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Way Back Home(1931)

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Way Back Home (1931)

When she made her fourth film, there was still no such thing as a Bette Davis picture. So, rather than playing the kind of feverishly self-determined woman that would become her trademark, she played a simple farm girl in love with a young man (Frank Albertson) whose mother is considered the town's fallen woman. That's just one of the plots in this adaptation of Phillips Lord's popular radio series Sunday Evening at Seth Parker's. Lord had parlayed his simple stories of an old New England preacher (played by Lord while still in his twenties) into a radio series, books and a movie. The film's real focus was on Lord's adopted son (Frankie Darro), whose abusive father wants the child back and at one point even threatens Davis. RKO invested a surprisingly high sum for the time, $400,000, in hopes that Lord's devoted radio audience would follow him into theatres. They even put Max Steiner, later one of Davis's major collaborators, on the film's score and turned the cinematography over to J. Roy Hunt, the first cameraman to take time to photograph the future star well. Davis loved the experience, made on loan from Universal, but returned to her home studio to discover she'd been fired.

By Frank Miller

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