Whose face ravaged, grotesque is in the mirror? Surely it?s not that of Fanny Skeffington, the prettiest woman in New York. Fanny always used her beauty to manipulate her way through life. She?s encouraged dozens of suitor... more »s, even after her marriage. But now diphtheria has robbed her of her only attribute. And without her looks, she?s lost. Bette Davis earned her eighth Best Actress Oscar nomination portraying Fanny DVD Features:Audio Commentary:Featurette:New Featurette; Mr. Skeffington: The Big PictureTheatrical Trailer:« less
"A pre World War I society beauty, self absorbed and shallow Fanny Trellis (Bette Davis), enjoys being besieged by besotted suitors. She simply cannot make up her mind whom to marry. She finally ends up choosing one of the unlikeliest of men, one who was not even aa avowed suitor, the enormously wealthy Job Skeffington (Claude Rains). Her reasons for marrying the enormously wealthy and jewish Mr. Skeffington are linked to something disgraceful her ne'er do well brother did. Mr. Skeffington provides Fanny with a good life and simply adores her, tolerating her flirtations with other men as simply something Fanny's vanity requires. They have a child, a daughter, also named Fanny, whom Mr. Skeffington adores. Fanny, however, loves only herself. When Fanny's brother, who had objected to her marriage and had run off to fight in World War I, is killed in action, Fanny blames her marriage to Mr. Skeffington as the catalyst for his death. From that point on, the marriage takes a nosedive.Fanny proceeds to take her flirtations beyond the bounds of propriety, and Mr. Skeffington also looks for greener pastures elsewhere, as his is a loveless home. They end up having an open marriage that ultimately ends up in divorce. Mr. Skeffington takes custody of their daughter, when Fanny voluntarily seeks to relinquish custody, as she does not want the responsibility. Fanny proceeds to spend her life charming new suitors and having love affairs. She tries to turn back the hands of time, lavishing much time and effort in remaining youthful in her appearance. Meanwhile, Mr. Skeffington and their daughter spend years living abroad in Europe, until he sends their now grown daughter to live with Fanny just before the outbreak of World War II due to the growing Nazi menace, while he stays behind in Berlin. Unfortunately, he does not fare so well as a jew in Nazi Germany. This 1944 film was one of the first to allude to anti-semitism and the Nazi menace.When her daughter returns home, after many years of not seeing her mother, as Fanny was always too busy, Fanny is startled by the fact that her daughter is now a young woman, and realizes that she serves just to make Fanny seem older than she appears. The daughter is an unwelcome reminder that her youth has passed her by. When Fanny is struck down with diptheria and her good looks are ravaged by her illness, she has a hard time coping with the loss of her youthful appearance and comes to a crossroads in her life. What she discovers is hard for her to bear, but she ends up being able to love someone other than herself. Watch the movie to find out who.This is a superb film with superlative performances by the entire cast. Bette Davis is divine as the silly, self absorbed Fanny. Bette Davis succeeds in making the viewer believe her to be a grand beauty. Speaking in a voice, dripping with artiface, that she purposely pitches high in order to sound more youthful, her voice changes as she ages. Her costumes are first rate, as is her performance of this silly, vapid character. Claude Rains is wonderful, giving a powerful, though understated, performance as the patient and loving Mr. Skeffington. The supporting cast is likewise excellent. The lavish sets are magnificent and give the viewer the feeling of tremendous wealth and power. They are richly redolent of another era. Magnificently cast, the film deservedly won Bette Davis an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.This is a must see film for all Bette Davis fans. It is also one that those who love vintage films will enjoy!"
DAVIS at her greatest!
