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Beyond the Forest

“Consistently (though inadvertently) hilarious; there's not a sane dull scene in this peerless piece of camp. This is the melodrama in which Bette Davis tosses her black wig and snarls the line ‘What a dump!' - which Edward Albee took for the opening of ‘Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?' An evil Emma Bovary, she's a sloven married to a Midwestern doctor (Joseph Cotten), whom she treats abominably; every time she has a chance, she surrenders herself with hysterical enthusiasm to the hot-eyed embraces of a Chicago magnate (David Brian). Her obsession is to blow town, join her lover, and be a fancy, kept woman; she nearly obsesses the sound track with variations of ‘Chicago, Chicago.' The director, King Vidor, seems to be inventing his own brand of hog-wild Expressionism; covered with droplets of erotic sweat, Davis shakes her ample hips, kills an old man (Minor Watson), plunges down a mountainside to end an unwanted pregnancy, and dies within sight of a choo-choo pulling out for Chicago, Chicago. Max Steiner music cues her every stormy mood.”

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