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Mr. Skeffington

Bette Davis , Claude Rains , Vincent Sherman    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
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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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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By J. Lovins TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
Warner Bros. Pictures presents "MR. SKEFFINGTON" (1944) (145 min/B&W) -- Starring: Bette Davis, Claude Rains, Walter Abel, George Coulouris, Richard Waring, Marjorie Riordan, Robert Shayne, John Alexander, Jerome Cowan, Johnny Mitchell, Dorothy Peterson, Peter Whitney, Bill Kennedy

Directed by Vincent Sherman

The incomparable Bette Davis and the always-charming Claude Rains, in one of those good, solid melodramas - they make quite a marvelous screen pair, both pros from the old school of acting. Their voices, accents, speech patterns are classic, also mesmerizing in this film.

"Mr. Skeffington" is a classic. The film is over two hours, it keeps your interest and a worthwhile film to see. It also features excellent performances by Walter Abel, George Coulouris, and Marjorie Riordan.

Nominated Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Claude Rains), Best Actress in a Leading Role (Bette Davis)

Another in a long list of wonderful melodramas, "Mr. Skeffington" is a very good classic film that I fear has been forgotten throughout the years. Its performances and adequately compelling story are enough to recommend it to classic film lovers, particularly those who are fans of Bette Davis or Claude Rains.

* Special Footnote: -- Bette Davis was not the first choice for the role of Fanny. The part was first offered first to Merle Oberon and then to Hedy Lamarr who both turned it down.

** Another Special Footnote: -- Bette Davis' final Oscar-nominated performance while under contract with Warner Brothers.

BIOS:
1. Vincent Sherman [aka: Abraham Orovitz] (Director)
Date of Birth: 16 July 1906 - Vienna, Georgia
Date of Death: 18 June 2006 - Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California