Alan Herskowitz (big.al@internetmci | New York | 02/17/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Bette Davis plays a beautiful New York socialite with "every man in New York at her feet". Many, many men are interested in marrying her. And what does she do? She marries a rich, Jewish stockbroker, Job Skeffington (Claude Rains) for his money. It is only at the end of the film (after thirty years of countless beaus) that she realizes that Mr. Skeffington was the only man that really and truly ever loved her.There is a much humor in the film including a wonderful running joke about one of Fanny's best friends whom we never meet because Fanny always cancels lunch dates with her. The script was brilliantly written by the Epstein brothers who co-wrote an earlier Davis hit, MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER as well as one of the greatest films of all time-CASABLANCA. The film begins in the year 1914 just before the beginning of World War I and ends during the midst of World War II. We see Claude Rains after returning from a German concentration camp and this was one of the first time American audiences were able to get just an inkling of the horrors of the Nazis and their anti-semitic practices. The fade-out scene is one you'll not forget easily. Be sure to have that box of tissues handy. You WILL enjoy this film!"
Trippy Trellis and the rest of them
Kevin Killian | San Francisco, CA United States | 03/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Vincent Sherman is generally underrated and people seem to prefer William Wyler as a director, but to me Sherman gives you the real 100 proof Bette Davis (as well as many other actresses he worked with during a very up and down career). Wyler seems so labored next to Sherman's X-Ray intensity, like he's shooting the film lit only by occasional flashes of lightning. MR SKEFFINGTON, with its teasing title, is one of his very best pictures.
Bette Davis evidently persuades about half the people watching the movie that she is or was a great beauty. That's a sign of good acting, even if she can't sway the other fifty percent from thinking her a fraud. Fanny is one of Davis' great creations, even if you don't buy into her beauty, for she makes you believe in her self-absorption, and the exquisite narcissism which draws men toward her like moths. And yet Fanny has an Achilles heel of her own--two really, if you count the way her self-worth is totally indexed into her good looks, so it must inevitably suffer with the passing of time. But her real weakness is her crazy love for her brother, the indolent character played by Richard Waring in this film, with the Cockettes-style name of "Trippy Trellis." As many have noted, it's hard to take a guy seriously in the movie if his name is "Trippy Trellis." Waring is good in the part, and I wonder why his US career was so curtailed. Maybe it was the curse of that tremulous name.
As for Claude Rains, he lives up to the title role every bit as splendidly as he filled the shoes of "The Invisible Man." There's a bit of the invisible in his performance, isn't there, in the way he retreats towards the wallpaper when Fanny takes every inch of air in the room. And in fact he completely disappears off the screen while the death camps get a grip on him, only for him to make a fantastic Monte Cristo re-appearance at the end. They don't make actors like that any more, do they? Well, they do, but they don't give them their heads the way Vincent Sherman encourages Rains and Davis at every turn. "More, more, more!" And also, of course, we don't have Franz Waxman working in Hollywood any more. His delirious score for MR SKEFFINGTON makes "Trippy Trellis" seem almost reasonable. Put this film on DVD now!"
A Hollywood Classic!
Alan Herskowitz (big.al@internetmci | 06/01/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Bette always says that making "Mr. Skeffington" was sheer hell. She refers mostly to the second half when she has lost her great beauty to diptheria and resembles an old hag. Whatever the hell, Bette and cast members and the crew created a must-see classic. One can watch this movie repeatedly and appreciate all the great care that went into the costumes, from the turn of the century up to the early forties. The beautiful Franz Waxman score, the wonderful photography, sets, and performances by all makes this a tear-jerker supreme, especially in the final sequence. Davis proved once more than she could play any role--which is why her movies are watched more than any other female star of Hollywood's golden era--and this includes Hepburn, Crawford, and God knows, Jane Wyman and Rosalind Russell."
