Popular and beautiful Fanny Trellis is forced into a loveless marriage with an older man, Jewish banker Job Skeffington, in order to save her beloved brother Trippy from an embezzlement charge, and predictable complications result.
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 <email@example.com>
Bette Davis came to the realization that William Wyler was a very special director when he insisted she come view the dailies with him, something she had never done with any other director before. They watched a scene where her character was coming down a staircase, a scene that had really irritated Davis as she couldn't understand why Wyler wanted to film it over 30 times. Watching the rushes however, she saw one of the takes in which he had captured a fleeting, devil-may-care expression that summed her character up perfectly. After that, she happily accepted however many takes Wyler wanted. See more »
Preston Dillard is seen entering a street level door, then going downstairs to the gentlemen's bar. New Orleans has a notoriously high water table, so buildings would not have had basements or lower levels. See more »
A first rate Davis/Wyler collaboration from the Golden Era
This was the film about deep Southern attitudes vs Northern attitudes that came out before "Gone With the Wind" and left Davis out of the running for the role of Scarlet O'Hara. It was the second film she made with director William Wyler and the best of the three. She also won her second Academy Award for the role. Davis' character, Julie, is not all that unlike Scarlet. She is very headstrong and full of bad decisions, but this is what makes the film work so well. Her character is compelling in that you feel like you are watching a train wreck in action. It's horrible but you can't look away. This is the earliest of the films I watched from Davis' Golden Era and she is quite young, very attractive, with an array of beautiful costumes to wear. Plus the cinematography and sets are thick with atmosphere.
"Jezebel" does have the somewhat same patronizing attitude towards blacks that "Gone With the Wind" had, but at least it wasn't as objectionable as it was in "Little Foxes," Davis' next and final collaboration with Wyler. Aside from Davis, who really does give a great performance, Henry Fonda is quite memorable. Yet on top of everything, the ending is so unusual for a film of this period that it just made my jaw drop. Of all the Bette Davis films I've seen from this period of her career I rate this one the highest. It's a classic for sure, and is far more than just a Bette Davis film, certainly well worth experiencing.
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