Friday, April 08, 2022

Bette Davis in James Baldwin and Gwendolyn Brooks

On his 14th birthday, John Grimes in James Baldwin's "Go Tell It on the Mountain" (1953) spends his birthday money from his mother on a movie with a "gigantic, colored poster" of "a wicked woman, half undressed, leaning in a doorway, apparently quarrelling with a blond man." Although the novel does not name the film, it is "Of Human Bondage" (1934), starring Bette Davis and Leslie Howard. The same actress is mentioned in Gwendolyn Brooks's "Maud Martha" (also 1953) as one topic of discussion among Maud Martha's Chicago schoolmates, who spoke "of Joe Louis, of ice cream, of bicycles, of baseball, of teachers, of examinations, of Duke Ellington, of Bette Davis." (Andrew Shields, #111words, 8 April 2022)

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