- Acting of Lead Performers
- Acting of Supporting Cast
- Music Score
- Title Sequence
- Historical Importance
- Would You Recommend?
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Horrahs for Television Airing This Film
I was just programming the DVR to record the classics that are coming on throughout this month. Behold! The final made for television movie of Bette Davis (which is this one) is actually going to be broadcast. What am I so celebratory? That is easy to convey; this movie has been so obscured, made so unavailable and is so rarely shown that few people realize how good it is. Maybe networks believe that we, the public, are too fragile to deal with cancer. It's clear that Bette Davis (as Hannah Loftin) has already suffered from that dabilitating stroke and is still struggling with cancer. It mattered not to Bette Davis that she was seen after both medical conditions had dramatically changed her appearance. After all, she was no glamour gal who had made her career on always being gorgeous. Remember, Davis broke that mold for women actor. She dared to play parts of wretched women who looked true to everyday life.
Bette Davis' Last TV Movie
The courage and die-hard work ethos of Bette Davis shows the whole while shes's in many scenes of this, her last TV movie. She's the great aunt, Hannah Loftin, of Jamie Lee Curtis' Whitsey Loftin. Curtis and Davis make a terrific acting team. The main theme of this movie is overcoming the racism and greed of Hannah and Whitsey's wealthy family. Davis' character is the one who saves the day in court with her unlikely testimony that consists of around a ten punch knock out. Hannah unleashes both barrells on her family and the judge so that her brother's long term lover, an elderly woman of color, wins the case to keep the land loaded with oil that she'd been given. It's a wonderful movie, well acted, great story, fast paced and splendid Bette Davis fare. Jamie Lee Curtis is extra cute in it too.
Final Made for TV Movie by Bette Davis
I'd loved to have been Jamie Lee Curtis in this TV movie playing the niece (Whitsey Loftin) of Bette Davis (Hannah Loftin). Curtis performs her role beautifully. Davis had just come back to work after recovering from being diagnosed with terminal cancer, surgery for it, and having a stroke 6 days later. Once again, Davis' iron will prevailed to put her back in the lead role in a wonderful teleivision movie. Curtis and Davis make a very touching neice and aunt relationship. But that's not the mainpoint of the plot. Greed is. The Loftin family's attempt to exploit people of color because one of them owns land that was once theirs that's sitting on an oil field. Whitsey has to help her Aunt Hannah overcome senility to be the key witness in the courtroom drama: a trial to determine who owns the land. True to form, 78yo Davis comes into court firing both verbal barrels. That scene is worth the whole film. I own it and hope you will too.
Pro-Bette Davis & Jamie Lee Curtis
As Hannah Loftin, Bette Davis has overcome most of the after-effects of a serious stroke just after having cancer surgery. She's continuing to perform at top intensity, as usual, not missing a beat regardless of now being a person with disabilities. Doing that made her a role model for me: a person with disabilities who is also a senior citizen. Miss Davis was on the cusp of entering her 8th decade of life, as well. Her courtroom performance is rivetting, in this, her final television movie. Jamie Lee Curtis plays in many scenes as Miss davis' niece, Whitsey, as both of them deal with the Holt family's racism, age-ism & able-ism. 1959 Louisanna racism is the foregrounded topic with age & ability issues being more in the background or understated. This TV movie is nevertheless a classic.
Last Bette Davis TV MOVIE (not film)
...and for the 1st Lady of of American Cinema's last made for TV movie, we have Miss Hannah Loftin. A wealthy elderly woman who's sometimes lucid and sometimes a bit senile. The year is 1959. The place is a small, close-minded town in Lousiana where the Holt family, which Hannah belongs to, is trying to push their power around over top of the people of color who've worked the land for generations. When one of the women steps forward with a claim to the property the Holt's want badly, since it's filled with oil and worth a fortune, Miss Hannah steps forward as the only Holt who knows her brother's deeply hidden secret past. Bette Davis gives one of her great television performances when she enters the courtroom to testify on behalf of the woman of color with the land claim. She's as fiesty as can be, tells the judge off and tells everyone else she's going to have her say and that's that! Her testimony exposes the racism and also the biases against people of older ages in one fell swoop. Jamie Lee Curtis is her niece, Whitsey Loftin, and absolutely perfect for her role. In fact, it's wonderful to see her acting with Miss Davis in this, her last TV movie. What an honor for Miss Curtis. This film is easy to find on VHS in 2009.
She Had Another Point To Make
Bette Davis, that is. Known for being candid and outspoken, the 1st Lady of American Cinema, though suffering from breast cancer & stroke after-effects, kept acting because she still had more points to make. In this film, she's Hannah Loftin, the aunt of Whitsey (Jamie Lee Curtis), who's unwell when a controversy in the Holt family arises. Seems that her brother's black lover and mother of his two mixed-race children, has a written claim on land that is loaded with oil that the uppity Holt family wants total control of. It's doubtful that Hannah will be able to testify to the fact that she witnessed by signing the deed to the land for her brother and his lover. If she does, the land will remain with the woman who served the family most of her life. The plot deals with two key issues: Lousianna racism in 1959 & ageism. Davis' character is the one who makes the deepest impression about those wrongs. It's obvious she's ill but that hasn't impaired her legendary acting capacity.
