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.
A piano teacher believes that her fiancé was killed on the battlefield. When he miraculously returns, they decide to marry, but are threatened by a wealthy, egotistical composer the piano teacher started dating on the rebound after she became convinced her love had died.
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
Although all of the characters (other than Henry Martyn Field) are meant to be French, only the Duc has a French accent. Bette Davis speaks with an English lilt, as her character Henriette had come from England after being a governess to a British family. See more »
Most of the story takes place in France, yet all writing is in American English; the only French is spoken in the USA, when the new teacher tries to teach her boisterous class. See more »
Duc de Praslin:
Oh, please don't go. Don't even move.
Duc de Praslin:
I might say don't move because, as you sit there, the firelight is so beautiful on your hair. I might say don't move because this is All Souls' Day, and you mustn't disturb the spirits. And again, I might say don't move because this is a moment so full of understanding that I can't bear to see it come to an end.
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This excellent period drama is based on a popular novel of 1939 by Rachel Field. It told a version of the story of the murder, in Paris in 1847, of Fanny Sebastiani Choiseul-Praslin, Duchesse and wife of Theobald, Duc de Choiseul-Praslin. Fanny was the daughter of Marachal Horace Sebastiani, one of the leading political and social figures in the July Monarchy or Orleans Monarchy of France, under King Louis Phillippe (1830 - 1848). This was a middle-class supported monarchy, and was far more liberal than it's predecessor monarchy under King Louis's cousins the Bourbons. But by 1847 it had grown corrupt, and it was suffering a series a serious scandals. The murder of Duchesse Fanny by her husband was the last real blow. Supposedly the marriage had collapsed due to the growing relationship between Theobald and the children's governess, Mlle. Helene Deluzy-Desportes. The actual relationship between the governess and the Duc remains questioned, although most believe she was his lover. Rachel Field, a descendant of Fanny and her later husband, Rev. Martyn Field, presented the governess as the victim of circumstances (working in a household that was falling apart). Finally, whatever the cause, Theobald beat Fanny to death, and tried to make it look like a burglar did it. Instead the Surete was not fooled, and Theobald was arrested. But while under arrest he took poison, and he died denying his guilt and denying the involvement of the governess. Fanny came to America, where she taught school and married into the Field family (her brother-in-law Cyrus was a financier who laid the Atlantic Cable, and her brother-in-law Stephen was an Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court). As for the French, they blamed the government for allowing the Duc to escape justice, and within a year the July Monarchy was overthrown. Marachel Sebastiani (Montague Love in the film) died prematurely in 1851 - the last victim of the crime.
The film, except for the pro-Deluzy-Desportes slant, is excellent with a fine, restrained performance by Davis, an intense one by Boyer (who finally explodes in one scene where he shows his thorough hatred for his wife), and a marvelous performance by Barbara O'Neill as Fanny. I would thoroughly recommend this one for movie fans - a fine example of the best of Warner's historical films.
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