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A governess, Henriette Deluzy, magnificently played by Bette Davis, returns to France, having accepted a position to teach the four children of the Duc and Duchesse De Praslin. The Duc, played with intense, restrained passion by the debonair Charles Boyer, is unhappily married to a self absorbed harpy who cares not a whit for her children, but is obsessed with her husband. Her obsession is such, that she appears to be mentally unbalanced.
When Ms. Deluzy joins the household, the Duchesse resents her children's growing fondness of her, as well as her husband's attentions to the children and the governess. Though clearly falling in love, the Duc and the governess maintain a completely platonic relationship at all times. Yet, the obsession of the Duchesse is such that she imagines the worst sort of affair is taking place right under her very nose. She is consumed by jealously and loses no time in making all in that household miserable.
Many months after Ms. Deluzy is forced to leave the household, the Duchesse is found murdered, and suspicion falls upon the Duc and the former governess. What happens to them will keep the viewer riveted to the screen. This is a beautifully acted film.
Bette Davis, the great doyenne of film and theatre, plays the governess in an uncharacteristally restrained fashion, using those famous orbs of hers to convey all the emotion that she feels but cannot express. She succeeds, brilliantly. Charles Boyer is a superb casting choice for the handsome, angst ridden Duc, saddled with a histrionic wife bent on making the entire family miserable.Read more ›
The movie begins with her teaching at a school for girls, where, upon learning some gossip about Bette, treat her awfully. Instead of giving up or turning to harsh tactics to control her class, she arrives one morning, and announces that she wants to tell them a story. Then after hearing her story, they can each be the judge, to decide if she is fit to teach them.
The story is one that you will not walk away from without feeling like you never want it to end. It's the kind of story that will have you so involved, it's like you yourself have been transported to France, that you are the governess, living out this story as if it were real. And you gain a whole new respect for Bette's acting. This movie is absolutely by far one of her best.
The print of the film is first rate and there is a comprehensive package of extras. Two trailers are included, one for the film itself and the other for "Dr Erlich's Magic Bullet", carefully promoted as another example of Warner's leadership in breaking new ground for the film was about finding a cure for syphilis. The Newsreel shows Ed Sullivan crowning Davis and Mickey Rooney as king and queen of Hollywood in 1940 and the technicolour short is a patriotic recruiting poster for the Navy - beautifully made but hard not to cringe today. There are 2 good cartoons included, particularly Daffy Duck trying to break into pictures and with lots of in jokes about the Warner's contract players.
A commentary is included too. For over 2 hours, Daniel Bubbeo chatters on (and on and on), repeating himself and promoting his book on the women of Warner Brothers. With such a long film, it would have been impossible for him not to have told us something about the film but the padding is endless and boring and his sing song delivery is very irritating.
The DVD is good value but better if purchased as part of the 3rd Davis Collection.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Glad Amazon has these Bette Davis movies. How about putting some on Prime?Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Love them both, Bette Davis and her costar. He's underrated, she is the best of all timePublished 5 months ago by J. Renner
Acting in this film is fantastic. Seen it many times and it is still good.Published 6 months ago by LaRueD
This is a wonderfully emothional and touching movie about love--of all kinds. I wish I had bought it..but maybe I still well,Published 7 months ago by Anna Mock
What a melodrama - Riveting!!! A story that was well directed with two of my favorite actors, Bette Davis and Charles Boyer. Read morePublished 7 months ago by A Reader