10 Best Bette Davis Movies

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NOTORIOUS for her chain-smoking and sharp wit, Hollywood queen Bette Davis made nearly 100 movies.

She was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and received two.

Bette Davis won two Oscars

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Bette Davis won two OscarsCredit: Alamy

Born in 1908, her career began in the 1930s when spoken parts were only just being introduced to films.

She made at least 46 movies.

Bette died of breast cancer in France in 1989 while returning to Hollywood from a film festival.

Here we’ve selected ten of her best movies.

1. All About Eve

Bette Davis as Margo Channing opposite her husband Gary Merrill in All About Eve

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Bette Davis as Margo Channing opposite her husband Gary Merrill in All About EveCredit: Alamy

Bette Davis is best known for playing Margo Channing in this 1950 Hollywood classic by the director Joseph L. Mankiewicz.

Apparently warm-hearted, Margo sneakily manoeuvres her way into the friendship circle of an unsuspecting older star.

Davis, who starred alongside Anne Baxter, George Sanders, her husband Gary Merrill and Celeste Holm, was nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal of Margo.

The movie contains Davis’ famous line “Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night”.

Rotten Tomatoes audience score – 94%.

2. Jezebel

Bette Davis won an Oscar for her performance as Julie Marsden in Jezebel

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Bette Davis won an Oscar for her performance as Julie Marsden in JezebelCredit: Alamy

Davis won the Best Actress Oscar for her role in this William Wyler romantic thriller of 1938.

A red-dress social faux pas leaves Davis’ character Julie Marsden shattered when her banker fiance leaves her.

The film documents her life of isolation and desperation as she tries to win him back from his new wife amid a creeping yellow fever epidemic.

Henry Fonda co-stars as Preston Dillard, her sought-after love.

Rotten Tomatoes audience score – 82%.

3. What Ever Happened To Baby Jane

Joan Crawford, left, and Bette Davis in What Ever Happened To Baby Jane

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Joan Crawford, left, and Bette Davis in What Ever Happened To Baby JaneCredit: Alamy

Davis moved towards horror movies like this one by Robert Aldrich in the latter part of her career.

Here she co-stars with Joan Crawford, who she famously fell out with, as an older ex-actress terrorising her paraplegic sister, with whom she is trapped in a mansion.

Davis was nominated for an Oscar for this 1962 blockbuster where two fiercely strong women fight it out.

Davis is said to have created her own make up to play Baby Jane Hudson.

Rotten Tomatoes audience rating – 92% .

4. The Letter

Bette Davis stars as Leslie Crosbie in The Letter

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Bette Davis stars as Leslie Crosbie in The LetterCredit: Getty – Contributor

This film came in the era where Davis challenged perceptions of women with her feisty performances.

Her calm but trigger-happy character Leslie Crosbie undergoes a complicated legal trial after she switches lacemaking for love making and it all goes wrong.

Herbert Marshall plays Leslie’s unloved and eventually penniless husband in this 1940 William Wyler movie.

Rotten Tomatoes audience rating – 82% .

5. Dangerous

Bette Davis, who won an Oscar for playing Joyce, holds hands with American actor Franchot Tone in Dangerous

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Bette Davis, who won an Oscar for playing Joyce, holds hands with American actor Franchot Tone in DangerousCredit: Handout – Getty

Davis won her first Oscar for her role as hard-as-nails Joyce Heath, in what was one of her earliest movies.

Directed by Alfred E. Green and co-staring Franchot Tone and Margaret Lindsay, the plot follows a dangerous alcoholic actress who appears to be rehabilitated. But is she?

This film is one of five for Davis in 1935. It treads the paths of complicated love-swaps and break-ups, failures and fame.

Rotten Tomatoes audience rating – 62%

6. Of Human Bondage

Artwork for Bette Davis film Of Human Bondage

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Artwork for Bette Davis film Of Human BondageCredit: Moviepix – Getty

It is said Davis loved playing the role of villainous waitress Mildred Rogers in this 1934 film directed by John Cromwell.

She received a write-in Oscar nomination for Of Human Bondage, which showed her raw talent and great screen presence.

Artist Philip Carey, played by Leslie Howard, falls in love with Mildred who mocks the disabled man for his interest in her.

Later she ruins his life by returning to him with another man’s child she doesn’t want, but eventually he is free.

Bette Davis made no less than six films in this year.

Rotten Tomatoes audience rating – 69%.

7. Death On The Nile

Bette Davis with Maggie Smith in Death On The Nile

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Bette Davis with Maggie Smith in Death On The NileCredit: Alamy

Although Davis stars alongside many others in this film, she was in her 70s when it was released in 1978.

Playing Marie Van Schuyler, she features alongside Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot, in this adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel.

True to Christie form, the film features love and murder, and – rare for a movie at the time – is set on a paddle steamer.

Maggie Smith, Mia Farrow, Angela Lansbury, David Niven, George Kennedy and Jack Warren also star in this Oscar-winning picture.

Rotten Tomatoes audience rating – 78%

8. The Man Who Played God

Donald Cook starred in The Man Who Played God alongside Bette Davis

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Donald Cook starred in The Man Who Played God alongside Bette DavisCredit: Alamy

Directed by John G. Adolfi in 1932, this is widely touted as Davis’ breakthrough movie role.

She plays Grace Blair alongside her mentor George Arliss in this heart-warming and tear-jerking love story.

A famous pianist who becomes completely deaf spends his life helping others, including his much younger fiancee, who cheats on him.

The Man Who Played God also goes by the name The Silent Voice.

However, the film did not go down well on Rotten Tomatoes, with an audience rating of just 38%.

9. The Whales Of August

Bette Davis as Libby Strong in The Whales Of August

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Bette Davis as Libby Strong in The Whales Of AugustCredit: Alamy

Made in 1987, just two years before Davis died, this film still contains her fire and attitude as she plays the aptly named Libby Strong.

Lillian Gish plays the other elderly sister, where the pair, both widowed, seek to chill out in a seaside getaway.

But their memories of the past are marred with bitterness and cold rebuffs as they recall their past struggles and wrestle with new ones.

Rotten Tomatoes audience rating – 66%.

10. The Catered Affair

Debbie Reynolds and Bette Davis in The Catered Affair

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Debbie Reynolds and Bette Davis in The Catered AffairCredit: Alamy

Davis stars as disillusioned housewife Mrs Agnes Hurley alongside Ernest Borgnine playing her husband Tom.

The 1956 movie centres on a dispute over the cost of the wedding party for her daughter Jane, played by Debbie Reynolds.

It requires all the money her taxi-driver husband has been saving for a cab, and drags in a whole neighbourhood.

Directed by Richard Brooks, it has a Rotten Tomatoes audience rating of 70%.

Trailer for the award winning drama: Feud starring Bette Davis and Joan Crawford

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