Bette Davis was an American actress who was known for her strong, intense performances and her willingness to take on complex and challenging roles.

She starred in numerous movies throughout her career, earning critical acclaim and multiple awards for her work. Davis was a trailblazer in Hollywood, breaking down barriers and paving the way for future generations of actresses.

In this article, we will explore some of the best Bette Davis movies that showcase her talent and impact on the world of cinema.

Best Bette Davis Movies

From her early roles in classic Hollywood films to her later performances in more mature and nuanced roles, Bette Davis remains a legend in the world of acting, and her movies continue to inspire and entertain audiences today.

1. All About Eve (1950)

All About Eve is a 1950 American drama film directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and starring Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, and George Sanders.

The film tells the story of a young, ambitious actress named Eve Harrington (played by Anne Baxter) who insinuates herself into the life of an aging Broadway star named Margo Channing (played by Bette Davis).

As Eve’s true intentions are slowly revealed, the relationships between Margo, her friends, and her colleagues are thrown into turmoil, leading to a dramatic and unforgettable conclusion.

The film is widely regarded as a classic of American cinema, and it won six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay.

All About Eve is known for its sharp wit, biting commentary on the entertainment industry, and outstanding performances from its cast, particularly Bette Davis and Anne Baxter.

The film’s exploration of themes such as ambition, manipulation, and the fleeting nature of fame has made it a timeless classic that continues to be celebrated and studied by film scholars and audiences alike.

All About Eve
  • Condition: New
  • Format: DVD
  • Black & White; DVD; NTSC
  • English, Spanish (Subtitles)
  • Audience Rating: Unrated (Not Rated)

2. The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942)

“The Man Who Came to Dinner” is a classic American comedy film released in 1942. The movie was directed by William Keighley and starred Bette Davis, Monty Woolley, and Ann Sheridan.

The story revolves around a famous radio personality and critic named Sheridan Whiteside (played by Monty Woolley), who is invited to dinner at the home of a wealthy family in a small Ohio town.

While there, he slips on the ice and injures himself, forcing him to stay at the family’s home for several weeks.

   

As Whiteside recuperates, he becomes an increasingly disruptive and manipulative presence in the household, causing chaos and wreaking havoc on the lives of his hosts and their friends.

He receives visits from a wide array of colorful characters, including a glamorous actress, a penguin collector, and a prison escapee.

Despite his outrageous behavior, Whiteside eventually reveals a softer side and helps the family’s daughter to find love with a local newspaperman. The film is notable for its witty dialogue, zany characters, and satirical take on celebrity culture.

Overall, “The Man Who Came to Dinner” is a delightful and entertaining film that remains popular with audiences and critics alike. It is a classic example of the screwball comedy genre and features standout performances from its talented cast.

The Man Who Came to Dinner
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Bette Davis, Monty Woolley, Ann Sheridan (Actors)
  • Richard L. Bare (Director)
  • English, Spanish, French (Subtitles)
  • English (Publication Language)

3. Marked Woman (1937)

“Marked Woman” is a 1937 American crime drama film directed by Lloyd Bacon and starring Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart. The film is based on the real-life story of the “Gangster Squad,” a group of Los Angeles police officers who targeted organized crime in the city during the 1930s.

Bette Davis stars as Mary Dwight Strauber, a nightclub hostess who becomes involved with a powerful gangster named Johnny Vanning (Eduardo Ciannelli).

When Mary’s sister is beaten and killed by Vanning’s men, Mary agrees to testify against Vanning in court. However, Vanning and his associates use every means at their disposal to intimidate and threaten Mary and the other women who work at the nightclub.

Humphrey Bogart plays David Graham, the hard-nosed prosecutor who takes on the case and works to protect the women from Vanning’s wrath. The film is notable for its gritty and realistic portrayal of organized crime and corruption in 1930s America, as well as for the strong performances of its two lead actors.

“Marked Woman” was a critical and commercial success upon its release, and it has since been recognized as a classic of the crime drama genre.

The film’s portrayal of female characters as strong and resilient in the face of adversity was also ahead of its time, and it has been praised for its feminist themes.

