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Mr. Skeffington (Sous-titres franais)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Bette Davis, Claude Rains, George Coulouris
  • Directors: Vincent Sherman
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, DVD-Video, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Canadian Home Video Rating : Ages 14 and over
  • MPAA Rating: NR
  • Studio: Warner Bros. Home Video
  • Release Date: June 14 2005
  • Run Time: 146 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0008ENIDO
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Product Description

Product Description

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

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Lovins TOP 100 REVIEWER on Aug. 28 2011
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.

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

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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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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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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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