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Bette Davis: The Benevolent Volcano

Bette Davis: The Benevolent Volcano(1984)


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  • Fantastic

    • Darleen Kegle
    • 3/15/13

    A wonderful bit of memory lane. I would love to own a DVD.

  • Loaded with Footage of Bette Davis

    • Ashlye
    • 9/4/09

    The main reason that bought this documentary is due to the amount of rare footage of Bette Davis that is in it. What I found most interesting were the many film clips of interviews of her. Although Ian Holms' narrative is poignantand the other interviewees are ones who were important in the life and career of Bette Davis. It is especially reinforcingto hear directly from Olivia de Havillandwho was not only a very good friend of Bette Davis' but also a colleague who worked with Davis in many films & films that proved to be important to both of their acting careers.

  • More Autobiographical than Not

    • Officer1802
    • 9/2/09

    Because there is so much footage of Bette Davis during this biographical documentary, it is more by her rather than about her. That's why I find it to be one of the more credible of these types of films. There are interviews of very major players in Davis' career who were quite well selected and well spoken.Holms' narration is tightly scripted mincing no unnecessary words. I liked it a lot.

  • Entitled by Olivia de Havilland...

    • Thomas_J
    • 9/1/09

    De Havilland & Bette Davis were close colleagues & chums. De Havilland has survived Davis by nearly 20 years, thus far. When this biography was released, Bette Davis was alive at 76 years of age.She is the lead actor of her own biography this time because interview after interview right from the source, herself; film clip after film clip featuring Bette Davis in her many lead roles comprise the bulk of this documentary. With the great exception of a few very knowledgable colleagues, Bette Davis is poised to speak for herself nearly as she did in her written autobiographies. The best of those exceptional colleagues is Olivia de Havilland because she was not only very close to Bette Davis, but she worked in numerous films with "The First Lady of Hollywood" and publicly acknowledged that it was most appropriate that Davis was the 1st woman to receive the AFI's highest award for Lifetime Achievement.

  • Bette Davis on Bette Davis

    • Michelles
    • 8/25/09

    As Ian Holm narrates this film about Bette Davis she is plays the lead in it. As it should be. I have yet to watch another filom about Bette Davis that has more footage of her both acting and speaking about her life and work. Each of the documentaries listed here (which is not a complete list) has its own unique value. This one's value is the amount of footage of Bette Davis telling her own history. It offers quite a comprehensive perspective.

  • Well Done Documentary with Bette Davis

    • SamMcK
    • 8/24/09

    The reason I wrote the word with in this review's title is a reflection upon the content of the film. This biography is not simply ABOUT Bette Davis. There is so much footage of Bette Davis herself the documentary should be viewed as one that was done with her, instead. That is what makes this biography stand out.

  • Thank You, TCM, for Showing this Bio-Doc

    • Zachry
    • 8/23/09

    When it was Bette Davis' turn to have a full 24 hours in August 2009, this was among the media that TCM broadcast. I was so glad because I'd never seen it. It was exciting to listen to Bette Davis herself describing her work and life. The classic film clips braided into the program have inspired me to find more of her movies. Ian Holm narrated with class and expertise. Olivia de Havilland's presence and comments added credibility to the show. Geraldine Fitzgerald makes gives a fine tribute to the type of co-worker she knew and obviously thought of very highly. I learned quite a bit about one of my most well liked actors.

  • A great documentary about Bette Davis

    • pburnsky56
    • 8/22/09

    I thought I have watched all of the documentaries about Bette Davis until TCM broadcasted this one. I was surprisedby Ian Holms' very apt British narration, Olivia de Havilland's definingstatement at the beginning and how much footage of Bette Davis was used to createthis biography. The best part of the showfor me is all of the interviews of Bette Davis speaking about her career and life experiences. Nothing beats going directlyto the original source herself. The inclusion of so many of Bette Davis' great film clips sort of goes without saying that part couldn't have been better because film clips are of classicfilm footage with Bette Davis in them. I haven't decided if it is my favorite documentary, yet.

  • A Pleasant Surprise

    • Tonix
    • 8/17/09

    I usually don't like documentaries that are biographies ABOUT people. They're often stacked with tid bits of untruths and too many opinions. I found this documentary to be an exception because the material used is primarily that of Bette Davis speaking herself or film clips of her in action. The one major opinion offered is Olivia de Havilland's.Probably one of the most qualified people to speak about Bette Davis. They were friends as well as work colleagues in quite a few important classics. De Havilland actually created the title for this biography with her opinion. She called Bette Davis, "basically, a benevolent volcano." Her statement was followed almost immediately by an interview statement Davis herself makes saying, "I exhaust people," refering to her tireless energy for acting. Few fans do little more than romanticize the job of acting. Like Henry Fonda, to Bette Davis, acting was just her job. There are a large group of her peers who felt similarly and rejected glamour.

  • Lots of Footage of Bette Davis Interviews

    • My_Mahalo
    • 8/15/09

    I don't know who Ian Holm, the British narrator is; but, he did a good job of explaining the different parts of this biography about Bette Davis. Saying it's about her is not quite right. There is so much footage of her actually speaking about her career and self that it's more like the biography is autobiographical. That's what I found to be most credible about it. Plus, opening up with Olivia de Havilland saying that Bette Davis is a "basically benevolent volcano..." was just right considering that's what the producers chose for the title. This is a really good documentary. The film clips of Davis classics are excellent.

