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Bette Davis: A Basically Benevolent Volcano 

A documentary about and an interview with Hollywood actress Bette Davis about her life and career from the late 1920s to the 1980s on stage and mostly before the camera.


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Episode credited cast:
Bette Davis ... Herself
Ian Holm ... Narrator (voice)
Geraldine Fitzgerald ... Herself
Anne Baxter ... Herself
Olivia de Havilland ... Herself
Joseph L. Mankiewicz ... Himself (as Joseph Mankiewicz)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
George Arliss ... (archive footage)
Richard Barthelmess ... (archive footage)
Humphrey Bogart ... (archive footage)
George Brent ... Himself (archive footage)
Charles Coburn ... (archive footage)
Joseph Cotten ... (archive footage)
Henry Fonda ... (archive footage)
Paul Henreid ... (archive footage)
Robert Montgomery ... (archive footage)


A documentary about and an interview with Hollywood actress Bette Davis about her life and career from the late 1920s to the 1980s on stage and mostly before the camera.

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Release Date:

2 November 1983 (UK) See more »

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Technical Specs


(TCM print)

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Did You Know?


Olivia de Havilland: Bette Davis is a basically benevolent volcano.
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User Reviews

An entertaining look at the life of a legend
17 June 2005 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

I must admit before my critique that I have a bias. It's because of Bette Davis that I fell in love with film. The movie was "Dark Victory," and I only saw Part 1 on television, but it was enough. When I went to college, I was able to see many of her greatest films with my friends, and those movies stand side by side with some wonderful memories.

Before her debilitating stroke, Bette Davis gave a highly entertaining interview which is incorporated into this British documentary. The portions in which she discusses her life and career are the best parts. The film clips are so grainy as to be distracting. Besides Davis, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Anne Baxter, Olivia de Havilland, and Joseph Mankiewicz are interviewed. The funniest section is Davis' description of making the dreadful Beyond the Forest, about an unhappy woman who wants to get away from the husband and the town in which she lives. "My husband," she says, "should have been Eugene Palette, a big fat character actor. Instead it was Joseph Cotten. Now, who could leave Joseph Cotten?" Davis states she was too old for the character, but doesn't add some other problems (besides the script): the character's name was Rosa Moline, so she had to wear a black wig. She also had to walk on hills and rocks wearing high heels. Age was the least of her problems.

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