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The Great Lie

2 Ratings: 3.5
Classics movie directed by Edmund Goulding

AN AUTHENTIC REGION 1 DVD FROM WARNER BROTHERS. SYNOPSIS: Tempestuous, ambitious concert pianist Sandra Kovac (Mary Astor) shares a bond with down-to-earth Maggie Van Allen (Bette Davis) and her little boy Pete. Sandra's chic New York friends can't imagine … see full wiki

Tags: Movies
Director: Edmund Goulding
Genre: Classics
1 review about The Great Lie

"If I didn't think you meant so well, I'd feel like slapping your face"

  • Jun 27, 2009
Rating:
+4
Bette Davis and Mary Astor duel splendidly in the 1941 melodrama THE GREAT LIE, based on a book by Polan Banks. Mild-mannered Maggie Van Allen (Davis) and flamboyant concert pianist Sandra Kovak (Astor) strike a desperate bargain when Maggie's husband Peter (George Brent)--who was also briefly married to Sandra--dies in an aeroplane accident. But Maggie's deception comes back to haunt her when Peter makes a miraculous return from the grave...

To some extent it's a re-tread of material that Davis had previously played in "The Old Maid", but THE GREAT LIE is notable for it's searing, Oscar-winning performance from Mary Astor as Sandra. Davis had personally recommended Astor for the role, aware that she had in fact studied piano and could convincingly pull off the scenes in which Sandra performs her various concertos. The one thing that Davis hated was Lenore Coffee's script ("It's soap opera drivel and it stinks in all departments!" she complained); so she enlisted Astor's help in re-tooling some of the scenes between the two women. Much of what they did on the screen was quite skillfully improvised, and the director Edmund Goulding was delighted with the resulting performances.

Of course, rumours flew that Davis was increasingly jealous that Mary Astor was stealing the entire film away from her, but Astor demurred, instead saying "She handed THE GREAT LIE to me on a silver platter". The movie showcases both ladies to their full advantage, and Davis never had a cause to worry. Davis and Astor continued a friendship right up until Astor's death; indeed, Davis pulled Astor out of retirement to play a small but very important role in the 1964 thriller "Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte".

The DVD of THE GREAT LIE is only available as part of Warner's third Bette Davis boxset, which also boasts "The Old Maid", "Watch on the Rhine", "All This, and Heaven Too", "Deception" and "In This Our Life".

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