Archive for the ‘Emlyn WIlliams’ Category

Another Man’s Poison

19 Nov

Another Man’s Poison –- directed by Irving Rapper. Murder Mysery. A famous female mystery writer offs her hubby and gets her comeuppance. 88 minutes Black and White 1952.


Bette Davis had a big technique. She also had beautiful hair. And it is interesting to see them both in operation as tools of glamor power in a film where she is surrounded by a story, a cinematographer, a director, and a cast who are in a different league entirely.

This does not always mean that they are in a lesser league, only another one. For here she plays with first class English character actors, Edna Morris as her Yorkshire housekeeper and Reginald Beckwith as the town shopkeeper. Both actors are open, vulnerable and real. It is fascinating to see how different Davis’ work is from theirs, she imperious in every way and always physical, which is not to say she throws herself around, but still, when she walks through the door Somebody Has Arrived. Davis has entered her persona years. What she is offering as an actress is a formula, highly responsive, certain, lawless.

Although in some cases they are in a lesser league. The direction handled by Hitchcock would have made a small masterpiece of the material. The film is uninterestingly filmed virtually in a single set, and lacks any sense of narrative style. And the material is from a routine stage play.

Davis is also faced with an actor who is an amateur, Garry Merrill, who was Davis’ husband at the time. They had the notion that they would become a Tracy and Hepburn or Lunt and Fontanne. Wouldn’t that have been fun, for she is 44 at this time and could have done with a boost, but no. His performance is not acceptable by any low standard that I know of. This she refuses to allow to bother her.

The point about Davis as an actress when you see her here next to Emlyn Williams as the nosy neighbor or Reginald Beckwith and Edna Morris is not even so much as that she is in another class, but that she is in a class by herself. She created something the like of which in acting terms did not resemble any other type or degree of actor. It doesn’t mean she can’t act with other actors, for she can, she always could when they were good, and even when they were not. But it does mean that she is a freak. For the sake of her craft, she has made herself like no other human being.

She is a freak –– particularly of sexuality, which she wields like the riding crop she holds. She seduces her secretary’s fiancé, the gorgeous Anthony Steel, with a beckoned pinky. But she had reached the age when her sexual power, displayed by her hair, here as in All About Eve, can only barely distract from her broadening waistline and wattle.

And so this picture marks the start of the end of her career as an actor. For forty-seven years more she would continue. It’s longer by seventeen years than the career she already had. She went on, movie after movie, until the month she died. But she never gave a performance or made a movie of any consequence again. From now on she was no longer the big top but, like Gargantua, merely a famous side-show. It’s what she had made herself into. A tiny figure, she stood alone, but there was no story to tell with it any more.

Comments Off on Another Man’s Poison


Rss Feed Tweeter button Facebook button Technorati button Reddit button Myspace button Linkedin button Webonews button Delicious button Digg button Flickr button Stumbleupon button Newsvine button