Marked Woman (1937)
  • Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart, Allen Jenkins (Actors)
  • Lloyd Bacon (Director)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

4. Dark Victory (1939)

“Dark Victory” is a 1939 American drama film directed by Edmund Goulding and starring Bette Davis, George Brent, and Humphrey Bogart in a supporting role.

The film tells the story of Judith Traherne (Bette Davis), a young socialite who is diagnosed with a brain tumor. Despite the efforts of her doctor, Frederick Steele (George Brent), to save her life, Judith’s condition worsens, and she eventually dies.

The film deals with themes of mortality, love, and the search for meaning in life. It was praised for its sensitive handling of a difficult subject matter and for the powerful performances of its lead actors, particularly Bette Davis, who received an Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of Judith.

“Dark Victory” was a commercial and critical success, and it remains a classic of American cinema. It has been remade several times, including as a made-for-TV movie in 1963 starring Elizabeth Montgomery, and as a stage musical in 2004.

Dark Victory (1939)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Bette Davis, George Brent, Humphrey Bogart (Actors)
  • Edmund Goulding (Director) - Casey Robinson (Writer) - David Lewis (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

5. The Petrified Forest (1936)

“The Petrified Forest” is a 1936 film directed by Archie Mayo and starring Bette Davis, Leslie Howard, and Humphrey Bogart.

The movie is based on the play of the same name by Robert E. Sherwood and tells the story of a group of people who are stranded in a remote diner in the Arizona desert.

Bette Davis plays Gabrielle Maple, a young woman who dreams of leaving her small town and pursuing a career as an artist in Paris. Leslie Howard plays Alan Squier, a disillusioned writer who has lost his sense of purpose in life.

Humphrey Bogart plays Duke Mantee, a notorious gangster who holds the diner’s patrons hostage.

   

Davis’s performance in “The Petrified Forest” is understated and nuanced, and she captures the longing and restlessness of her character with ease. The movie also features strong performances from Howard and Bogart, and the interplay between the three actors is intense and captivating.

“The Petrified Forest” is considered a classic of the gangster genre and is widely regarded as one of Bette Davis’s best movies. The film’s themes of isolation, desperation, and redemption are timeless, and the performances of the three leads continue to resonate with audiences today.

The Petrified Forest
  • Leslie Howard , Bette Davis , Genevieve Tobin  (Actors)
  • Archie Mayo (Director) - Charles Kenyon  (Writer) - Hal B. Wallis (Producer)
  • English, Spanish, French (Subtitles)
  • Audience Rating: Unrated (Not Rated)

6. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is a 1962 American psychological horror-thriller film directed by Robert Aldrich and starring Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.

The film tells the story of two aging sisters, former child star Baby Jane Hudson (played by Bette Davis) and her sister Blanche (played by Joan Crawford), a successful actress who was left paralyzed following a car accident.

As the two sisters live together in their decaying Hollywood mansion, their long-simmering animosity towards each other boils over into a series of macabre and disturbing events, culminating in a shocking and unforgettable climax.

The film was a commercial and critical success and has since become a cult classic. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is notable for its dark and twisted plot, its chilling portrayal of the two sisters, and the outstanding performances of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.

The film’s exploration of themes such as aging, regret, and the destructive power of jealousy has made it a landmark in the horror-thriller genre and a must-see for fans of classic cinema.

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
  • Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Victor Buono (Actors)
  • Robert Aldrich (Director)
  • English, Spanish, French (Subtitles)
  • Audience Rating: Unrated (Not Rated)

7. Mr. Skeffington (1944)

“Mr. Skeffington” is a classic American drama film released in 1944. The movie was directed by Vincent Sherman and starred Bette Davis, Claude Rains, and Walter Abel.

The story takes place in New York City during the early 20th century and centers around a beautiful and glamorous socialite named Fanny Trellis (played by Bette Davis). Fanny enjoys a life of privilege and luxury, but is also known for her selfishness and narcissism.

When her brother becomes ill and requires expensive medical treatment, Fanny agrees to marry a wealthy businessman named Job Skeffington (played by Claude Rains) in exchange for the money to pay for her brother’s care.

Although she does not love him, Fanny goes through with the marriage and begins a new life as Mrs. Skeffington.

