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Mr. Skeffington (Sous-titres franais)
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Mr. Skeffington (DVD)
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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
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... Read morePublished 23 months ago by caseygirl
this is basically a soap opera and the divine bitchy ms davis as usual plays the divine bitchy ms davis. Read morePublished on July 4 2004 by ageofanxiety
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... Read morePublished on Jan. 18 2003 by James L.
A pre World War I society beauty, self absorbed and shallow Fanny Trellis (Bette Davis), enjoys being besieged by besotted suitors. Read morePublished on Dec 3 2001 by lawyeraau
A lengthy, classy, highly enjoyable soap opera of the first calibre. Bette Davis was indeed a phenomenal performer! Read morePublished on Oct. 10 2001
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 morePublished on Sept. 7 2001 by patrick butler
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 morePublished on July 22 2001 by Rosella Ann Myles
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 morePublished on June 4 2001 by Mr. X