  • Liked it...

    • DavidaH
    • 8/13/09

    Thanks to TCm for airing this documentary. I liked it because I learned something new: Olivia de Havilland is the person who came up with the wonderful description of Bette Davis as a 'basically benevolent volcano'. How appropos. The content of the film is also quite good because most of the footage is of Bette Davis speaking herself. The interviewing processes of her are so revealing of what her focus was as an actor: the integrity of the whole film.

  • Well Done

    • 13Donuts
    • 8/11/09

    Bette Davis is featured in her own biographical documentary giving interviews, in major motion picture film clips, and right up to the time when thisprogram for the BBC is being made, in 1984. My favorite part, aside from all of the comments by Bette Davis, is the fact that Olivia de Havilland, one of Davis' closest friends, is actually the person who created the title by making tht statement that she considered Bette Davis to be a basically benevolent volcano. Davis herself explains that her energetic intensity is so exhausting that she's worn out many a person! To that, had I been there with her, I would have said, "It sure does show in your films!" In fact, that's the best part of them: her very intensive focus in character.

  • Bio-Documentary of & with Bette Davis

    • dddoughboy
    • 8/11/09

    The best part of this combo of lots of choice film clips from Bette Davis' classic films, interviews of the more significant people who knew her well, is the amount of air time given to Bette Davis herself during a lengthy interview.Second hand sources of this caliber are great. But there's nothing that compares to interviewing the person themselves. There's no need to do any guess work about who Bette Davis was: she was available, giving enough, free-speaking and very candid. Not only do we have her hundred plus filmed performances, but we also have many bio-docs, as well as, 3 autobiographies that Bette Davis authoredherself. How she made the time to do all she did in 81 years still amazes me.

  • Bette Davis Speaks for Herself

    • Noriko
    • 8/10/09

    Olivia de Havilland coined the phrase that become the title for this bio-documentary. Ian Holm does the narration.What becomes all the more fascinating to me is how often Bette Davis speaks herself around 1984, right before this was aired by the BBC on British television. Interestingly, in TCM's credits, Olivia de Havilland, a great actor and one of the most interesting interviewees, is not credited as such. Considering that her own descriptive phrase about Bette Davis was recorded and used as part of the opening of this film, that's a curious omission. The other interesting point I found was that Bette Davis' influence as a actor was and still is of great importance to British audiences, as it is to American ones.

  • Wonderful Biography of Bette Davis

    • MacKenzies
    • 8/3/09

    Bette Davis herself is part of this presentation about her work and life. Ian Holm has his hands full as the narrator with several of the formiddable cast members and director of "All About Eve," now known as Bette Davis' all time great classic. If ever there was an appropos title, this one is it. I found the whole program very interesting and entertaining.

  • Benevolent Bette : Volcanic Bette

    • DavidNeumeyer
    • 6/24/09

    The benevolent part of Bette Davis' career consists of how she mentored so many other budding actors when she was hardly an adult herself. The benevolent part of her was also the lady who started and ran "The Hollywood Canteen" during WWII, as a patriot. The benevolent part was also all of the husbands she supported, the mother she gave twice as much to as she did for herself, the children she adored and gave her all to, and the friends she helped whenever they needed her most. What she gave of herself to make a great film was also an act of benevolence rather than simply making herself look like the star. The volcanic part is the Bette Davis of the silver screen who exploded into the arena of show business and never let up or quit. She was one of the most intense performers to ever be filmed. If her character called for it, Bette Davis could rant, rave, go ballistic, nuts, manic, compulsive, deadly, sinister and more. But the real volcanic part of Bette Davis was her very early meteoric rise to the status of an Oscar-winning performer whose performances were nominated and won awards more often than not. The volcanic part was also the Yankee who didn't take any guff off of production companies and didn't speak with soft padding around her candor. She was that rare kind of person.

  • Good Title

    • Prof_Alice
    • 6/23/09

    Ian Holm narrates as several of the "All About Eve" group are interviewed or make comments about the work and life of Bette Davis. Of all the biographical documentaries, I like this title the best. It seems quite right for what I know of Miss Davis' performances and life.

  • A Film that Should be Seen

    • ZZZIZ
    • 6/8/09

    Bette Davis is one of the great interviewees in this biographical documentary about her life, acting and films. I've never seen anything but highly enthusiastic interviews of Davis. Cavett claims Davis to be his favorite interviewee. This film really shows why."The First Lady of American Cinema" offers ample evidence of why she became such a successful actor. What a great personality, so full of fun and huumor. Ready to be candid, outspoken to a fault.Certainly no snobbish, uppity witch with a b. Major participants in the making of her masterpiece, "All About Eve," are interviewed in this film. It's well worth owning.

  • Loaded with smart interviewees

    • DeborahG
    • 5/21/09

    Besides seventy-six year old Bette Davis being an actual interviewee, the others who were brought on board to honor the life and films of Bette Davis are close associates with whom she worked. The title of this biographical film is one of the most appropos. The words'benevolent' and 'volcano' couldn't be more fitting for Bette Davis. Davis did as much to encourage the acting careers of others as she did to create her own: benevolence. Davis didn't take Hollywood by storm. She overcame the studio system like hot lava with a career that explodedwith some of the most firey performances Hollywood's ever produced.

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