As time goes on, Fanny’s beauty begins to fade and she becomes increasingly unhappy in her marriage. She has a series of affairs and eventually divorces Skeffington, but comes to regret her decision when she realizes how much she truly loved him.

“Mr. Skeffington” is a powerful and emotional film that explores themes of love, sacrifice, and the fleeting nature of beauty.

Bette Davis delivers a standout performance as the complex and flawed Fanny Trellis, and the film’s supporting cast is also excellent. The movie was nominated for several Academy Awards, including Best Actress for Bette Davis.

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Mr. Skeffington
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Bette Davis, Claude Rains, Walter Abel (Actors)
  • Vincent Sherman (Director) - Julius J. Epstein (Writer) - Jack L. Warner (Producer) - Elizabeth von...
  • English, Spanish, French (Subtitles)
  • English (Publication Language)

8. Pocketful of Miracles (1961)

“Pocketful of Miracles” is a 1961 American comedy film directed by Frank Capra and starring Bette Davis, Glenn Ford, and Hope Lange. The film is a remake of the 1933 film “Lady for a Day,” which was also directed by Capra.

The story follows Apple Annie (Bette Davis), a poor street vendor in New York City who sells apples and pretends to be a high society woman to impress her daughter, who is studying abroad in Spain.

When Annie’s daughter announces she is coming to New York with her wealthy fiance and his family, Annie enlists the help of a good-hearted gangster named Dave the Dude (Glenn Ford) to help her pose as a wealthy society woman and keep up the charade.

The film features several comedic set pieces and a colorful cast of characters, including a police sergeant who is in love with Annie, a con artist who pretends to be her long-lost husband, and a group of gangsters who help Dave the Dude pull off the scheme.

“Pocketful of Miracles” was well-received upon its release, particularly for Bette Davis’ performance as Apple Annie.

The film also marked the last collaboration between Frank Capra and longtime screenwriter Robert Riskin, who died shortly after the film’s release.

Despite its success, the film has been somewhat overshadowed by Capra’s earlier works, such as “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

Pocketful of Miracles [DVD]
  • Glenn Ford, Bette Davis, Hope Lange (Actors)
  • Frank Capra (Director) - Damon Runyon (Writer)
  • Spanish, French (Subtitles)
  • Audience Rating: Unrated (Not Rated)

9. In This Our Life (1942)

“In This Our Life” is a 1942 American drama film directed by John Huston and starring Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, and George Brent.

The film tells the story of the Timberlake family, a prominent family in a southern town. The eldest daughter, Stanley (Bette Davis), is selfish and manipulative, causing turmoil and tragedy in the lives of those around her.

She runs away with her sister’s husband, causing her sister Roy (Olivia de Havilland) to contemplate suicide, and leading to the wrongful imprisonment of a black man, Parry Clay (Ernest Anderson), whom Stanley accuses of a hit-and-run accident.

The film deals with themes of racism, morality, and family dynamics. It was adapted from a novel by Ellen Glasgow and was praised for its strong performances and powerful storytelling.

Bette Davis’ portrayal of the villainous Stanley was particularly acclaimed, and the film is considered one of her finest performances.

“In This Our Life” was notable for its depiction of racism and the treatment of African Americans in the American South. The film’s portrayal of racial injustice was ahead of its time, and it remains a powerful statement on the issue.

In This Our Life (1942)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, George Brent (Actors)
  • John Huston (Director) - Howard Koch (Writer) - David Lewis (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

10. Death on the Nile (1978)

“Death on the Nile” is a 1978 mystery film directed by John Guillermin and based on the novel of the same name by Agatha Christie. The movie features an all-star cast, including Bette Davis, Peter Ustinov, Angela Lansbury, and Maggie Smith, among others.

Bette Davis plays Mrs. Van Schuyler, a wealthy and acerbic American socialite who is traveling on a luxury steamboat along the Nile River.

When one of the passengers, a young heiress, is murdered, detective Hercule Poirot (played by Peter Ustinov) must solve the case before the killer strikes again.

In “Death on the Nile,” Davis gives a memorable performance as the sharp-tongued Mrs. Van Schuyler, who delights in causing trouble and making snide remarks.

