By the end of the 1960’s, Bette Davis big screen appearances were increasingly rare. Released in 1970, Connecting Rooms explores the relationship between three people who have rooms in a rundown London boarding house. Davis plays Wanda Fleming, a lonely cellist who is flattered by the attention of a much younger fellow tenant Mickey Hollister (Alexis Kanner) determined to make it big as a pop songwriter. A new tenant, James Wallraven (Michael Redgrave), is a former school master haunted by his past. His room is adjacent to Wanda’s, separated by a door that doesn’t lock and regularly blows open.
A man about town, Mickey inserts himself into the life of anyone who he thinks can jumpstart his career. He has his sights on pop singer Claudia Fouchet (Olga George’s Picot), hoping he can convince her to record one of his songs. Always short on cash, he relies on his friends, including Wanda, for “loans.” While he promises Wanda and the others the moon in exchange for their money, if they ever really need him, Mickey can’t be counted on.
James tries to get work as a teacher but an incident in his past makes that impossible. He eventually resigns himself to a job as a janitor in an art gallery. A sweet relationship develops between Wanda and James, two lonely people hiding a secret. They find comfort in each other, as sympathetic shyness finally gives way to the possibility of something much deeper.
Given a limited release in the United States in 1970, and not released in the United Kingdom until 1972, Connecting Rooms is not well known today despite the name recognition of Bette Davis. The film is rarely discussed in the numerous books written about Davis, either. As a longtime Bette Davis fan, Connecting Rooms would be an easy film to forget. Far from one of her best performances, Bette doesn’t even try a British to affect a British accent, her trademark clipped line delivery is a misfire. However, she does succeed in projecting Wanda’s apparently outgoing personality but latent loneliness. She sees James as a kindred soul and reaches out, even if he’s unsure at first. Davis is touching at times, but her tendency to overact and Franklin Gollings choppy dialogue undermines her efforts to make Connecting Rooms little more than a welcome curiosity for Bette Davis fans to add to their Blu-ray collections.
Presented in the 1.66:1 aspect ratio, Kino Lorber’s 1080p transfer is a solid one. We mentioned in David Del Valle’s audio commentary, a technique called contour color was used, which is a complete integration of action, image, music, and backdrop. Colors look appropriate, whether it’s James’s dreary room, or Wanda’s significantly more colorful one. Close-ups are MIA, likely because Davis was more than a decade older than the 50-year-old woman she was portraying. Overall, the image is sharp, with no apparent imperfections, dust, or scratches.
The DTS-HD MA Mono track provides clean, clear, and concise dialogue throughout. Effects are minimal but handled well. Olga Georges-Picot performs a couple of songs to illustrate the popularity of her character. While the mix handles them well, the songs themselves are very dated.
English SDH subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
- Audio Commentary with Film Historian David Del Valle
Connecting Rooms (1970)
Movie title: Connecting Rooms
Duration: 103 min
Director(s): Franklin Gollings
Actor(s): Bette Davis, Michael Redgrave , Kay Walsh , Alexis Kanner , Leo Genn , Olga Georges-Picot