Supreme Emotional Drama with Bette Davis and Claude Rains
Simon Davis | 07/29/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
""A woman is only beautiful when she is loved", so says Job Skeffington to his capricious wife Fanny during this emotionally taut drama that chronicles the life of New York beauty Fanny Trellis Skeffington (Bette Davis). Indeed beauty of the face and that of the soul are the two conflicting themes in this powerful drama and in the lesson in what should be really valued in life. Beautifully and emotionally put together this story of one vain woman's pointless life and continual quest for shallow adulation over real emotional commitment makes riverting viewing in any generation."Mr. Skeffington", based on the acclaimed novel by "Elizabeth" covers a period of over 40 years and offered a supreme starring role for the Queen of Warner Brothers, Bette Davis then at her peak of popularity and Box Office power. The story sees Fanny Skeffington's progression through many decades from being a young lady courted by many eager suitors to an old emotionally alone victim of her own caprices in life. What occurs along the way makes powerful viewing as we see Fanny first try and bail out of financial trouble her worthless brother Trippy (Richard Waring in a small but highly effective performance) by marrying for money his boss Jewish financier Job Skeffington (Claude Rains in one of his finest performances.) Time passes and we see the continual quest for youth and adulation that Fanny seeks all the while ignoring and alienating her adoring husband. Their child is born and still Fanny ignores her family commitments and steadily drifts away from Job who out of sheer loneliness seeks affection with a succession of secretaries. No longer content to dream that his marriage is anything more than a farce Job and Fanny divorce and Job along with baby Fanny sets off for a new life in Europe just as the warning clouds of the rise of the Nazi's begins to become evident. Fanny's shallow life continues but a severe case of diphtheria robs her of her only asset, her good looks and suddenly Fanny must come to the sad realisation that she is growing old and no longer the attractive young woman who men flocked to. Even when her now grown daughter returns years later an emotional block still sepearates the two and young Fanny eventually spurns her and ends up marrying one of Fanny's younger suitors further emphasising the passing of time. Just as all seems lost however Job, now a broken man, blinded and a victim of Nazi oppression suddenly appears and for the first time Fanny, with her ruined looks and lonely prospects, sees the real value in loving people for who they are not what they look like. She happily announces that "Mr. Skeffington is coming home!" and helps the blinded Job up to his room.Vintage melodrama? Perhaps but produced in superb style helped immensely by the playing of the two powerful leads. Bette Davis has a difficult part here as her character of Fanny is a vain shallow woman and not at all likeable. With her girlish manners and high pitched voice she gets across beautifully the character of this uncaring woman who never wants to grow older. Her work after the attack of diptheria is especially good and even though her makeup for the disfigured scenes caused her no end of trouble during Mr. Skeffington's filming she rises superbly to the possibilities of a woman for the first time learning how to appreciate others. Claude Rains as Job has one of his best roles ever and clearly relishes working with Davis. Being one of the few actors she in later life mentioned as admiring Rains brings a beautiful balance of affection, loathing, frustration and desperation to his performing. His confrontation scene with Fanny when he mentions that if he had even one shred of affection from her in their marriage he would never have left is one of the emotional climax's of the story. The talented Walter Abel exceles as Fanny's cousin George who is the witness to all of Fanny's superficial behaviour over the years and Jerome Cowan is excellent as the most presistent of Fanny's suitors who in another sad and emotionally wrenching scene returns as an old broke man seeking money from Fanny under the guise of still supposedly being infatuated with her. Being one of Warner Brothers major productions of 1944 no expense was spared on this Bette Davis vechicle which had an agonizingly long shooting schedule filled with constant battles between Davis and director Vincent Sherman. It is a lavish film to behold from the amazingly extravagent sets, costumes changing over a forty year time span and the powerful Franz Waxman musical score.First and foremost this is a Bette Davis film all the way and in the 1938 to 1946 period when she had many memorable parts it is still a stand out. However I dont think that any part taxed her as much as the part of Fanny Skeffington built as it was on one woman's devotion to herself and in living a life built on artiface. Quite deservedly she was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actress and in "Mr. Skeffington", she has never been better in a different type of role than she normally tackled. To see this film is to view film making as it used to be when the resources of a whole studio were put behind a lead performer like Davis. For lovers of fine acting settle back and enjoy the tear jerking emotional drama of "Mr. Skeffington" soon. It is a viewing experience to cherish always."