The movie’s ensemble cast is superb, and the film is a delightful blend of mystery, humor, and suspense. The movie is also notable for its stunning locations and beautiful cinematography.

“Death on the Nile” is a classic whodunit that will keep audiences guessing until the very end. The movie is a testament to Bette Davis’s enduring talent and her ability to hold her own alongside a cast of Hollywood legends.

Death On The Nile
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Peter Ustinov, David Niven, Lois Chiles (Actors)
  • John Guillermin (Director)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • Audience Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)

11. The Star (1952)

The Star is a 1952 American drama film directed by Stuart Heisler and starring Bette Davis. The film tells the story of a fading Hollywood actress named Margaret Elliot (played by Bette Davis) who struggles to find work in an industry that values youth and beauty above all else.

As her career continues to falter, Margaret turns to alcohol and begins to spiral out of control. However, when she meets a young fan named Jim (played by Sterling Hayden), she finds renewed purpose and inspiration to reclaim her place in the spotlight.

The Star is notable for its portrayal of the Hollywood system and the challenges faced by aging actresses in a youth-obsessed industry. Bette Davis delivers a powerful and nuanced performance as Margaret Elliot, capturing the character’s vulnerabilities and strengths with equal skill.

The film’s exploration of themes such as aging, addiction, and the struggle for relevance has made it a classic of Hollywood cinema and a must-see for fans of Bette Davis and classic drama.

The Star (1952)
  • Bette Davis, Sterling Hayden, Natalie Wood (Actors)
  • Stuart Heisler (Director)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

12. The Little Foxes (1941)

“The Little Foxes” is a classic American drama film released in 1941. The movie was directed by William Wyler and starred Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall, and Teresa Wright.

The story takes place in a small town in the South during the early 20th century and centers around a wealthy family, the Hubbards, who will stop at nothing to maintain their wealth and power.

Bette Davis plays Regina Hubbard Giddens, a cunning and ruthless woman who is determined to make a fortune for herself and her family by any means necessary.

Regina and her brothers, Benjamin (played by Charles Dingle) and Oscar (played by Carl Benton Reid), plan to invest in a cotton mill in order to increase their wealth, but need the financial support of Regina’s husband Horace (played by Herbert Marshall) to make it happen.

However, Horace is reluctant to invest in the venture, and tensions rise between the family members as they try to convince him to change his mind.

As the family’s greed and deceit become more apparent, Horace begins to see them for who they really are and turns against them. The film is a powerful and gripping drama that explores themes of greed, power, and betrayal.

Bette Davis delivers a standout performance as Regina, a strong-willed and ruthless woman who will stop at nothing to achieve her goals. The film was nominated for several Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and is considered a classic of American cinema.

The Little Foxes (1941)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall, Teresa Wright (Actors)
  • William Wyler (Director) - Lillian Hellman (Writer) - Samuel Goldwyn (Producer)
  • (Playback Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

13. Jezebel (1938)

“Jezebel” is a 1938 American romantic drama film directed by William Wyler and starring Bette Davis, Henry Fonda, and George Brent.

The film is set in 1850s New Orleans and follows the story of a headstrong young woman named Julie Marsden (Bette Davis), who defies social conventions by wearing a scandalous red dress to a ball.

After her fiancé Preston Dillard (Henry Fonda) publicly humiliates her for her actions, Julie sets out to win him back, even as he becomes involved with another woman.

As the drama unfolds, Julie is forced to confront her own pride and stubbornness, as well as the societal expectations that have shaped her life.

“Jezebel” was a critical and commercial success upon its release, and it earned Bette Davis her second Academy Award for Best Actress.

The film is notable for its lush cinematography and attention to period detail, as well as for its exploration of themes such as gender roles and class distinctions in the Antebellum South.

In addition to Davis’ memorable performance, “Jezebel” is also remembered for its strong supporting cast, including George Brent as Julie’s former lover and Fay Bainter as her aunt, who tries to guide her through the complexities of high society.

The film’s title, which refers to the biblical figure of Jezebel, has also become a cultural touchstone, representing a woman who is seen as immoral or disobedient.

