Tuesday 4 September 2012

Precode Double Take: Bette Davis

Out of all the Precode actresses, Bette Davis was the most made-up and done over. Her plain brown hair was bleached the popular white blond, hair styled heavily and her makeup applied liberally. But, she didn't like the star treatment nor the plastic image Warner's had given her and fought for her independence. Just a few years after the code was introduced, Bette is almost unrecognisable. Her appearance is more natural, elegant and strong and, in the blink of an eye, her career blossomed. Here's a look at Bette pre and post code:

Bette the Seducer

Precode: 'Cabin in the Cotten' (1932)
Postcode: 'Mrs Skeffington' (1944)

Bette the Bad

Precode: 'Bureau of Missing Persons' (1933)
Postcode: 'The Letter' (1940)

 Bette the Career Woman

Precode: 'Ex-Lady' (1933)
Postcode: 'All About Eve' (1950)

Bette the Socialite

 Precode: 'Fog Over Frisco' (1934)

Postcode: 'Dark Victory' (1939)


Bette the Singer

Precode: 'Fashion's of 1934' (1934)
Postcode: 'Whatever Happened to Baby Jane' (1962)

And the best of all:

Bette the Drag Queen:

File:Bette davis of human bondage.jpg
Precode: 'Of Human Bondage' (1934)

Postcode: 'The Lives of Elizabeth and Essex' (1939)

 Postcode: 'Whatever Happened to Baby Jane' (1962)


  1. Interestingly enough, I've never seen any of the pre-codes you mentioned, but I've seen all of the post-codes. I love Bette Davis, she is definitely one of the better actresses that ever lived! But I should really get into her pre-codes. I haven't seen all that many pre-codes and I wanna see more: That's part of the reason why I follow your blog :)
    lovely post! cheers!

  2. Thanks for your comment. Bette is really different in Precodes compared to Postcodes. She had been typecasted and plays many similar roles as the leading mans girlfriend or sister. If you get the chance I definitely recommend 'Of Human Bondage' (1934) it was her breakthrough role and, just to warn you, Bette is a MASSIVE bitch. Also, check out 'Cabin in the Cotton' some parts of it are horrible and there are alot of political references in it; however, I waatch it just to see Bette in a pure femme fatale role, with blonde hair and to say the line: 'I'd love to kiss you but I've just washed my hair." Wonderful!!!

  3. I think, the only Bette film from your list, that I have not yet seen is, Of Human Bondage. Last year, I watched every Bette Davis films I could get my hands on.. I did not think I would like the classic film, The Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, but.. I was wrong.. I loved it.

  4. I have only seen parts of that movie, If you get the chance 'Of Human Bondage' is great. It is Bette's first 'bitch heroine' role and she is amazing. No one throws a plate better than Bette Davis!!