Starring Bette Davis

Starring Bette Davis

20 Episodes

With her live-wire intensity, acerbic delivery, and striking saucer eyes, Bette Davis was a force of nature who dominated the screen with her fearless portrayals of complex, often defiantly unsympathetic characters. After showing flashes of brilliance in pre-Code gems like THREE ON A MATCH and CABIN IN THE COTTON, she got her star-making breakthrough in OF HUMAN BONDAGE, netting a write-in Oscar nomination for her volcanic performance as a tempestuous cockney working girl. As the undisputed queen of the Warner Bros. lot from the midthirties to the early forties, she displayed dazzling versatility in a string of iconic roles: a strong-willed Southern belle in JEZEBEL (for which she won her second Academy Award), a dying socialite in the three-tissue tearjerker DARK VICTORY, a murderous femme fatale in the feverish noir THE LETTER, and a repressed spinster-gone-glam in the melodrama motherlode NOW, VOYAGER. As showcases for her electrifying, larger-than-life screen presence, these films don’t just star Bette Davis—they can barely contain her.

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Starring Bette Davis
  • Starring Bette Davis Teaser

    Episode 1

  • Farran Smith Nehme on Bette Davis

    Episode 2

  • Three on a Match

    Episode 3

    Directed by Mervyn LeRoy • 1932 • United States
    Starring Bette Davis, Joan Blondell, Warren William

    Bette Davis, Joan Blondell, and Ann Dvorak star as three grammar school friends who remain close even as they grow into very different women in this pre-Code drama. Ten years after graduating, har...

  • Hell's House

    Episode 4

    Directed by Howard Higgin • 1932 • United States
    Starring Bette Davis, Pat O’Brien, Junior Durkin

    Independently produced by Bennie Zeidman, this pre-Code melodrama captured Bette Davis and Pat O’Brien just before they were catapulted to stardom at Warner Bros. An exposé of the American penal sys...

  • The Cabin in the Cotton

    Episode 5

    Directed by Michael Curtiz • 1932 • United States
    Starring Bette Davis, Richard Barthelmess, Dorothy Jordan

    “I’d love to kiss you, but I just washed my hair.” Academy Award winner Bette Davis stars as the beautiful southerner whose love allows an idealistic son of sharecroppers to escape his squ...

  • Of Human Bondage

    Episode 6

    Directed by John Cromwell • 1934 • United States
    Starring Leslie Howard, Bette Davis, Frances Dee

    Bette Davis rose from the ranks of Warner Bros. contract players to become a screen superstar when she was loaned out to RKO to appear in John Cromwell’s adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham’s OF HUMAN...

  • Front Page Woman

    Episode 7

    Directed by Michael Curtiz • 1935 • United States
    Starring Bette Davis, George Brent, Roscoe Karns

    Extra! Extra! Laugh all about it! Bette Davis and George Brent star in this comic battle of the sexes filled with good-natured rivalry and romance. Reporters Ellen Garfield (Davis) and Curt Devlin ...

  • The Petrified Forest

    Episode 8

    Directed by Archie Mayo • 1937 • United States
    Starring Bette Davis, Leslie Howard, Humphrey Bogart

    A run-down diner bakes in the Arizona heat. Inside, fugitive killer Duke Mantee sweats out a manhunt, holding disillusioned writer Alan Squier, young Gabby Maple and a handful of others hostage. A...

  • Kid Galahad

    Episode 9

    Directed by Michael Curtiz • 1937 • United States
    Starring Bette Davis, Edward G. Robinson, Humphrey Bogart

    Edward G. Robinson, Bette Davis, and Humphrey Bogart star in this hard-edged exposé of the boxing underworld. Robinson is the enterprising boxing promoter who endeavors to turn a promising...

  • Marked Woman

    Episode 10

    Directed by Lloyd Bacon • 1937 • United States
    Starring Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart, Lola Lane

    No one rats on mobster Johnny Vanning. That’s the message delivered to every would-be stoolie when Vanning’s henchmen slash a gangland insignia on Mary Dwight’s face. The real-life saga of sex workers...

  • Jezebel
    1:44:11
    Episode 11

    Jezebel

    Episode 11

    Directed by William Wyler • 1938 • United States
    Starring Bette Davis, Henry Fonda, George Brent

    While movie fans were abuzz over who might play Scarlett O’Hara in the upcoming GONE WITH THE WIND, Bette Davis got another southern-belle role—and gave a fiery performance that won the Academy Award...

  • Dark Victory

    Episode 12

    Directed by Edmund Goulding • 1939 • United States
    Starring Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart, George Brent

    Bette Davis’s bravura, moving-but-never-morbid performance as Judith Traherne, a dying heiress determined to find happiness in her few remaining months, remains a three-hankie classic. But that...

  • The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex

    Episode 13

    Directed by Michael Curtiz • 1939 • United States
    Starring Bette Davis, George Brent, Miriam Hopkins

    Bette Davis and Errol Flynn made THE PRIVATE LIVES OF ELIZABETH AND ESSEX fascinatingly public, striking sparks in this lavish Technicolor tale of the ill-fated love between the aging Elizabeth ...

  • The Old Maid

    Episode 14

    Directed by Edmund Goulding • 1939 • United States
    Starring Bette Davis, George Brent, Miriam Hopkins

    “She’s just a sour old maid who hates me because I’m young and attractive and in love!” Headstrong, beautiful Tina has nothing but disdain for her Aunt Charlotte. What could she know of a young ...

  • The Letter

    Episode 15

    Directed by William Wyler • 1940 • United States
    Starring Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall, James Stephenson

    Six years after exploding to stardom in OF HUMAN BONDAGE, Bette Davis equaled that excitement with another W. Somerset Maugham role as an adulteress using her sexual wiles to escape a murder...

  • The Little Foxes

    Episode 16

    Directed by William Wyler • 1941 • United States
    Starring Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall, Teresa Wright

    Lillian Hellman’s venomous stage play gets a sterling adaptation courtesy of William Wyler and Bette Davis. She’s at her icy, commanding best as the scheming matriarch of an old-money southern ...

  • Now, Voyager

    Episode 17

    Directed by Irving Rapper • 1942 • United States
    Starring Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains

    Nervous spinster Charlotte Vale (Bette Davis) is stunted from growing up under the heel of her puritanical Boston Brahmin mother (Gladys Cooper), and remains convinced of her own unworthiness until ...

  • In This Our Life

    Episode 18

    Directed by John Huston • 1942 • United States
    Starring Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, George Brent, Dennis Morgan

    What Stanley Timberlake wants, she takes. So, on the eve of her marriage to another, she runs off with her sister’s husband, the first of many betrayals that lead to disaster—and...

  • The Man Who Came to Dinner

    Episode 19

    Directed by William Keighley • 1942 • United States
    Starring Bette Davis, Ann Sheridan, Monty Woolley

    Famed author Sheridan Whiteside possesses a tongue dipped in venom and a brain that can crack a “New York Times” crossword in four minutes. On a lecture tour in Ohio, he slips on the ice and is ...

  • Mr. Skeffington

    Episode 20

    Directed by Vincent Sherman • 1944 • United States
    Starring Bette Davis, Claude Rains, Walter Abel

    An imperious, Oscar-nominated Bette Davis dominates this lush, high-gloss melodrama. She stars as the vain society woman Fanny Trellis who, in order to pay her brother’s gambling debts, enters into...