My favorite Bette Davis movie. Bette and Claude Rains star in this 1944 masterpiece. Bette plays the beautiful turn of the century New York socialite Fanny Trellis. She has many suitors but is forced into a loveless marriage with Mr. Skeffington, to save her brother Trippy from embezzlement charges. Bette plays the role of the bitch to full tilt in this film. I don't know when she was more beautiful than in this film. Fanny is never true to Mr. Skeffington and nevers appreciates his love for her until she is old and has lost her beauty. When he returns to her as a blind old man she realizes she will still be beautiful in his sight and that his love is the true love of her life. Its slow moving and dated by todays standards. But for me its Bette at her best and I can 't ask for more than that. There is a lot going on in this movie from the shallowness of Fanny to anti semitism directed towards Mr. Skeffington. Critics have mixed opinions about this film today. But it did earn Bette an Academy Award nomination and in my opinion it is one she should have won.
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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