946) and "Watch on the Rhine" (1943).

Along with commentary for some of the films, the DVD collection makes an effort to re-create the moviegoing experience from that time. Along with the films are newsreels, cartoons and movie trailers typical of what screened with the original theatrical release. It's a fun concept. (Older people may find it an especially good way to connect with their grandkids and an opening for discussing what life was like when they were young.)

The "Volume 3" box set is available for $59.92.

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