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
John Huston and Edmund Goulding tried their hands earlier at adapting the story to the screen, but their efforts were discarded. See more »
The image of the battleship turning over in the newsreel scene is that of the Viribus Unitus, which sunk during the closing days of World War One, rather than before America's entry into the war, as discussed in the newsreel 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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Bette Davis and Richard Waring are the Trellis siblings, an old name and dwindling money. They also have the snobbery that comes from having a name that goes back to the 17th century in terms of residence on the North American continent. Both their lives get forever intertwined with that of Claude Rains, Mr. Skeffington.
Fanny Trellis Skeffington is one of Bette Davis's best screen performances. She's a shallow woman who is a great beauty and enjoys all the flattery that a stream of men give her. Waring to keep up with his lifestyle goes to work for investment banker Skeffington and winds up embezzling a considerable sum of money.
Rains is ready to prosecute, but Davis intercedes and marries Rains who is as entranced as everyone else is with her beauty. They have one rocky marriage that produces a daughter, Majorie Riordan, but little else in the way of happiness for either.
If Mr. Skeffington has a fault it's that Rains is sometimes just to good to be true. For what he put up with, if he were a Christian, he'd be a candidate for sainthood.
Another thing I like about Mr. Skeffington is that it does tackle the issue of anti-Semitism head-on. Waring is a Jew hater as are many of Davis's upper crust admirers. Rains keeps a cheerful look on his face, but because he's that brilliant an actor, you can see the pain registering.
Mr. Skeffington was nominated for two Academy Awards. Bette Davis got one of her nominations for Best Actress, but lost to Ingrid Bergman for Gaslight. And Rains was nominated for Best Supporting Actor, but he lost to Barry Fitzgerald in Going My Way.
Warner Brothers gave Davis a great group of supporting players and among the ones I like are Dorothy Peterson as her loyal maid, George Coulouris as a psychiatrist who gave her some words of wisdom like a Dutch Uncle, and Walter Abel as her wise cousin who is the catalyst for some positive change in her in the end.
Mr. Skeffington is Bette Davis at her best and always finds a place in the top 10 of her screen roles.
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