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Mr. Skeffington

Classics and Drama movie directed by Vincent Sherman

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"A woman is beautiful when she's loved, and only then..."

  • Dec 4, 2007
Earning an eighth Oscar nomination, Bette Davis boldly owns this captivating "women's picture". Playing a vain and self-centered beauty, Davis commands the screen in every possible way.

Fanny Trellis (Bette Davis), the darling of New York society, is penniless thanks to her weak-willed brother but enjoys a neverending string of male admirers traipsing through her Gramercy Park mansion. When marriage finally comes, it's more of a business arrangement. Although she's very fond of Job Skeffington (Claude Rains), Fanny will never settle down as the devoted little wife and mother. Only after a middle-aged Fanny has suffered the ravages of diphtheria will she discover the true value of love over appearances.

Bette Davis was never afraid in playing unsympathetic characters, and in Fanny she found the perfect meaty role. Layered with many shades, moods and colours, Fanny Skeffington wins hearts on and off the screen, despite her more tempestuous moments. Not the most conventional screen beauty, Davis was concerned about playing a woman famous for her looks (Irene Dunne, Merle Oberon and Hedy Lamarr were all briefly considered for Fanny). I can't imagine any of them being better than Davis.

I absolutely adore everything about MR. SKEFFINGTON, from it's lush period design to the bravura performance of Bette Davis, in what must have surely been one of her favourite roles.

The DVD includes the new documentary "Mr. Skeffington: A Picture of Strength", audio commentary with director Vincent Sherman, and the trailer. (Single-sided, dual-layer disc).

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December 03, 2011
My favorite Bette Davis movie
More Mr. Skeffington reviews
review by . December 03, 2011
Mr. Skeffington - Bette Davis and Claude Rains at their best
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 …
About the reviewer
Byron Kolln ()
Byron has been actively involved in theatre since the age of 12. He has had a great variety of roles (both on-stage and off). In addition he has hosted the long-running "Show Business" programme … more
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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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Director: Vincent Sherman
Genre: Classics, Drama
DVD Release Date: June 14, 2005
Runtime: 145 minutes
Studio: Warner Home Video
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