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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The rumors that Henry Fonda and William Wyler didn't get on were not true. While Fonda found Wyler's diligent style too slow and sedate, he was nevertheless impressed with the results Wyler was getting from his cast and crew. Fonda's main reason for agitation was because he wanted to be in New York for the imminent birth of his daughter, Jane Fonda. 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 »
The American South has always had an aura of sadness around it. I don't know why exactly. This film tends to reinforce that perception. Characters start off with high hopes for the future, only to succumb to some unfortunate fate, as a direct result of their Southern roots.
In pre-Civil War New Orleans, Julie Marsden (Bette Davis) is a wealthy young woman, engaged to respected banker Preston Dillard (Henry Fonda). But Julie is strong-willed, independent, and impetuous, traits considered unwomanly by that era's Southern aristocracy. Against Preston's wishes, Julie wears a red dress, instead of the customary white, to a gala ball. This event sets up the rest of the story.
While the support cast in "Jezebel" is fine, especially Fay Bainter, the film would not be the same without Bette Davis. I just can't see anyone else in the role of Julie. Davis' performance and the film's setting are what make this film so memorable. The costumes, the production design, the cinematography, and the music combine to convey a genuine sense of the antebellum South, with its stately manners that conceal narrow-mindedness and barbaric "chivalry".
Normally, I don't care for films whose subject matter is long ago history. But "Jezebel" is an exception, because it is so well made. I guess it is the tone of the film that really got my attention. The stately beauty of that time and place masks an underlying sadness, as a prelude to tragedy. Some might call it melodrama. But to me, that's just good drama.
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