"Everybody has a heart. Except some people."
I believe All About Eve to be a perfect film, with not a wasted piece of dialogue or an unnecessary scene. It is one of the greatest films about theatre of all time. For me, Margo Channing is the finest & bravest Bette Davis creation (she lost the Oscar to Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday).
For me, Davis was a movie star, but also the most fearless & the least vain actresses of the Golden Age. I am fan of all her 6 decades of work on stage, & on film with Of Human Bondage, The Petrified Forest, Jezebel, The Old Maid, Elizabeth & Essex, The Letter, All This & Heaven Too, The Little Foxes, Old Acquaintance, Pocket Full Of Miracles, & What Ever Happened To Baby Jane among my favorites.
Besides Margo Channing, my favorite would have to be Bette’s work in 1987’s The Whales of August, featuring an understated Vincent Price, a rare & delicate late career performance by the great Lillian Gish, whose career stretched back to the films of D.W. Griffith, & Ann Sothern in her only Oscar nominated performance. But for me the true enjoyment of this film came from seeing Bette Davis do again what Bette Davis always could do: create an indelible, complex character & command every scene in which she appears.
When she was filming Whales of August, the cast & crew were having dinner when Davis started complaining about Joan Crawford. Cast member Harry Carey Jr, became unhappy & told Davis that Crawford had been his friend & that he didn't want to hear anything negative about her. Davis, without missing a beat, responded, "Just because a person's dead doesn't mean they changed."
Davis bickered with her directors over the smallest details, & had a reputation for being difficult to work with. Still, she was so beloved by audiences that she was in great demand, & is one of the few actors in history who worked until the very end of her life, making well over a 100 films. She would dare us to hate her, & we often did, which is why we loved her.
Warner Brothers treated Davis badly for many years, & they paid her far less than other stars. She sued the company & lost, but the court case gave her much valuable publicity. She was able to create a new persona for herself on her own terms, as a strong-willed independent thinker, as strong as any man.
Bette Davis has been an icon for generations of gay men. She helped them learn that with wit, style & camp, it is possible to transcend the hard, unhappy, hateful & often humiliating world that was given to us.