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Olivia de Havilland
When lovely and virtuous governess Henriette Deluzy comes to educate the children of the debonair Duc de Praslin, a royal subject to King Louis-Philippe and the husband of the volatile and obsessive Duchesse de Praslin, she instantly incurs the wrath of her mistress, who is insanely jealous of anyone who comes near her estranged husband. Though she saves the duchess's little son from a near-death illness and warms herself to all the children, she is nevertheless dismissed by the vengeful duchess. Meanwhile, the attraction between the duke and Henriette continues to grow, eventually leading to tragedy. Written by
Warner Bros. erected 67 sets for this movie, a record at the time. See more »
As he lays sick, the governess has Raynald count the segments of tangerine. She starts out counting the first three with him. She interrupts her own count to speak with the Duke, but Raynald continues on. When the governess resumes the count with Raynald, the actual tangerine piece is segment number 7. She mistakenly calls it number 10 and continues with the count from there. See more »
Director Anatole Litvak does an exceedingly good job with this romantic period piece, as do each of the actors involved. Bette Davis plays Henriette Deluzy-Desportes, a governess in 19th Century France, who lands a position working for Theo, Duc De Praslin (Charles Boyer) and his family. The childern adore the new, spirited governess, but Boyer's psycho bitch wife, the Duchesse (Barbara O'Neil), is resentful of Henriette's intrusion into the family. The new addition to the family works her magic on everyone but the Duchesse. Theo and Henriette, predictably, begin to fall in love, which further complicates things, sending the crazy wife into even more rages of insanity. All of this builds momentum until a climactic crime of passion takes a life.
Davis is a kick to watch as she struts her stuff with an excellent French accent. Boyer is awesome in this dark, brooding, but romantic role. And O'Neil deservedly got an Oscar-nomination for her role, full of anger and energy. But the real stand-out, interestingly enough, is Richard Nicols as Boyer's so-adorable-you-just-wanna-squeeze-him son Reynald.
Overall, this dark, dreary film is a highly-satisfying experience, slightly off-put by the preachy, silly final scene in the classroom.
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