Although we focus on films themselves, we also look in some instances at books and music devoted to classic Hollywood as well. And the numbers sort of show that you’d like us to stay more on the films, which we will with the random related review.
So, much like the movies we select, so go the books. I picked up a copy of The Girl Who Walked Home Alone: Bette Davis – A Personal Biography, by Charlotte Chandler. It is only a few years old and is based on hours of taped conversations the author had with the legendary actress herself. Ms. Chandler has also written a fair amount of other works in the same genre, including ones on Groucho Marx and Joan Fontaine.
Given the author’s extensive time with Bette herself, I thought this might be a pretty good read. It is if your knowledge of Davis’ extensive filmography is somewhat limited. Personally I didn’t find much new inside. There are a few good stories and tidbits of information, but they have all been out there before and we wade through a lot of chaff to get to this wheat.
Particularly intrusive were the movie summaries which are scattered throughout- in chronological order throughout the narrative. This would have been much better served as an appendix. As it is, it gives the book a rather disjointed feel- although it does add more than a few pages to the overall length. Except for a few films which I wasn’t familiar with I skipped these. Quite problematic at best.
Ultimately, if you are not overly familiar with Ms. Davis this is an extremely good overview of both her personal and professional life. However, if you know the basics you may find a more detailed and expansive work like Dark Victory: The Life of Bette Davis by Ed Sikov may be more to your speed.
Hard to say avoid the fruits of anyone’s labors, but unless you need every book out there on the subject, you can spend the same – or less – money and get a more insightful look.