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Mr. Skeffington


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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Mr. Skeffington (DVD)

Amazon.com

Fanny Skeffington, an incorrigible society flirt of the WWI era, was one of the meatiest roles and most exasperating women Bette Davis ever played. Flighty Fanny loves the attention of her male suitors, but marries the steadfast Jewish financier Job Skeffington (Claude Rains) for security; long after their wedding day, she still enjoys receiving gentlemen callers. Time catches up with Fanny, of course, and the bills are due by the time World War II rolls around.

Mr. Skeffington is a vintage Warner Bros. workout for Davis, who never shied away from playing unsympathetic or physically unappealing roles. (Her main worry here was looking pretty enough in the early reels to justify Fanny's reputation.) Her theatrical performance and Rains's impeccable work carry the handsomely dressed story through its many melodramatic shifts. The dialogue by Julius and Philip Epstein (who were doing Casablanca around this time) has the sprung rhythm of screwball comedy, although director Vincent Sherman and the cast don't always seem to have noticed this. There's also the growing issue of anti-Semitism--a subject rare in Hollywood prior to this--especially as it concerns Fanny and Job's daughter. But mostly the film has Bette Davis, who strides headfirst into the gray areas (her indifferent treatment of her daughter is especially unappetizing), a fearless attitude that looks like the polar opposite of Fanny Skeffington's vanity. --Robert Horton


Special Features

Featurette: New Featurette; Mr. Skeffington: The Big Picture Featurette: New Featurette; Mr. Skeffington: The Big Picture Featurette: New Featurette; Mr. Skeffington: The Big Picture

Product Details

  • Actors: Bette Davis, Claude Rains, Walter Abel, George Coulouris, Richard Waring
  • Directors: Vincent Sherman
  • Writers: Julius J. Epstein, Philip Epstein
  • Producers: Jack L. Warner, Julius J. Epstein, Philip Epstein
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Closed-captioned, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: June 14, 2005
  • Run Time: 146 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (134 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0008ENIDO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,660 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Mr. Skeffington" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

A tour-de-force performance by Bette Davis and Claude Rains.
Roman
This movie really is a masterpiece, though, and it has a wonderful happy ending that will make you cry tears of joy!
Joan Crawford
Fanny proceeds to spend her life charming new suitors and having love affairs.
Lawyeraau

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 3, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
A pre World War I society beauty, self absorbed and shallow Fanny Trellis (Bette Davis), enjoys being besieged by besotted suitors. She simply cannot make up her mind whom to marry. She finally ends up choosing one of the unlikeliest of men, one who was not even aa avowed suitor, the enormously wealthy Job Skeffington (Claude Rains). Her reasons for marrying the enormously wealthy and jewish Mr. Skeffington are linked to something disgraceful her ne'er do well brother did.
Mr. Skeffington provides Fanny with a good life and simply adores her, tolerating her flirtations with other men as simply something Fanny's vanity requires. They have a child, a daughter, also named Fanny, whom Mr. Skeffington adores. Fanny, however, loves only herself. When Fanny's brother, who had objected to her marriage and had run off to fight in World War I, is killed in action, Fanny blames her marriage to Mr. Skeffington as the catalyst for his death. From that point on, the marriage takes a nosedive.
Fanny proceeds to take her flirtations beyond the bounds of propriety, and Mr. Skeffington also looks for greener pastures elsewhere, as his is a loveless home. They end up having an open marriage that ultimately ends up in divorce. Mr. Skeffington takes custody of their daughter, when Fanny voluntarily seeks to relinquish custody, as she does not want the responsibility. Fanny proceeds to spend her life charming new suitors and having love affairs. She tries to turn back the hands of time, lavishing much time and effort in remaining youthful in her appearance. Meanwhile, Mr. Skeffington and their daughter spend years living abroad in Europe, until he sends their now grown daughter to live with Fanny just before the outbreak of World War II due to the growing Nazi menace, while he stays behind in Berlin.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Killian HALL OF FAME on March 11, 2005
Format: VHS Tape
Vincent Sherman is generally underrated and people seem to prefer William Wyler as a director, but to me Sherman gives you the real 100 proof Bette Davis (as well as many other actresses he worked with during a very up and down career). Wyler seems so labored next to Sherman's X-Ray intensity, like he's shooting the film lit only by occasional flashes of lightning. MR SKEFFINGTON, with its teasing title, is one of his very best pictures.

Bette Davis evidently persuades about half the people watching the movie that she is or was a great beauty. That's a sign of good acting, even if she can't sway the other fifty percent from thinking her a fraud. Fanny is one of Davis' great creations, even if you don't buy into her beauty, for she makes you believe in her self-absorption, and the exquisite narcissism which draws men toward her like moths. And yet Fanny has an Achilles heel of her own--two really, if you count the way her self-worth is totally indexed into her good looks, so it must inevitably suffer with the passing of time. But her real weakness is her crazy love for her brother, the indolent character played by Richard Waring in this film, with the Cockettes-style name of "Trippy Trellis." As many have noted, it's hard to take a guy seriously in the movie if his name is "Trippy Trellis." Waring is good in the part, and I wonder why his US career was so curtailed. Maybe it was the curse of that tremulous name.

As for Claude Rains, he lives up to the title role every bit as splendidly as he filled the shoes of "The Invisible Man." There's a bit of the invisible in his performance, isn't there, in the way he retreats towards the wallpaper when Fanny takes every inch of air in the room.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Linda McDonnell on December 20, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
I had seen "Mr. Skeffington" quite a few times as a child--it was on Sunday afternoons every once in a while--but it was only when I saw it again as an adult in a revival house only a couple of years ago that I knew it to be an ironic look into Bette's fate, at least appearance-wise.
Bette plays the vain famous beauty Fanny Skeffington, who never develops her interior life because she is fixated on her own good looks. Her NY mansion is crowded with portraits of her beauty and of course, mirrors--lots and lots of mirrors. As the years go by, she has a sort of Dorian Gray (or Dick Clark?) experience of looking youthful even when she actually no longer is young. But then, she contracts diptheria, and loses her looks overnight. From being a beauty, she is transformed into an old lady, older looking than she really is, even.
Now here is where I find the Eerie Foreshadowing. There is a scene of Fanny in her bedroom after the illness, sans any of the makeup and wigs she has had to order and slather on herself. Son of a gun, if she didn't look just like Bette Davis did eventually look towards the end of her life! But that's where the comparison between role and real life end. Whereas Fanny is crushed by the loss of her beauty and can barely look her old husband and suitors in the face, Bette Davis proved to be made of stronger stuff. Facially disfiguring stoke and ravaging breast cancer notwithstanding, Bette didn't hide from the camera and the world; she came right out on Academy Award night for all the world to see. A truly gutsy lady. Interestingly enough, it was Marlene Dietrich who was more like Fanny, granting Maxmillian Schell's request to interview her for a documentary on the condition that she not be filmed to reveal what she looked like as an old woman.
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