Saturday, April 5, 2014

Happy birthday, Bette Davis

I love Bette Davis and nothing strengthened this more than her appearance at the Oscars sometime in the late 1980s. She was feeble and had grave health issues and they wheeled her out to announce the nominations of ... well, that's it, I can't remember. I can't remember because most Oscar nominees are soon filed away and forgotten, regardless of their work's worth but I also cant remember because of the way she showed that she didn't want to be there. The audience gave her a standing ovation which must have been deafening. She had a task to do and their obliterating love was preventing it. She waited for a few long screen seconds  before thanking them. This only encouraged the applause and it seemed to double in intensity. So she thanked them again and again and again in the clipped acidic tone she had used to reduce her screen antagonists to shivering silence, each syllable honed like a sabre: Thththth-ankk you thank you thank you thththththtannnnk you THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU .. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU - her face wide eyed with anger. They shut up. She read the nominations. For some reason she didn't read the next list of names assigned her but kept silent, knowing that that was better than fumbling through it and perhaps also knowing that the silence would shut the lot of them up and let her get back home to her pain killers and sleep. That big glittery silence of an auditorium filled with appearances and insincerity shoved some real discomfort into the air. And she exited stage right, went home and never came back. That's how you leave Hollywood!

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