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.
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
Bette Davis was originally not happy at learning that William Wyler was to direct the film as she had heard of his reputation for insisting on multiple takes. Wyler's aptitude soon won her over however, both personally and professionally. See more »
Early in the film, Preston storms up to Julie's bedroom and knocks hard on her door several times with his cane. The head of the cane seemingly leaves numerous dents in the wood. When Julie finally opens the door (inward into the bedroom), the dents have disappeared. See more »
Amy, of course, it's your right to go; you're his wife. But are you fit to go? Loving him isn't enough. If you gave him all your strength, would it be enough?
Amy Bradford Dillard:
I'll make him live, or die with him.
Amy... Amy, do you know the Creole word for fever powder? For food and water? How to talk to a sullen, overworked black boy and make him fear you and help you? Pres's life and yours will hang on things just like that, and you'll both surely die.
Amy Bradford Dillard:
Then it will have to be that way.
It's not a question of ...
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The credits are blurred across the screen See more »
Also available in a computer colorized version. See more »
The American South has always had an aura of sadness around it. I don't know why exactly. This film tends to reinforce that perception. Characters start off with high hopes for the future, only to succumb to some unfortunate fate, as a direct result of their Southern roots.
In pre-Civil War New Orleans, Julie Marsden (Bette Davis) is a wealthy young woman, engaged to respected banker Preston Dillard (Henry Fonda). But Julie is strong-willed, independent, and impetuous, traits considered unwomanly by that era's Southern aristocracy. Against Preston's wishes, Julie wears a red dress, instead of the customary white, to a gala ball. This event sets up the rest of the story.
While the support cast in "Jezebel" is fine, especially Fay Bainter, the film would not be the same without Bette Davis. I just can't see anyone else in the role of Julie. Davis' performance and the film's setting are what make this film so memorable. The costumes, the production design, the cinematography, and the music combine to convey a genuine sense of the antebellum South, with its stately manners that conceal narrow-mindedness and barbaric "chivalry".
Normally, I don't care for films whose subject matter is long ago history. But "Jezebel" is an exception, because it is so well made. I guess it is the tone of the film that really got my attention. The stately beauty of that time and place masks an underlying sadness, as a prelude to tragedy. Some might call it melodrama. But to me, that's just good drama.
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