Hollywood is a place where sometimes bad things happen to good people. "The Cabin in the Cotton" was written by Paul Green, the first famous Southern playwright, who had won the Pulitzer Prize for drama just five years before; this was his first of only a few film scripts. One he wrote a little later was "State Fair" which was remade twice and did a good deal better than this melodramatic turkey. "The Cabin in the Cotton" just stinks of compromise; Green was ready to give America a real Southern story of some kind, but Hollywood couldn't deliver whatever that was, and this muddled effort is what Warner Bros. and Green managed to hammer out in the end. The worst decision was to cast name star Richard Barthlemess in the male lead. The characterization/situation is a little like his role in Tol'able David, made a decade earlier, and Warners was clearly counting on the memories of that very popular picture to drive interest in it. But Barthlemess is way too old for the role, and still employs silent film acting techniques -- heavily lidded eyes, jutting out his chin etc. - in the entirely unworkable context of sound. Even director Michael Curtiz seems off his game here, although there are individual visual moments of great beauty, he's not handling the actors very effectively, a common complaint lodged by contemporary reviewers against the director of "Casablanca." However, the news isn't all bad - this was one of Bette Davis' first films and she makes the most of it -- she's cast as a spoiled rotten wealthy Southern girl with a big mouth and a mean spirited attitude who makes a play for the hero. Needless to say, Miss Davis doesn't have any trouble with this role, and she is the main - perhaps the only - reason to watch "The Cabin in the Cotton."