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Culture Corner: Bette Davis – American Greatness

The Hollywood legacy of Bette Davis.

Bette Davis is perhaps the greatest American actress in cinematic history. How can that be disputed?

Davis’ career began with several disappointing pre-code pictures, landing roles that filled up only a few minutes of screen time, despite possessing a unique look and the thespian knack. She got her first big break in the decent 1932 Michael Curtiz film, The Cabin in the Cotton. Davis followed it up with a co-starring role in the great pre-code movie Three On A Match.

From then on, it was more home runs than strikeouts for Davis. By the time the Golden Age of Cinema faded to black, Davis starred in some of the greatest pictures of all time: All About Eve, Dark Victory, Marked Woman, The Petrified Forest, and Of Human Bondage.

But there was one thing that Davis had that many of her peers did not: The one-liner. She had a talent for delivering lines and turning them into some of the greatest words ever written on an Old Hollywood typewriter on the lot of Warner Bros. Here are just some of them:

“I’d kiss you, but I just washed my hair.” – The Cabin in the Cotton

“And after ya kissed me, I always used to wipe my mouth! Wipe my mouth!” – Of Human Bondage

What a dump.” – Beyond the Forest (thank Elizabeth Taylor for that one)

“Do you mind very much, Mr. Shane, taking off your hat in the presence of a lady with a gun?” – Satan Met a Lady

“Nothing can hurt us now. What we have can’t be destroyed. That’s our victory… our victory over the dark.” – Dark Victory

“Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.” – All About Eve

“Don’t get up. And please stop acting as if I were the queen mother.” – All About Eve

Bette Davis was a national treasure. Old Hollywood can have Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, and Joan Crawford. But there will only ever be one Bette Davis.

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