“I have been uncompromising, peppery, intractable, monomaniacal, tactless, volatile, and oftentimes disagreeable. I suppose I’m larger than life.”
( Bette Davis )
Bette Davis is one of the most prominent figures from Hollywood’s golden age. In a career that spanned sixty years, Davis received a total of ten Academy Award nominations, and went on to win two of those Oscars for her roles in Dangerous ( 1935 ) and Jezebel ( 1938 ). This however is not including the write-in nomination she had attained in 1935 for her groundbreaking performance in Of Human Bondage, the previous year.
For most actresses in Hollywood, getting nominated for an Academy Award is not something that is easily achieved. In some cases it has taken years of hard work and financial struggle before finally being recognized, while others have endured a successful tenure in motion pictures without being nominated for a single performance, but for Bette Davis, who was noted for her fierce determination and her indomitable spirit, garnering an Oscar nomination seemed to be an easy feat.
Bette Davis was unlike any other actress who adorned the silver screen. She was volatile. She was feisty. She was uncompromising, but most of all, she was her own person with a willful spirit and headstrong personality who pioneered her way through each film with her own scripted brand of artistry.
Once discovering Bette Davis for the first time, it is easy to determine that she was a powerful force who couldn’t be reckoned with. In an illustrious filmography that consisted of 124 acting credits, Davis never expressed her limits as an actress. She was always willing to take on challenging roles that displayed her potential as an actress, and she was never shy to appear unglamorous and grotesque looking when a movie called for it. At a time when many stars feared the idea of portraying a villainous character, Davis was always the first one to jump at the chance. She relished the fact that she could unleash those claws by playing an immoral person with evil instincts on screen. It is no wonder that Bette Davis broke the world record by acquiring ten Oscar nominations.
Below is a list of the Academy Award nominated films of Bette Davis, including those that earned her the Oscar.
“To fulfill a dream, to be allowed to sweat over lonely labor, to be given a chance to create, is the meat and potatoes of life. The money is the gravy.”
( Bette Davis )
DANGEROUS ( 1935 )
Bette Davis received the Academy Award for her role as Joyce Heath in Dangerous, a solid drama that revolves around the story of alcoholism and the damaging effects it has on an actress who was once a glorious star with an unparalleled stature.
JEZEBEL ( 1938 )
Some say it resembles Gone With The End, and it certainly does have its similarities, but in Jezebel, Bette Davis proved that she was more than capable of portraying a Southern Belle whose tenacious spirit and imperious nature fuels altercations that lead to disaster between her and her fiance, Preston Dillard ( Henry Fonda )
DARK VICTORY ( 1939 )
Many people, including myself consider Dark Victory to be Bette’s greatest film. Here she plays Judith Traherne, a young vehement Long Island socialite whose passion for horses and parties is a never-ending daily activity, but things take a drastic turn when Judith discovers that she is gravely ill with an incurable brain tumor, which will eventually lead to blindness and death.
THE LETTER ( 1940 )
Made at the commencement of the Film Noir period, Bette Davis gave an electrifying introduction to the genre when she portrayed Leslie Crosbie, the wife of a rubber plantation administrator who kills a man and pleads with authorities that it was self defense, but once they discover a letter, Leslie becomes the subject of further questioning.
THE LITTLE FOXES ( 1941 )
Set in the deep south at the turn of the century, the film tells the story of Regina Giddens ( Bette Davis ) the ruthless and villainous wife of Horace Giddens ( Herbert Marshall ) who is suffering from a terminal illness. After years of struggling financially, Regina becomes desperate for money, and starts manipulating those around her to help assist her in some scheme she is concocting.
NOW VOYAGER ( 1942 )
Bette Davis illuminates the screen with her portrayal of Charlotte Vale, a depressed woman who lives a life of brutal domination. With a lack of self-esteem, and constantly feeling restrained and despondent over the tyrannical rulings and controlling ways of her mother, Charlotte enters a sanatorium, and is sent away on a lengthy cruise, where she is transformed into an elegant, sophisticated young girl of society.
MR. SKEFFINGTON ( 1944 )
The film revolves around the story of embezzlement, self sacrifices and one-sided relationships. Bette Davis plays Fanny Trellis Skeffington, a majestic beauty whose trapped in a loveless marriage with a Jewish banker in order to save her brother from financial ruin.
ALL ABOUT EVE ( 1950 )
Fasten your seatbelts, its going to be a bumpy night. In her most memorable film, Bette Davis plays, Margo Channing, a successful stage actress whose career is eclipsed by the manipulating, Eve Harrington ( Anne Baxter ) a woman with a facade of innocence who conjures up a destructive plan to steal parts and relationships and threaten the profession of Margo Channing.
THE STAR ( 1952 )
The Star is not a well known film, but it features a laudable performance from Bette Davis who takes on the central role of Margaret Elliot, a washed up former movie star who wants to resurrect her career, but is plagued with difficulties that descends her further into alcoholism.
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? ( 1962 )
At a time when most stars of her caliber were facing a career lapse, Bette Davis received her final Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of Baby Jane Hudson, a former child star whose fame was eclipsed in later years by her sister, Blanche Hudson ( Joan Crawford ). Decades later the two are living together in a decaying Hollywood mansion. Plagued with resentment and sibling rivalry, Jane torments and abuses Blanche who is now confined to a wheelchair.
OF HUMAN BONDAGE ( 1934 )
The Academy doesn’t consider this as a nomination, but an array of sources state that Bette Davis’ groundbreaking performance as Mildred Rogers, the cockney waitress who spurns Philip, a medical student who is attracted to her in Of Human Bondage is worthy of a place on the nomination list. Bette Davis did however garner a write-in nomination for her role in the film the following year.
In addition to her ten Academy Award nominations, Bette Davis attained a myriad of other awards and nominations for her impressive contribution to motion pictures. After many years of continual success in the entertainment industry, Davis received the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1977. Sadly Bette Davis passed away on October 6th, 1989. Almost twenty seven years since her passing, Bette Davis is remembered for her enduring legacy that has left an indelible mark on cinema history.
This post was written for the 2016 TCM Summer Under The Stars Blogathon, hosted by Journeys In Classic Film. Everyday in August a certain star is honored. Today, August 21st, is being dedicated to Bette Davis.