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Jezebel (1938)

Approved | | Drama, Romance | 26 March 1938 (USA)
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In 1850s Louisiana, a free-spirited Southern belle loses her fiancé due to her stubborn vanity and pride, and vows to win him back.

Director:

William Wyler

Writers:

Clements Ripley (screen play), Abem Finkel (screen play) | 2 more credits »
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Won 2 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Bette Davis ... Julie Marsden
Henry Fonda ... Preston Dillard
George Brent ... Buck Cantrell
Margaret Lindsay ... Amy Bradford Dillard
Donald Crisp ... Dr. Livingstone
Fay Bainter ... Aunt Belle Massey
Richard Cromwell ... Ted Dillard
Henry O'Neill ... General Theopholus Bogardus
Spring Byington ... Mrs. Kendrick
John Litel ... Jean La Cour
Gordon Oliver ... Dick Allen
Janet Shaw ... Molly Allen
Theresa Harris ... Zette
Margaret Early ... Stephanie Kendrick
Irving Pichel ... Huger
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Storyline

In one of her most renowned roles, Bette Davis portrays Julie Marsden, a spoiled Southern belle who risks losing her suitor with her impetuous behavior. Engaged to successful banker Preston Dillard, Julie pushes him away with her arrogant and contrary ways, leading to a scandalous scene at a major social event and his subsequent departure. When Preston eventually returns and Julie attempts to win him back, she discovers that it may be too late. Written by Jwelch5742

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

You can almost hear the beat of her strange wild heart...as the screen's greatest actress, in her greatest role, thrillingly portrays this dangerous daughter of Dixie...half angel, half siren-all woman! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

26 March 1938 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Jezabel See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,250,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(TCM print)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

William Wyler was torn between a contractual need to finish Henry Fonda's scenes by December and his knowledge that Bette Davis would give her best performance if he shot her role in sequence. As the film fell behind schedule, Wallis and Warner fumed that the director had spent two days on a scene with only Davis and co-star George Brent. See more »

Goofs

Preston Dillard is seen entering a street level door, then going downstairs to the gentlemen's bar. New Orleans has a notoriously high water table, so buildings would not have had basements or lower levels. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Buck Cantrell: [to cabby] Boy, stop here.
[to Dick]
Buck Cantrell: Might as well get us a bottle.
Dick Allen: Julie'll have plenty to drink at the ball.
Buck Cantrell: Yes, pardon Dick - always messed up with cherries n' such. Come on.
[to cabby]
Buck Cantrell: Wait right here.
Driver: Yes sir, Mr. Cantrell sir.
[Buck and Dick enter the St. Louis Hotel]
See more »

Crazy Credits

The credits are blurred across the screen See more »

Alternate Versions

Also available in a computer colorized version. See more »

Connections

Featured in Bette Davis: Größer als das Leben (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

Waltz
(uncredited)
Music by Max Steiner
Played during Olympus Ball scene and often in the score
Danced by Henry Fonda with Bette Davis and other couples
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Gone with the Jezebel
7 January 2005 | by FilmOtakuSee all my reviews

It is 1850's New Orleans, and Julie Marsten (Davis), a head-strong young woman who doesn't find it the least improper to be late for her own engagement party because she feels like riding her horse instead, is getting married to Preston Dillard (Fonda). Unfortunately, Preston isn't at the party because he is hammering out business at his family's bank; when they are married, he and Julie will be moving north, an almost sacrilegious action during this time. Buck Cantrell (George Brent) is Julie's former beau, who remains a family friend and still defends Julie's honor. One day, when Preston doesn't drop everything to attend a dress fitting for Julie that he had originally promised to attend, she defiantly insists that she purchase a red dress, breaking the white dress only tradition for the ball they were attending. Despite the protestations of everyone she knows, including Preston, she wears the dress to the ball, causing her to be ostracized and the official break up of her engagement to Preston when he realizes that he cannot deal with her headstrong attitude. He leaves for the north without her, and comes back a year later with a surprise, and sees that Yellow Fever has gripped New Orleans, a peril that threatens everyone.

"Jezebel" is a tale of defiance, love and redemption. Davis plays her role so well that it is hard to determine whether you want to support her or marginalize her as a spoiled brat. I think that even when the film was made, (1938) the lines were still blurred as to how many freedoms and how much free-thinking should be afforded to women. It is easy for me to say that Julie's red dress was much ado about nothing, but then again, this is the millennium, when nothing is overtly shocking anymore. The mere fact that I thought so much about a classic film (which generally has throwaway plots) is a true testament to Davis' performance and the writing, under William Wyler's direction. "Jezebel" is essentially "Gone with the Wind" without the budget or the color, and was made the year before that film was released. Most of the characters are fairly throwaway, but the subject is Julie, and her development is amazing and very believable, despite the melodramatic genre. This is a film that most classic film lovers have seen, I'm sure (I am apparently a late bloomer in regard to this film) but if you are one and you haven't seen it, or are a Bette Davis fan, see this movie. Most of her late 30's to 1950 films are so spectacular just because of her performance (if the rest is good, it's gravy), and this is one of her best known performances. 7/10 --Shelly


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