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Stardust: The Bette Davis Story (2006)

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Combining unprecedented access to Davis' vast personal archives with original interviews, this documentary reveals a startling portrait of one of hollywood's most gifted and enigmatic stars.


, (co-director) (as Mark Catalena)


Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Although free spirit Helen Bauer does not believe in marriage, she consents to marry Don, but his infidelities cause her to also take on a lover.

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Sardonic detective Shane, thrown out of one town for bringing trouble, heads for home and his ex-partner's detective agency. The business is in a sad way, and Shane, who has had the ... See full summary »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Narrator (voice)
Herself (archive footage)
Ruthie Davis ...
Herself (archive footage)
Michael Merrill ...
Marion Sherry ...
Cecil Clovelly ...
Himself (archive footage)
Himself (voice) (archive footage)
Casey Robinson ...
Himself (voice) (archive footage)
Himself as Montgomery Royle (archive footage)
Leo Rosten ...
Himself (voice) (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)


A standard biography of the famed actress recounting her childhood, early films and her rise to stardom. Her father abandoned the family when she was quite young and she remained close to her domineering mother. As she became more popular she had many fights with Jack Warner, the head of Warner Brothers studio, but eventually managed to exert greater control over her career. She was nominated for several Oscars. Her private life life included several failed marriages and she was deeply hurt when her daughter, who was her closest companion for several years, wrote a tell-all and unflattering memoir of her life. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis






Release Date:

3 May 2006 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die Bette Davis-Story  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This documentary claims that Arliss saw Bette in a play,"The Wild Duck". In fact, character actor Murray Kinnell after working with Davis advised Arliss to have her read for him, as he knew Arliss was looking for a specific type for a film and Kinnell thought that Davis might suit Arliss. Arliss was unfamiliar with Davis but had worked with Kinnell in the theater as well as on film. See more »


Features Hollywood Canteen (1944) See more »


Star Dust
Music by Hoagy Carmichael
Lyrics by Mitchell Parish
Performed by Nat 'King' Cole
See more »

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User Reviews

Magnificent, uncompromisingly honest look at one of the screen's greatest legends
28 May 2006 | by See all my reviews

Hats off again to Turner Classic Movies and their corporate sibling Warner Bros., for once again setting the highest bar for documentary film-making on Hollywood subjects.

Peter Jones is not a household name, but he should be. This magnificent director has created some of the best industry-based works I've ever seen. His portrait of Samuel Goldwyn on American Masters was superb, and even through the muck of A&E, his telling of the story of Ozzie and Harriet turned out to be one of the most moving, and heartbreaking studies of the American dream dissolved.

After a few years away from the 'spotlight' as it were, I saw this documentary on TCM after reading wonderful reviews. I wasn't skeptical about it, as TCM has generally (with rare exception in prior years) always delivered a first rate product.

Instead of taking the traditional approach, Jones has crafted a true MOTION PICTURE. Not a predictable clip/talking head/clip show. He gets under Davis' skin, and paints a portrait of a remarkable, yet basically sad person. Lest we forget her 1960s autobiography was called THE LONELY LIFE.

Jones celebrates her genius, and has a cast of colleagues and friends of Davis to back up his story, and it sets this show apart from the usual claptrap we see on other cable channels.

Not surprisingly, this is a co-production between Warner Bros. and TCM, which means a somewhat concurrent DVD release of the docu is part of an overall collection of great Davis films. WB has used this formula with both TCM and PBS to celebrate the likes of Errol Flynn, Cary Grant, Judy Garland, Garbo, and so many others. It's what sets WB apart from all other studios as the classiest and sharpest when it comes to their legacy on DVD, and also why Turner Classic Movies remains so acclaimed by critics year after year.

I look forward to the next Peter Jones Production! He's one terrific filmmaker. I think Bette would be proud.

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