Is Bette Davis Style Real?
November 30, 2010 9:47 AM   Subscribe

In the lyrics to "Desolation Row" Bob Dylan writes: Cinderella, she seems so easy “It takes one to know one,” she smiles And puts her hands in her back pockets Bette Davis style. Was that really something Bette Davis did irl or in the movies? Is there a screen shot of her doing this? Or... is this line just a piece of Mr. Dylan's fertile imagination?
posted by Xurando to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I'm guessing it's a metaphor and not literally something Bette Davis was known for. As in, like "she smiles/ and puts her hands in her back pockets/ Bette Davis style with the elegance of a timeless Hollywood star such as Bette Davis". But I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong.
posted by Sara C. at 10:11 AM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

As Margo Channing in All About Eve, she wears a black evening gown with front pockets full of witty disdain in the famous "fasten your seatbelts" party scene (1.53 into the first video, 1.18 into the second), and makes good use of them for underscoring her zingy lines, when not occupied with gin.
posted by grar at 10:23 AM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Grar, front pockets, but we're getting closer. Thanks
posted by Xurando at 10:32 AM on November 30, 2010

Dylan is subtle, but damn. I barely noticed she put her hands in her pockets in the first clip. Would have had no idea this was a notorious thing associated with Bette Davis had Grar not piped up.
posted by Sara C. at 11:03 AM on November 30, 2010

Best answer: First, it's Dylan, and he sometimes does things lyrically more for sound or evocation than accuracy [moi].

But I think he may be onto something here, not something that's really concretely known, but something subtle that Grar captures. Davis seems almost never to have been photographed wearing trousers, so back pockets are pretty much out, but she has a way of using her arms akimbo or asymmetrically arranged that's sort of distinctive and definitive.



Trousers? Half akimbo, at least.

So I think it's not so much the back pockets imagery as the akimboness, or the smoothness, and the mixture of coyness and assertiveness, that Dylan is alluding to.
posted by dhartung at 1:46 AM on December 1, 2010

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