The Bad Sister 1931 Starring Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart, Sydney Fox.

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Bad Sister is a 1931 American pre-Code drama film directed by Hobart Henley. The screenplay by Edwin H. Knopf, Tom Reed, and Raymond L. Schrock is based on the 1913 novel The Flirt by Booth Tarkington, which had been filmed in 1916 and 1922.

It is said that one of her real true loves was director William Wyler but he was married and refused to leave his wife.

The film marks the screen debuts of Bette Davis and Sidney Fox, who was billed over Davis. The cast also includes Humphrey Bogart and ZaSu Pitts in supporting roles. Bad Sister has been preserved in the Library of Congress collection. Ruth Elizabeth “Bette” Davis was an American actress with a career spanning more than 50 years and 100 acting credits. 

On her sarcophagus is written “She did it the hard way”. She credited her writer/director from All About Eve (1950) Joseph L. Mankiewicz for coming up with the line.

Ruth Elizabeth Davis was born April 5, 1908, in Lowell, Massachusetts, to Ruth Augusta (Favor) and Harlow Morrell Davis, a patent attorney. Her parents divorced when she was 10. She and her sister were raised by their mother. Her early interest was dance. To Bette, dancers led a glamorous life, but then she discovered the stage, and gave up dancing for acting. To her, it presented much more of a challenge.

Director Steven Spielberg won the Christie’s auction of her 1938 Best Actress Oscar for Jezebel (1938) for $578,000. He then gave it to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. [July 2001]

After graduation from Cushing Academy, she was refused admittance to Eva Le Gallienne‘s Manhattan Civic Repertory. She enrolled in John Murray Anderson‘s Dramatic School and was the star pupil. She was in the off-Broadway play “The Earth Between” (1923), and her Broadway debut in 1929 was in “Broken Dishes”. She also appeared in “Solid South”. Late in 1930, she was hired by Universal, where she made her first film, called Bad Sister (1931). When she arrived in Hollywood, the studio representative who went to meet her train left without her because he could find no one who looked like a movie star. An official at Universal complained she had “as much sex appeal as Slim Summerville” and her performance in “Bad Sister” didn’t impress.

While she was the star pupil at John Murray Anderson‘s Dramatic School in New York, another of her classmates was sent home because she was “too shy”. It was predicted that this girl would never make it as an actress. The girl was Lucille Ball.

  • The original title for Bad Sister during production was What a Flirt and then briefly changed to Gambling Daughters just before the film’s nationwide release.[3]
  • Bette Davis, nervous about her appearance in her first feature film, consulted with studio makeup chief Jack Pierce, who “surveyed me critically, almost resentfully,” she recalled for an interview in the April 1938 issue of Good Housekeeping. “Your eyelashes are too short, hair’s a nondescript color, and mouth’s too small. A fat little Dutch girl’s face, and a neck that’s too long,” he told her. He suggested a different shade of lipstick and advised her to use eye shadow, but their meeting left Davis feeling anxious and lacking self-confidence. After seeing the completed film, producer Carl Laemmle, Jr. commented, “Can you imagine some poor guy going through hell and high water and ending up with her at the fade-out?” [3]
  • Davis was required to change a baby in one scene, and the fact the infant was a boy was kept secret from her. When she undid the diaper and saw male genitals for the first time in her life, she was so embarrassed her face reddened enough to look deep gray on the production’s black-and-white film.[3]
  • Davis and her mother attended a preview of the film in San Bernardino, California. The actress was reportedly so distressed by her performance that they left before the final credits. Certain her Hollywood career was over, she cried all the way home.[3]


David Durand (July 27, 1920 – July 25, 1998) was an American actor. He appeared in the films Get Your ManTropic MadnessInnocents of ParisSong of LoveLadies Love BrutesThe Jazz CinderellaBad SisterThe SpyRich Man’s FollyProbationForbidden CompanySilver DollarThe Great JasperSon of the BorderThe Life of Jimmy DolanJennie GerhardtCradle SongAs the Earth TurnsViva Villa!Hat, Coat, and GloveWednesday’s ChildLittle MenThe Band Plays OnWells FargoScouts to the RescueOff the RecordStreets of New YorkBoys’ ReformatoryGolden GlovesThe Tulsa KidHarmon of MichiganKid DynamiteKeep ‘Em SluggingMr. Muggs Steps OutMillion Dollar Kid and Follow the Leader, among others.[1]

Durand served in the United States Army during World War II. He died on July 25, 1998, in Bridgeview, Illinois at age 77.[2]


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