Sunday, 4 April 2010

Knitting Before and Behind the Camera

I mentioned my fondness for old films some time ago here, and named Bette Davis as one of my favourite actresses. Apart from all of the legendary lines she delivered and her place in film history (not only as an actress), she was a keen knitter. April 5 would have been, her 102nd birthday so I would like to feature her in different photos that I have studied for information about knitting in her lifetime. There is a tad of knitting history if we look at her knitting bags such as the one on her lap in the photo of her in sunglasses on the set of, I am guessing, The Old Maid. I also always try to get a good look at her needles in the films where we do see her knitting.

Here she is knitting off-camera with co-star Ann Sheridan (who appears to be crocheting) on the set of The Man Who Came to Dinner.

I haven’t watched Now Voyager for some time but I do seem to remember an early pivotal knitting scene as well as knitting while cruising later on in the film.

She also knit in Phone Call From a Stranger.

Look at the knitting container (case/bag/cylinder – what was this called?) next to her as she works on a contribution for the Red Cross during World War II. If she was knitting in between takes in this photograph, I have yet to identify the film.

Bette Davis’s most famous filmed handwork, though, must be the crocheted lace she worked on throughout the film, The Letter. She is seen here, crocheting on that set, alongside her stand-in, Sally Sage, who is knitting an Argyle sock. I wish we could see their work bag and basket more clearly.

Davis’s character’s crocheting and her supposed finished work are again, important elements in the film. I just wish, too, in this one of my favourite films, let alone favourite films of Bette Davis, that her character had, instead, been knitting lace!

Credits: Images from The Old Maid, Now Voyager, The Man Who Came to Dinner and The Letter owned by Bettman/Corbis? They can all be found on various Flickr accounts.

Image from Phone Call From a Stranger is from The Complete Films of Bette Davis by Gene Ringold, New York: Citadel Press, Inc. (1985, 1990), page 157.


That's a 7-letter Deborah, never a Deb said...

Great post! I was watching "Roberta" this weekend (Fred Astair, Irene Dunn, Ginger Rogers) and there was a knitting joke in it. I always recall Ginger knitting a dog sweater on board the boat, but can't recall the movie right now--it starts a rumor that she's pregnant.

Here's a fun pic of Hepburn knitting with Ginger:

One More Stitch said...

Thanks very much! I hadn't seen this one before and two more screen favourites of mine!

I love that film about the struggling actresses and the boarding house where KH and GR share a room. Someone else, I think, knits in that one - have to watch it again!

A Homely Heroine said...

I'm definately going to seek out some of those films, thanks!

Jane said...

The Red Cross container thing looks great.

Thanks for these lovely pics.

tia o'connor said...

I've just found your blog and added it to my feeds. In her autobiography, Peggy Guggenheim mentions that she learnt to knit wheb she was a child and never ceased knitting. Saddly, no visual examples survived :-)

One More Stitch said...

Thanks for the Peggy Guggenheim information!

Susan said...

I love watching The Letter !
One of my favorite movies !

Ariel said...

Thanks for this post. I love to spot knitting & crocheting in movies.

marne said...

Does anyone know of a pattern that exists of the bedspread Bette Davis was crocheting in “The Letter”? Is that considered lace-making or crocheting?