I just watched a movie called Kid Galahad (1937), starring Edward G. Robinson, Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart and Wayne Morris and it brought up a very interesting point. How come Bette Davis so rarely gets her man?
Of course, so far I’ve only seen ten of her films, but she’s only gotten her man in three of them: All About Eve (1950), The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942) and The Catered Affair (1956) – though she already had him in that one, but it wasn’t a particularly happy marriage.
In The Petrified Forest (1936) her man gets shot (by Humphrey Bogart, though it was kind of a suicide. It’s a complicated scenario). As Queen Elizabeth I in The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939) she has her man beheaded. In Now Voyager (1942), her man is already married. Waterloo Bridge (1931) doesn’t count because she only has a bit part and there’s no man to get. But in Jezebel, half the trouble in the film is caused by that fact that she doesn’t get her man.
I suppose you could argue that she does get her man in Marked Woman (1937), but that’s only because where she really wants to get him is in jail.
And finally, we have Kid Galahad. She is initially Edward G. Robinson’s girl, who is a boxing promoter, but she falls in love with Robinson’s boxer, Wayne Morris. Morris, however, has the bad taste to fall in love with Robinson’s sister (Jane Bryan). Humphrey Bogart is lurking about as a mobster promoting a rival boxer.
It’s a good film, with lots of boxing action and good acting all around, but I was frustrated at the story. I liked the first half more because it had more of her, but in the second half Robinson’s sister shows up and she wasn’t as interesting. And Bette Davis’ character was such a nice, well-adjusted person for being a boxing promoter’s moll and having led a tough life and I really wanted her to be happy.
I’ve seen many of the great actresses: Katharine Hepburn, Myrna Loy, Barbara Stanwyck, Ingrid Bergman, Claudette Colbert and they usually do manage a happy ending – at least more than 50% of the time. I suppose that’s what Bette Davis gets for being a serious, dramatic actress…no men.
Maybe I just need to see more of her films.