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 ... See full summary »
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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
Reportedly it took forty minutes to dress Bette Davis each day in her historically accurate costumes with several layers of under garments and corsets to help her maintain the correct posture and movement See more »
The Duchess of Praslin is seen licking envelopes in which she has placed letters to her husband, the Duc de Praslin. This film is set in the 1840s; gummed envelopes would not be invented for another 100 years. Correspondence in the 1840s would not be placed in a #10 business envelope anyway as seen in the film. The letters would be be placed in another sheet of paper and then sealed over with a wax seal or simply folded over and sealed with a wax seal, sometimes a ribbon set in the wax as well. See more »
Duc de Praslin:
May I have Pierre come for your luggage?
Duchesse de Praslin:
Theo, last night I poured my heart out to you in a letter. I crept to your doorway which I am foridden to enter and stooped in humility and pushed it under the seal!
Duc de Praslin:
I received it, Frances.
Duchesse de Praslin:
But look! You didn't even open it! Oh Theo, do you suppose this empty pretense is what I hoped for?Lastnight I begged for you to come to me! I hoped we might start this journey today united as we once were! Theo, Theo! Have you completely forgotten the life we once ...
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Based upon the popular 1937 novel written by Henriette Duluzy Desporte's grandneice, one Rachel Field, this movie was a prime vehicle for Bette Davis. This was considered Warners big "prestige" picture for 194O, and it shows: no expense in the production costs were spared, it's an exceptionally finely crafted motion picture. Based upon factual incidents, the story tells of how the notorious 1847 murder of the Dutchess (played with venomous relish by the tall & stately Barbara O'Neil) made Henriette the most notoriously suspicious and despised woman in Europe for a time. Originally, O'Neil's interpretation of the horrendously neurotic Dutchess was played looking a disheveled, unkempt mess physically. The producers thought her appearance would be a bit too uncooth for viewers to endure, but that decision robbed O'Neil of a far more effective characterization. As Henriette, Davis is much more subdued than normal, and her performance is genuinely affecting: another victorious portrait added to her quickly growing gallery of unforgettable heroines and vixens. Charles Boyer is fine as the Duc; he and Davis have a most interesting, classy chemistry between them. The children include Richard Nichols (as the adorable Raynald), Virginia Weidler and June Lockhart. Anatole Litvak's direction keeps this 14O minute saga flowing: the result is a handsome period piece which is done in old Hollywood's best style.
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