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Ernest Harden Jr.,
On the celebration of the anniversary of Mrs. Taggart, her three dominated sons come to her house for the party. Terry, Henry and Tom Taggart work in construction, in a business that belonged to their father and is presently managed by their manipulative mother. Tom brings his pregnant fiancée Shirley Blair to tell his mother that they will marry each other; Terry brings his wife Karen Taggart and they secretly intend to emigrate to Canada; and Henry is gay and loves to wear women's underwear. During the night, the mean Mrs. Taggart uses the most despicable means and tricks to get rid off Shirley and Terry and keep her sons close to her. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
It's my favorite Davis performance post-BABY JANE among her horror films. THE ANNIVERSARY, with Bette as the evil but grand Mrs. Taggert. From the moment the film begins she is constantly in control, even in those scenes where she is not physically appearing.
It is her wedding anniversary, and her three sons and the wife of one and the current girlfriend of another are in attendance. And in the course of the ninety minutes of the film, no matter what attempts to put Mrs. Taggart into her place or at least into a more reasonable frame of mind, she comes up trumps in making them feel like garbage. To be fair Mrs. Taggart has some grounds to be so vile - her missing eye is due to the antics of her sons. But even so, she takes bad behavior to a new level.
I have a sneaking suspicion, giving the devilish charm she brought to the role, Davis enjoyed this film. She was (despite her denials) a very difficult woman to get along with, and probably enjoyed how her character totally dominates this film. But it's done with such panache. Look at how she notes her youngest son's girlfriend (a cute looking blonde) has a secret physical defect that she uses her hair to hide. And she does so accidentally reveal it to the entire family.
Nobody escapes her witchery. In the course of the film she is getting some tiresome phone calls from one of her tenants about the work she did in constructing his house. She is as sweet as molasses in calming him down, but once she has hung up she tells her oldest son that they use a third rate repairman to fix the tenant's problem. Indeed, the last sequence in the film, when Bette passes a fountain that is of a male figure who shoots out water in a "unique" manner shows Mrs. Taggert's view of how the world should be treated.
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