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Mr. Skeffington

title card from the film's promotional trailer
Directed by Vincent Sherman
Produced by Julius J. Epstein
Philip G. Epstein
Jack L. Warner
Written by Elizabeth von Arnim
Julius J. Epstein
Philip G. Epstein
Starring Bette Davis
Claude Rains
Music by Franz Waxman
Paul Dessau
Cinematography Ernest Haller
Editing by Ralph Dawson
Distributed by Warner Brothers
Release date(s) 1944
Running time 145 min.
Country USA
Language English
IMDb profile

Mr. Skeffington is a 1944 film which portrays a woman whose many love affairs cost her the love of her husband and her daughter. It stars Bette Davis, Claude Rains, Walter Abel, George Coulouris and Richard Waring. The movie was adapted by Julius J. Epstein and Philip G. Epstein from the novel by Elizabeth von Arnim. The movie was directed by Vincent Sherman.


[edit] Plot

Davis as Fanny
Davis as Fanny

Bette Davis plays the spoiled Fanny Trellis growing up in the early 1900s. She is a renowned beauty and has many suitors. She loves her brother Trippy (Richard Waring) and would do anything to help him. Mr. Job Skeffington (Claude Rains) is a stockbroker who employs Trippy. When Fanny learns that Trippy has embezzled money, she decides to marry Mr. Skeffington to save her brother.

The plot centers around their loveless marriage and Fanny's aging. Mr Skeffington loves Fanny, knowing all along that the feeling isn't mutual because Fanny all but ignores him and enjoys playing the wealthy socialite, stringing along a series of unsuitable and much younger lovers. Lonely, Skeffington finds solace with his secretaries. When Fanny finds out, she divorces him, conveniently ignoring her own extramarital activities. Her daughter, also called Fanny, begs her father to take her with him to Europe and he agrees - Fanny is relieved to be free of her daughter. Fanny continues with a series of affairs, spending the extremely generous settlement Job has left her and neglecting her daughter whom she doesn't see for years.

She retains her beauty as she grows older (much to the envy of her women acquaintances), but she catches diphtheria, which ravages her appearance. In denial, she invites her old lovers to a party. Her old suitors are shocked at how much Fanny has changed, leaving her distraught. Ironically, her latest young suitor Johnnie falls in love with her plainer, but infinitely kinder daughter, who has returned from Europe because of the rise of the Nazis. They marry and leave Fanny alone.

Skeffington is Jewish and is ultimately imprisoned in a concentration camp, where he is blinded. He survives the war penniless. When he visits Fanny, he is unable to see the effects of old age on her and still sees her as the beauty she once was. This suits a wiser, more compassionate Fanny very well. Job once told Fanny that, "no woman is beautiful until she is loved." Their life-long friend, and Fanny's cousin, George Trellis tells Fanny that, at that moment, she has never been more beautiful. And at long last, she realizes the truth of it.

[edit] Behind the scenes

According to the 1989 book Bette & Joan: The Divine Feud by Shaun Considine, Davis was going through incredible personal torments at this time, which was reflected in her treatment of co-stars on this film, and several others at the time, culminating in a vicious personal attack: apparently, while Davis was away from her dressing room, the eyewash she always used after filming the day's scenes, had been poisoned, causing Davis to scream out in pain. Director Vincent Sherman, with whom Davis had once been romantically involved, admitted to the detectives investigating the incident, "If you asked everyone on the set who would have committed such a thing, everyone would raise their hand!" Even Bette Davis herself is quoted as saying, "Only a mother could have loved me at this point in my life."

[edit] Awards

Bette Davis was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress, while Claude Rains was nominated for Best Supporting Actor.

[edit] External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:

Link to book, Bette & Joan: The Divine Feud: [1]

(Source: Wikipedia)
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