87 user 39 critic

Jezebel (1938)

Approved | | Drama, Romance | 26 March 1938 (USA)
1:58 | Trailer

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In 1850s Louisiana, a free-spirited Southern belle loses her fiancé due to her stubborn vanity and pride, and vows to win him back.



(screen play), (screen play) | 2 more credits »
Won 2 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Aunt Belle Massey
Ted Dillard
General Theopholus Bogardus
Mrs. Kendrick
Jean La Cour
Dick Allen
Molly Allen
Theresa Harris ...
Margaret Early ...
Stephanie Kendrick


Set in antebellum New Orleans during the early 1850's, this film follows Julie Marsden through her quest for social redemption on her own terms. Julie is a beautiful and free spirited, rapacious Southern belle who is sure of herself and controlling of her fiancé Preston Dillard, a successful young banker. Julie's sensitive but domineering personality--she does not want so much to hurt as to assert her independence--forces a wedge between Preston and herself. To win him back, she plays North against South amid a deadly epidemic of yellow fever which claims a surprising victim. Written by Adam Brodsky <adam_brodsky@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A Fearless Feminine Creature with a heart full of love ! See more »


Drama | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »





Release Date:

26 March 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Jezabel  »

Box Office


$1,250,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(TCM print)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


On hearing that he was about to make a film with William Wyler, Humphrey Bogart (who had just made Dead End (1937) with the director and had not enjoyed Wyler's insistence on multiple takes) told Henry Fonda "Jesus, don't touch it. Don't go in there". See more »


At the dressmaker's shop Julie holds up the red dress in front of her to see how it looks. It has sleeves. She takes it home with her and shows it to Preston. The next day is the ball and when she appears in it,the dress is now sleeveless. See more »


Julie: I'm askin' for the chance to prove I can be brave and strong and unselfish. Help me, Amy. Help me make myself clean again as you are clean. Let me prove myself worthy of the love I bear him.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The credits are blurred across the screen See more »


Featured in Breakdowns of 1938 (1938) See more »


Music by Max Steiner
Played during Olympus Ball scene and often in the score
Danced by Henry Fonda with Bette Davis and other couples
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Bette Davis-Legend
11 February 2010 | by (Texas) – See all my reviews

Bette Davis is a legend. I'd always heard that growing up, but felt some disconnect from it . When I became aware of her it was late in her career after she had developed into a boozy, smoke belching, caricature of her on screen persona's. So, if the "Bette Davis/Legend" concept rings a little hollow with you as it did me, watch this film. I just saw "Jezebel" for the first time on DVD. Wow! I haven't seen a lot of movies from the 1930's but I'm pretty sure that no one else was doing then what Bette Davis was doing. It is an acting style, and skill level, that isn't seen often.

She is brilliant throughout but one scene in particular made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. It happens in the scene where Henry Fonda escorts Jezebel home after the ball and breaks off their engagement. When he tells her, "goodbye" and not "goodnight", a look of puzzlement and humiliation comes over her face. She starts to turn away to leave, but decides instead to extend her hand in Southern feminine cordiality to wish him well. As she does this something inside her wells up. Her expression changes, and as they say, if looks could kill... With the speed of a cobra, and unable to restrain herself, she slaps him in the face. Unlike a cobra however, which recoils after it strikes, she lurches slightly closer and you think she might just rip his throat out. William Wyler lets the camera linger on her and it's a powerful, and slightly disturbing, moment. I don't think anyone else could have pulled it off like Davis did.

The film is great although the depictions of slavery as a genteel Southern quirk are more than a little cringe worthy. To see this movie though is to understand how Bette Davis became a legend. And to see this movie is to see one of the most powerful screen performances ever. Who knew... After all 1938 was a long time ago and I've been busy with other stuff.

17 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Does anyone have a problem with the ending? pwbri
talk about blaming the woman... shoequeen2713
Dont yell at me but I wish they would colorize caymancic
Who did Preston really love? roseytrebles
Who's "Jezebel"? Chloe1939
How does Julie betray Buck? bethanne558
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