I have the theory that movie stars today (male and female) don't want to
play evil characters on the screen - unless they are in superhero movies.
Some of the characters Bette played were so twisted and evil and she never
used the excuse "well they had bad childhoods". I think some of her most
memorable roles are when she is playing completely reprehensible characters.
"Fog Over Frisco" - she played a very bad sister as opposed to Margaret
Lindsay's very good (and boring sister) - she forces her fiancee (Lyle Talbot) to
become a criminal and ends up .... we won't go there.
"In This Our Life" - her character Stanley, not only jilts her fiancee (George Brent)
but runs off with her sister, Roy (Olivia De Havilland) husband. Her partying ways
force him to resign as a doctor (he is starting to get the shakes!!), she is involved
in a hit and run (she kills a little girl) and then casually blames a young black
man who is studying to be a lawyer!!! ... and is completely unrepentant.
"The Letter" is an amazing study in the evilness that lies under the respectability
of devoted wife??? Leslie Crosbie.
"The Little Foxes" - In this film Bette Davis stars as Regina Giddons, head of the
the despicable Giddons clan. When she cannot get money from her husband
(the minute he comes home from a sanatorium after recovering from a heart
attack) she causes him to suffer a another attack and with holds his medicine
from him. This is a magnificent film - pitting evil (the Giddens clan) against good
(all the poor people that happen to be married to them). The person that really
stands out for me is Patricia Collinge as Birdie who is married to Regina's cruel
brother Oscar. The scenes between her and Herbert Marshall (he sees the way
she is treated but is powerless to do anything because of his illness) are really
I don't think there would have been many actors even in those times that would have put their career on the line to play such thoroughly bad characters as Bette Davis.