Bette Davis, William Wyler, and The Letter

Bette Davis - by George Hurrell 1940 - The Letter

“I did it his way… Yes, I lost a battle, but I lost it to a genius… So many directors were such weak sisters that I would have to take over. Uncreative, unsure of themselves, frightened to fight back, they offered me none of the security that this tyrant did.”
Bette Davis, of working with William Wyler on The Letter (Bette Davis, The Lonely Life, as quoted by Mark Harris in Five Came Back: A Story Of Hollywood and the Second World War)

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  1. October 7, 2014

    Yes! What a perfect pair these two were. Bette always believed more is more, and Willie always believed less is more, and they met somewhere in the middle (or maybe a bit closer to Wyler’s side…). I love reading about his battles with actors, such as with Olivier on “Wuthering Heights,” who used to drive him crazy with the overemoting. He was almost always right, and it shows in the way his movies have held up. Thank you for a great photograph and a wonderful reminiscence from Bette!!

  2. October 11, 2014

    I’ve always been confused at the way the make-up people did Bette’s lips. If you look closely at this photo, you can see where she has a little notch in her top lip, like most people do. But they consistently went over it with lipstick to make it look like she had an upper lip like the rim of a dinner plate. Why ever? They seemed to enhance the “v” in the top lip with most other actresses, even though they often crossed the border on the lower lip to make it look fuller (see any photo of Lauren Bacall). I think Bette’s mouth would have been so much prettier if they’d followed the natural shape of her lips, even if they did accentuate those natural lines by widening them a bit.

  3. George Kaplan
    October 12, 2014

    “An upper lip like the rim of a dinner plate”, hilarious phrasing, Ms Marcheline!

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