"Beyond the Forest" is finally getting the respect it's always deserved. A number of film historians are finally appraising this masterpiece as the work of art it is. Thanks to its phenomenal star, Bette Davis, this King Vidor production has had to struggle with a bad reputation since it was first seen back in l949. Davis was going through a breakdown: she hated her studio, her marriage was dead, and Jack Warner finally kicked her ass off the Warner lot. Forever after, Davis always slammed everything about "Beyond the Forest" and people who never even saw it, joked about it and tore it to pieces. Especially, the gay crowds. When I saw "Beyond the Forest" at the old Regency Theater here in Manhattan back in the 80s, no one could enjoy it, since the gaggle of screeching queens ruined it for everyone by camping it up. Davis' inner turmoil and fury is what makes Rosa Moline literally seethe with fury, bristling with electricity in her greatest role. No other major star would have taken the risks that Davis does. As to the many comments about her black wig, make-up, clevage. This is how small-town women tried to look during that era. The Maria Montez look. I remember this from my small Southern town. All women dyed their hair black, grew long tresses, etc. Max Steiner's musical score is among his greatest (next to another masterpiece that Bette always put down, the l942 "In This Our life.")Davis' role is among the greatest ever put on screen. She displays her genius here like never before. To those who like to be clever and cute and view this gem as "camp", get a life. Davis is at her most brilliant. She nearly matches her brilliant portrayal of a psychopathic Southern Belle, Stanley Timberlake, in the great "In This Our Life." Bravo to Bette! To new viewers, watch it alone without the wisecracks, giggles and smart inside jokes. Warner Brothers did itself and its great star proud.
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