Gay Icons: Bette Davis (Part 3) inA Stolen Life
A Stolen Life (1946)
A Stolen Life can never be called a great film but it is one of the most fascinating and enjoyable pictures Bette Davis ever made. Bette played twin sisters, Pat and Kate Bosworth, who were both in love with Bill Emerson, played by Glenn Ford. The Bosworth girls could not be more different. Kate is quiet and sincere while Pat is a sexually promiscuous lady who takes one look at hunky Bill and steals him from her prim sister.
A Stolen Life was the only film that Davis ever produced. She selected Ford (just returned from the military) as her leading man and Curtis Bernhardt as her director. With its New England setting enhanced by lots of fog, and a beautiful Max Steiner score, this film is truly fascinating as Davis does create two completely different characters. With expert trick photography she plays scenes with herself and it looks totally real. The wonderfully melodramatic story, (SPOILER) specifically Kate pretending to be Pat in a boating accident, undergoes numerous twists and turns before everything is resolved with Bill finally realizing he truly loves the good Kate.
Favorite line in the film: When asked if she is from Portland, Maine or Portland, Oregon, Davis replies, "To a Yankee there is only one Portland." As Davis was born in New England and later lived in Maine, she puts a stunning emphasis on this seemingly innocuous line.
Davis looks great in this movie and it really is her last glamorous role at Warner Bros. She got married and gave birth to the hideous B.D. the following year. She still looks pretty good in Deception, made during her pregnancy in 1946, but when she returned in Winter Meeting she looked decidedly middle aged. So we can blame B.D. for a great many things, not just the lousy book she wrote about Davis that broke her mother’s heart.
Davis would play twins again in the 1964 thriller Dead Ringer, but if you want to see double get A Stolen Life. She and the film are really fun and the supporting cast of Glenn Ford (truly beautiful in 1946) and Walter Brennan make this a must-see for Davis fans.
Read Mike's tribute to Joan Crawford.