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.
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It's 1914 in New York City. Adult brother and sister Trippy Trellis and Fanny Trellis, whose parents are now deceased, were once wealthy, but Trippy squandered away the family fortune, about which no one knows except their cousin George Trellis and their many creditors. Fanny and Trippy still put on the façade to the outside world that they have money. The beautiful Fanny can have any man that she wants to marry, but she sets her sights on Job Skeffington, the son of Russian-Jewish immigrants. Job's wealth was self-made in finance. They met as Trippy was once employed by Job in his brokerage house. Fanny and Job, who is now aware of the Trellis' financial straits, ultimately do get married, much to the consternation of Fanny's many suitors, but most specifically to Trippy, who knows the reason why Fanny married him. Job also realizes that Fanny does not love him, but is unaware of the real reason she agreed to marry him. After their marriage, Fanny's suitors are still around with more... Written by
Bette Davis' final Oscar-nominated performance while under contract with Warner Brothers. See more »
When Job takes his young daughter Fannie to the restaurant, her water glass keeps alternating between nearly full to one-third full. See more »
Good evening, Soames!
Good evening, Mr. Conderley.
Afraid I'm a little early, aren't I?
Miss Trellis wasn't expecting anyone till 8 o'clock.
Well, I thought I'd come a little ahead of time; have a little chat with Miss Fanny.
Sorry, sir; she's still dressing.
All right, I'll wait.
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"Mr. Skeffington" is one of Bette Davis' best performances, and the best of the four teaming with Claude Rains ("Now Voyager" does not have as many sequences with both of them sharing scenes as "Skeffington"). It is the story of a silly, vain woman who marries a man for his money, and to protect her brother. She fails to protect her brother, but she does find that the man she married is a better man than she deserves.
It is also an over-the-years tale, beginning about 1914, and involving World War I, prohibition, the rise of Nazism and anti-Semitism, and ending in World War II. Job Skeffington is a successful stock dealer and banker on Wall Street, and he is a rarity: he's Jewish. Somehow he hires Fanny Trellis's brother Trippy, who returns the favor by embezzling some funds. As Fanny and Trippy are socialites they are used to their friends covering up for their errors. But Job can't simply allow this, because the money doesn't belong to him but to his customers. When he approaches Fanny (gently - he just wants Trippy to return the money) Fanny pulls out her stops to entice him. It works and they marry. Job puts the money back himself. But Trippy is an anti-Semite, and is furious that Fanny sold herself to that Jew. He leaves in high anger. Later Fanny hopes that he will return after he gets it out of his system, but Trippy is killed in the war. Although it is not Job's fault, Fanny does not quite forgive him for that.
She becomes more and more outspokenly unfaithful, much to Job's chagrin and pain. Eventually it leads to a divorce. They have a young daughter who lives mostly with Job, and only joins Fanny later. But that is after a shock hits Fanny's self-image...and sets the stage for a final reconciliation with Job.
All the performances in the film, Davis, Rains, Richard Waring, Walter Abel, Jerome Cowan, are excellent. But one of my favorites is the unexpected comic turn of George Coulouris as the popular psychologist, Dr. Byles. Coulouris usually was a humorless schemer in movies and television, but could rise to the occasion in comedy (witness his progressively increasing irritation as Walter Parkes Thatcher in "Citizen Kane"). Here he is ready to leave on a long planned, much needed vacation, when Fanny barges in to unload her misery and woe without so much as a scheduled appointment. By only showing the clock in the background to show the length she takes away from the boiling Dr. Byles, one is ready for the inevitable conclusion - when the good Doctor tells her off. And he is the first person to do so in the movie.
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