Bad Sister: Bogart And Bette Davis Together For The First Time

I recently watched the movie Bad Sister and I must say that I really enjoyed this film. At sixty eight minutes it is short and sweet. Released in 1931, it is Humphrey Bogart’s fouth film and Bette Davis’ film debut.

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The film is basically a light drama, with some added touches of comedy. The story revolves around the Madison family and their four children. Sidney Fox, as Marianne Madison, plays the title role. I guess that would make Bette Davis’ Laura Madison the Good Sister. Humphrey Bogart is fantastic as Valentine Corliss, in a supporting role. He arrives into their small town and forever changes their lives.

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For me it was great to see a young Humphrey Bogart, before he was a major star. He was just a young, good looking actor slowly climbing the ladder of success in Hollywood. Here in just his fourth film he is already a polished actor. It interesting that he is given fourth billing, below Bette Davis and Sidney Fox. Both actresses making their film debut. Bette Davis, here in her early 20’s, is solid in her role. One can detect her acting ability. However the shy, passive character that she portrays only allows for a small range of emotions.

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The whole cast is very enjoyable. Special mention should be given to ZaSu Pitts as Minnie the family maid and child actor David Durand as Hedrick, the youngest Madison sibling. Pitts is quite funny as the crabby, cantankerous maid. Durand, as Hedrick, has some funny moments. But at times his character borders on being one of the most annoying children that I have ever seen in a movie.

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Bad Sister is not a Humphrey Bogart movie, he is clearly a supporting character. He has more screen time  than I expected and he makes the most of every minute. Nor is it a Bette Davis movie. She has decent screen time, but this is really Sidney Fox’s movie. Fox has second billing but she is clearly the star of the movie.

It is very surprising that this film has not been released on DVD or Blu-ray in America. It features two of the biggest stars of old time Hollywood together early in their career. As a fan of both actors this movie did not disappoint. Including Bad Sister, Bogart and Davis appeared in six films together. The other films are Three On A Match (1932), The Petrified Forest (1936), Marked Women (1937), Kid Galahad (1937) and Dark Victory (1939). I do hope that someday soon Bad Sister will get a proper release.

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