1959 Lousianna Racism's Challenged
After Bette Davis suffered a stroke and had cancer, she continued to perform. This movie was made for TV and co-stars Jamie Lee Curtis as Whitsey Loftin, the niece of an ailing elderly Hannah Loftin (Bette Davis). The verbally violent racism is very blatant. The plot's about a woman of color, Elvira Backus, holding on to her claim on land that Hannah witnessed her brother give to her. The Holt family contends it all belongs to them since they are racist, known there's oil under the acreage and they want it all. If Hannah doesn't go along with their violent scheme to take the land away from Elvira, the Holt's are going to have her declared incompetent. Whitsey tells them all where to go and moves quickly to get a lawyer who'll protect her aunt. The same lawyer who's helping Elivira. Davis's performance is absolutely amazing. She's come back from near death experience to be the major witness for the defense who takes a very strong stand againt her own family's racism. Bette Davis still had some social commentaries to make, obviously.
An Issue We'll All Likely Face
Age-ism. Set in 1959 in a very racist Louisianna town, Hannah Loftin (Bette Davis) becomes the only living person who can verify that an equally elderly woman of color's, Elvira Backus (Beah Richards), home & property were given to her by a wealthy land owner before he died. Whitesy Loftin (Jamie Lee Curtis), the beloved niece of her Aunt Hannah, stand up to the rest of the money grubbing family & beside her aunt when they make a play to illegally destroy the written evidence of property ownership & displace the Mrs. Backus out of her home. Claiming that Hannah Lotin isn't mentally compentent to testify, ownership of Elvira's home & land comes down to Hannah's testimony. Bette Davis was already surviving with cancer after having a serious stroke. Those conditions didn't stop her from going forth with her great acting career. Here again, she delivers yet another rivetting performance even with her classy southern accent. Imagine the stroke side-affects she made herself overcome to even be able to speak let alone put on a southern accent! She's a role model for people of age & with disabilities.
As Summers Die
Still playing impressive, refined and befitting roles for her state of failing health and getting up in age, Bette Davis becomes Hannah Loftis. She's returned to television after a serious stroke and being diagnosed with terminal breast cancer to do so. Miss Loftis is unwell, a tad senile and her niece (played by a very pretty Jamie Lee Curtis who gives a great performance with Davis), is taking care of her. But, the rest of her freedy family has plans to underpay an elderly woman of color for property given to her by their father and if Miss Loftis doesn't go along with them, they will have her committed to an institution as incompetent. Her niece is going to do everything within her power to prevent both things from happening. This movie is well worth watching many times. Davis' performance is as remarkable as ever, if not moreso, considering the state of her health that she's having to work through.
One of Bette Davis' Last Three Movies
Unless I've missed the mark, I believe this made for TV movie is the third to last of Bette Davis' major performances. She plays an important role as an elderly woman of wealth of the prestigous Holt family. She sides with an elderly woman of color who has a claim on property the Holt family believes belongs to them. Hannah (Davis) disagrees with the Holts, deals with her mental competance being questioned, takes on money, age, and race biases. This is no junk role. Davis has returned from cancer & a stroke to perform as always: stellar. For this reason, this movie should be viewed as important to Davis' filmmaking history.
The energizer Bette, kept going
With what seemed like insurmountable health crises, Bette Davis overcame them to keep acting with the same intensity for which she'd become famous. She's Hannah Loftis, an elderly heiress whose family's estate's challenged by an elderly woman of color. True to Bette Davis' tradition of taking choice roles in order to convey socially valuable messages, her character sides with the woman of color. Although her own family's questioning her compentence, due to their greed & her age, Hannah takes a bold stand for what's right. 78yo & still leading as memorable characters of high quality & social value.
78yo Bette Davis Deals With Racism
After miraculously recovering from a near fatal stroke, with obvious after-effects showing, Bette Davis returns to play a key role in this film. As one elderly woman of wealth for another elderly woman of color, he character, Hannah, stands with the woman who lays claim on part of Hannah's family's property while her own competency is being legally challenged. Bette Davis still have key social issues that she wanted to deal with in a public way. Davis' performance is extraordinary and this film is superb. It is available to buy on VHS.
Bette Davis' Will to Recover & Perform
On June 9th, 1983 Bette Davis had a mastectomy due to breast cancer. On June 18th, 1983, she suffered as stroke that put her survival in serious doubt. By 1986, Davis' iron will to make a very tough recovery & return to perform in films was realized in the form of this film. She takes on the role of Hannah Holt Loftis, a women of wealth who supports an elderly black woman's claim that some of the Holt clan's land belongs to her. Hannah does so while her own mental competence is being scrutinized. Miss Davis came back to the screen to deal with racism & ageism through this film; unashamed to be seen with stroke after-effects. True to form!