Jezebel (1938)
  • Bette Davis, Henry Fonda, George Brent (Actors)
  • William Wyler (Director)
  • English (Publication Language)

14. The Letter (1940)

“The Letter” is a 1940 American film noir directed by William Wyler and starring Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall, and James Stephenson.

The film tells the story of Leslie Crosbie (Bette Davis), a woman living in colonial Singapore who shoots and kills a man claiming he tried to rape her.

As the investigation into the murder unfolds, it is revealed that Leslie had been carrying on an affair with the victim, and she begins to unravel under the pressure of the investigation.

The film deals with themes of morality, guilt, and the consequences of one’s actions. It was adapted from a play by W. Somerset Maugham and was praised for its suspenseful storytelling and powerful performances.

Bette Davis’ portrayal of Leslie Crosbie was particularly acclaimed, and she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for her performance.

“The Letter” is considered a classic of American cinema and has been remade several times, including as a Malay-language film in 1965 and as a made-for-TV movie in 1982 starring Lee Remick.

The Letter (1940)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall, James Stephenson (Actors)
  • William Wyler (Director) - Howard Koch (Writer) - William Wyler (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

15. Old Acquaintance (1943)

“Old Acquaintance” is a 1943 drama film directed by Vincent Sherman and starring Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins.

The movie is based on the play “Old Acquaintance” by John Van Druten and tells the story of two women who have been friends since childhood but who have taken different paths in life.

Bette Davis plays Kit Marlowe, a successful and respected author who is estranged from her childhood friend, Millie Drake (played by Miriam Hopkins), a glamorous and vivacious socialite.

When Millie comes to visit Kit in her small town, old tensions and rivalries resurface, leading to a series of confrontations and betrayals.

In “Old Acquaintance,” Davis gives a strong and nuanced performance as the fiercely independent Kit Marlowe, who struggles to maintain her sense of self in the face of societal expectations and personal betrayals.

Miriam Hopkins also delivers a standout performance as the manipulative and self-centered Millie Drake, creating a complex and nuanced portrayal of a flawed character.

“Old Acquaintance” is a thoughtful and engaging drama that explores the complexities of friendship, ambition, and identity. The movie is a showcase for Bette Davis’s and Miriam Hopkins’s acting talents and a testament to their enduring impact on the world of cinema.

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Old Acquaintance
  • Bette Davis, Miriam Hopkins, Gig Young (Actors)
  • Chuck Jones (Director) - Edmund Goulding (Writer)
  • Spanish, French (Subtitles)
  • Audience Rating: Unrated (Not Rated)

3 Reasons To Watch Bette Davis Movies

Bette Davis was a pioneering actress: Bette Davis was a pioneering actress who paved the way for women in Hollywood.

Her fearless performances and refusal to conform to conventional beauty standards helped to redefine what it meant to be a leading lady in Hollywood.

Davis was a trailblazer who fought for better roles for women in the film industry and inspired generations of actresses who followed in her footsteps.

Her performances are iconic: Bette Davis was known for her intense and dynamic performances that captivated audiences and critics alike.

Her ability to convey complex emotions and bring depth to her characters set her apart from her contemporaries and made her a legend of Hollywood cinema. From her Oscar-winning role in “Jezebel” to her iconic turn in “All About Eve,” Davis’ performances are unforgettable and have stood the test of time.

Her films are a window into Hollywood history: Bette Davis’ films are not only entertaining, but they also provide a fascinating window into Hollywood history.

Her films capture the spirit of the Golden Age of Hollywood and offer a glimpse into the social norms, attitudes, and values of the time.

For movie lovers and history buffs alike, Bette Davis’ films are an invaluable cultural artifact that continues to captivate audiences today.

Best Bette Davis Movies – Wrap Up

Bette Davis was one of the most iconic actresses of Hollywood’s Golden Age, known for her distinctive voice, intense performances, and unforgettable characters. She starred in numerous classic films throughout her career.

Each of these films showcases Bette Davis’ incredible range and talent as an actress, and many of them are considered classic examples of American cinema.

Whether playing strong-willed heroines or complex and flawed characters, Bette Davis left an indelible mark on the film industry and continues to be remembered as one of Hollywood’s greatest legends.