2.
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4.0 out of 5 stars OLD MOVIE BUT WITH A MESSAGE FOR TODAY Feb. 26 2014
By caseygirl TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is a good old movie, in black and white. Bette Davis is very good as Mrs. Skeffington. She is incredibly beautiful and men are flocking all around her continually, but this is when she is young. Then as the story progresses she ages and her beauty fades. It is a hard lesson for her to learn, that she is no longer the incredibly beautiful woman she once was. This is a lesson for every one at every age. Beauty fades. Meantime her husband Mr. Skeffington remains by her side through all the ups and downs. the end is very poignant. I recommend this movie!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Claude Rains Helps To Salvage It Jan. 18 2003
Format:VHS Tape
Whether you are going to enjoy or get into this film depends on a few factors. First of all, you must believe that every man is tripping over himself to win the hand of the woman considered the most beautiful and desirable in New York, Bette Davis. Now Davis was certainly attractive, but it's a real stretch to consider her that kind of once-in-a-lifetime beauty. You must then be willing to spend two and a half hours watching a vain, self-centered woman use her beauty, abuse her family, and then try to find sympathy for her when irony deals her exactly what she deserves. Obviously, I had some problems with this film. It tells the story of Fanny Trellis who later becomes Fanny Skeffington, the object of every man's affections, who can't see beyond her own mirror to see the events of the world or the pain she causes others. She marries Claude Rains for money and security for her family, but her marriage unravels and eventually so does her beauty. The character of Fanny is not sympathetic, and I found it hard to get past that, although thankfully she does have a sense of humour, which helps. Davis, using a higher pitched voice, doesn't shrink away from portraying Fanny as she is, and her appearance as the older Fanny is startling given how we know she aged in real life. Rains is his excellent self as usual in this film, really capturing the heart of the story. Not surprisingly, his absence from most of the last half of the film hurt it for me, as I found it long and badly in need of editing. There are some good moments in the film, but since I found little to like in the central character, there wasn't much else except Rains to appreciate.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent Performances, Nauseating Message Aug. 20 2002
Format:VHS Tape
From her first appearance as Fanny Trellis Skeffington, Bette Davis--never pretty--completely persuades the viewer that she is a great beauty. Claude Rains is patient and endearing as her beleaguered husband. But the movie is simply too long and suffers from seemingly endless repetition of its heavy-handed and offensive message: "A woman is only beautiful when she is loved."
At the end, when Fanny's beauty has at last eroded (due to illness, not a lack of affection from suitors, which seems to be something of a contradiction), she at last finds love for her long-suffering husband. But it's awfully convenient that she develops an appreciation for him only after he is blinded, and cannot what she looks like.
The Holocaust figures briefly but significantly in the movie. Although its horrors are never seen directly, the mention of concentration camps and Nazi brutality is noteworthy in a movie made in 1944. Apparently _somebody_ knew what was happening in Europe, and knew well enough to include it in a movie before the war had ended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Mr. Skeffington: Blindness is the Theme July 6 2002
Format:VHS Tape
Fanny is a young and beautiful woman of the early 1920s who possesses enormous qualities of face and figure much admired by her many suitors. Unfortunately, she also possesses a gigantic ego matched only by a blind spot to the feelings of others, a lack of basic empathy of which she is readily aware. Bette Davis, in MR. SKEFFINGTON, cuts a stark image of the vain and silly socialite wanna-be who knows that her looks are the means to climb to the top of the social eating chain. This movie is more than a female version of the then popular 'pull yourself up by your bootstraps' story. The bootstraps that Fanny uses are a formidable array of beauty aids, which when allied to a perfect pitch of tone and voice, make her irresistable to nearly every man she meets. She dates many who see her only as the image she so carefully nurtures. She turns down all of them except for an aging and wealthy financier, Mr. Skeffington, played superbly by Claude Rains, an actor who has made a career of playing the educated and glib second banana to the lead. Here Rains is under no illusions about Fanny. He is well aware that she is a totally unreliable flirt who seeks flattery the way most others seek food and drink. Yet, there is something that he does see within her that he likes, enough at any rate to fall in love with her and propose. Fanny sees a rich old man whom she can control at will, so she accepts. They marry and the marriage goes pretty much the way that he thought. She continues her affairs, often right under his nose, yet he waits patiently for the loving woman he feels sure lurks somewhere in her soul. He also waits for some affirmation of his own worth. He gets none. The years pass, they have a daughter, also called Fanny, whom he adores, but she ignores. Read more ›
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars looking back at the inimitable claude rains
this is basically a soap opera and the divine bitchy ms davis as usual plays the divine bitchy ms davis. Read more
Published on July 4 2004 by ageofanxiety
4.0 out of 5 stars Eerie Foreshadowing of Bette's Future
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... Read more
Published on Dec 20 2001 by Linda McDonnell
5.0 out of 5 stars EPIC DRAMA AT ITS FINEST...
A pre World War I society beauty, self absorbed and shallow Fanny Trellis (Bette Davis), enjoys being besieged by besotted suitors. Read more
Published on Dec 3 2001 by Lawyeraau
4.0 out of 5 stars BETTE BERNHARDT
A lengthy, classy, highly enjoyable soap opera of the first calibre. Bette Davis was indeed a phenomenal performer! Read more
Published on Oct. 10 2001 by "scotsladdie"
2.0 out of 5 stars disappointing for such a gifted cast
watching this movie i expected a five star rating (at least!) for such a distingushed cast, but instead its a jumble of bad story lines mixed into one. Read more
Published on Sept. 7 2001 by patrick butler
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful movie!
I am a big fan of Bette Davis films,and this in my opinion is one of her best. She gives a wonderful and memorable performance. Read more
Published on July 23 2001 by Rosella Ann Myles
5.0 out of 5 stars Bette's Best!
Bette Davis shines in this movie, which in my opinion is the greatest work that she has ever done. She plays a great roll, the whole way through, while never letting her audience... Read more
Published on June 4 2001 by Mr. X
4.0 out of 5 stars Bette and Rains are superb
This is an overly long melodrama, utterly dated and in desperate need of an editor's scissors. Yet the performances of Bette Davis and the incomparable Claude Rains transform it... Read more
Published on July 22 2000 by Candace Scott
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