Dark Victory: The Life of Bette Davis

dvEd Sikov

Henry Holt & Co., Oct 2007

Kindle ed, 512 pages, also in hardcover and paperback

Genre(s) Memoirs/Bios

Source Amazon


The legendary Hollywood star blazes a fiery trail in this enthralling portrait of a brilliant actress and the movies her talent elevated to greatness

She was magnificent and exasperating in equal measure. Jack Warner called her “an explosive little broad with a sharp left.” Humphrey Bogart once remarked, “Unless you’re very big she can knock you down.” Bette Davis was a force of nature—an idiosyncratic talent who nevertheless defined the words “movie star” for more than half a century and who created an extraordinary body of work filled with unforgettable performances.

In Dark Victory, the noted film critic and biographer Ed Sikov paints the most detailed picture ever delivered of this intelligent, opinionated, and unusual woman who was—in the words of a close friend—”one of the major events of the twentieth century.” Drawing on new interviews with friends, directors, and admirers, as well as archival research and a fresh look at the films, this stylish, intimate biography reveals Davis’s personal as well as professional life in a way that is both revealing and sympathetic. With his wise and well-informed take on the production and accomplishments of such movie milestones as Jezebel, All About Eve, and Now, Voyager, as well as the turbulent life and complicated personality of the actress who made them, Sikov’s Dark Victory brings to life the two-time Academy Award–winning actress’s unmistakable screen style, and shows the reader how Davis’s art was her own dark victory.

The Author:

My Disclaimer:

I purchased this book at full price on Amazon. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.

~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review: ✰✰✰⭒

I have always admired Bette Davis and her work. To me, she is the ultimate movie star, whether it be All About Eve or Death on the Nile. No matter who else is in the movie, she is the star.

I figured she would have been a difficult person to work with, and evidently, she was. She claims to have only argued for things that would make the film better. Never for more screen time for herself or such things. And there was no evidence to support such in any of what Mr. Sikov provided.

Mr. Sikov is gay and seems to jump on every possible mention of gay or lesbian behavior with a reference. I’m not sure they are all worth mentioning unless you happen to be focused on that community.

The book is broken into three sections. Sections one and two are done in brief accounts of her earliest years when she had to fight for everything she got and then the middle years once she had been recognized as the strong actress she was and had some control. This covered lots of name dropping, which was appropriate due to the nature of the business. It also covered brief accounts of the arguments and fighting that went on over each of her films.

Section Three is called Ongoing Conflicts and gets into the long term battles Ms. Davis had in Hollywood and her family issues. Her infamous difference with Joan Crawford was dealt with concisely and well, but there were plenty of other arguments and fights Ms. Davis got into. It seemed there were very few people she didn’t argue with, especially professionally. Unfortunately, her family life wasn’t much better. In fact, at times, it seems it was worse.

Bette’s father was a distant man and disappeared from the family’s lives early. Her mother, Ruthie, became a silhouette photographer to take care of Bette and her sister, Bobby. Once Bette started making money, her mother never worked again. Her sister had to be institutionalized numerous times for mental illness. Bette was married four times. She had several abortions due to conflicts with her filming schedules. She and her last husband adopted two children. One of them turned out to have mental illness and required institutionalization for her and others safety. She did have one child of her own at the age of 39, a girl she named B.D. (beady).

Sometimes this is all related in short accounts stuffed with information about each movie Ms. Davis was in, as in the first and second sections. Or, they were parts of gossipy chatty sessions in the third section. Several times I thought the book was at the end only to have the author pick up again with more of the details for a story I’d thought done.

I’ve never read other books about Ms. Davis, so I have nothing to compare it with. I have read other biographies, but not of quite such big stars, though Marilyn Monroe comes close. I was frustrated with the constant going back to stories. I think I would have preferred a more linear approach to her story. And I feel as if I needed a little black book to keep track of all the addresses for Ms. Davis. If you happen to read this, please let me know your thoughts about it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑


just me, waffling on about knitting, crochet and life

Tin Can Knits

modern seamless knits for the whole family

Knitting in the Park

A blog about knitting, homemaking and creative living


Patterns, projects and techniques

The Ramblings of a Knitting Goddess

I knit. I laugh. I dream.

Eliza Vs. The World

How far I've come and how much I still have to learn

The Snowless Knitter

Adventures in life and knitting in a warm weather climate

Le Petit Saint Crochet

Making small things with great love

the twisted yarn

Knitting, crochet, running, and silliness.


Noli domo egredi, nisi librum habes – Never leave home without a book.

Elite Star

Miles to go..


Award Winning UKYA Book Blogger, Book Reviews, Writing and Life

Just Nita

"A Positive Push"

The Art of Blogging

For bloggers who aspire to inspire

the Little Red Reviewer

Book Reviews: Scifi, Fantasy, and the stuff in between


Video Game Reviews and Discussions

The Bibliophagist

Reviewing young adult, new adult, and romance since 2013.

Just saying

A bored mum and wife with lots on her mind

must love reviews

Where books come to be loved

Itinerant Muse, L.L.C.

Content Writing & Proofreading Services

The Godly Chic Diaries



A land of ineptitude.

The Budding Ken

opening the mind and heart through poetry

Down the Rabbit Hole with Sir LeprechaunRabbit

Serious about Genealogy? Let this Olde Grey hare show you about


Learning how to live well with chronic illnesses.

Spellbound Librarian

A lover of magical books : Book reviews, and general book rambling


Garden of thoughts.


One Woman Army and A Dog

Readin' Under Street-Lamps

everything books, served with a side of sarcasm.

Uptown Oracle

Books, Beauty and Lifestyle.

Passionately Perusing

Librarian. Book blogger. Reader


The Day's Most Fascinating News


art. popular since 10,000 BC

Life in prison...

It certainly wasn’t on my bucket list but it happened! Here are my stories of what life is like for women in prison xoxo

The Bibliofile

Book Reviews, Books, Bestsellers, Literary Fiction

Life Has a Funny Way

Reviews of all the latest YA, Fantasy, Crime and Chic Lit novels

Quirky Reviews

Sleep is good, she said, and books are better


I only write what I'm inspired to, everything else seems mediocre

Charlie De Luca- Author

On life, writing and horses!


Exploring an Arts & Sciences Education


Book Reviews and More

The Daily Tales of Gregg Savage

Every day, I write a unique story for you to share and enjoy.

My Spirals

• Hugs and Infinities

Poesy plus Polemics

Words of Wonder, Worry and Whimsy

A Writer's Soul

"Diving into a writers soul is discovering the broken treasure and beautiful mysteries that make you gasp for air."

the poet's billow

a resource for moving poetry

%d bloggers like this: