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Mr. Skeffington (DVD)
Bette Davis stars as a beautiful but vain society woman who, to pay herbrother's gambling debts, marries a financier she does not love--Mr.Skeffington.The marriage does not last, and the former Mrs. Skeffingtonflits from beau to beau casually leaving a trail of broken hearts. Butwhen she contracts a near-fatal case of diphtheria, her beauty isdestroyed by the terrible scars left by the disease. Now middle-aged,scarred and unable to win men's hearts with her beauty, she finallyfinds love with the now-blind man she had wed years before--Mr.Skeffington]]>
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
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This is a very good film and i like it very much but for me it is not quite in the league with Now Voyager, Dark Victory or All About Eve. Fanny Trellis is always presented as a vain and unpleasant airhead and I can never drum up any sympathy for her. I know it should not be necessary to like or root for a central character, but this character, who lacks intelligence and charm, I find a total zero. Then there is Bette Davis' performance. She could assume mannerisms at times and here she affects an odd and grating voice and manner of talking that takes its toll, considering she is the focus of nearly every scene. Finally, the choice of Bette Davis to play Fanny was an odd one for Warner Brothers. Fanny isn't supposed to be just charming but such a radiant beauty that men constantly swarm around her and constantly propose to her. Her incredible beauty is, in fact, her only quality, and her vanity the source of her downfall. In other words, her beauty is the source of the entire plot, and I just can't see her as all that beautiful. She had character, yes. What is considered beauty changes over time, true. But I don't think Bette Davis would ever be the ravishing beauty the character is supposed to be in this film. I realize this is very subjective and others may feel differently.Warner's originally chose Merle Oberon for the role but she turned it down.
Bette does her best and in the end I went along with her because her acting is that good, but it would have been a much more comprehensible film if the beauty angle had been toned down a bit.
She contracts diphtheria and loses her facial beauty. The hordes of men disappear from her life, and she has to learn to live with herself. She ultimately finds her way back to Job Skeffington and learns what love really is.
Bette Davis is fantastic in this.
Bette Davis has never played a bigger bitch, self absorbed, narcisstic, thinking only of herself and her vain
youth trying deperately to hang on to every strand of her looks to attract men.
Claude Raines should have received an Academy Award for is performance as the husband that was married only for his money and then cast aside like kleenex. I don't think there is a performance out there that could compare with the performance he gave in this film.
Altho the years have past, you can see why Davis was the star that she was and she was a STAR of all STARS.
There is a scene between Mr. Skeffington and his young daughter, who has already realized that her mother cares nothing about her. Fannie (Davis) has filed for divorce and has realized that she will be stuck with the daughter according to law and has asked Skeffington is this true? He confirms that is usually the way the law works.
Fannie ask that Skeffington deals with this. She suggest he take his daughter out to dinner and explain the ins and out of divorce. Skeffington ask that she wear her blue organza because she so looks like her mother.
In the restaurant Young Fannie begs then pleads with her father to let her live with him. She will do anything just to live with him, anything. Raines interpretation of this scene between him and the daughter is beyond anything I have ever witnessed on the screen. The man was a genuis at acting.
don't miss this movie.