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  • This truly lavish melodrama really knocked me out. I simply did not find any significant weaknesses to this film, at least none of which others have alluded. Films of this type can easily become maudlin, insignificant, and flat. However, "Mr. Skeffington" is the result of a set of elements that are incorporated vibrantly. The film simply has a grand sweep to it, lifting it high above many others of this genre.

    The staging and sets (in conjunction with Ory-Kelly's costumes) are as good as any movie that I've seen, along the lines of "Gone With the Wind", "Citizen Kane", "Gigi", or "Long Day's Journey into Night". The use of silence and spaciousness, along with noise and density, is brilliantly carried out and is extremely well-balanced by the characters' non-verbal responses to each other. It's hard to describe without providing details of given scenes - I would suggest that you watch it with this perspective and see what you think.

    Speaking of scenes, length is the common enemy of films of this type, but not here - each scene plays out like a shining entity that still provides momentum and underpinning for the entire story. I counted at least 12 very memorable scenes. Humor is added strategically to most scenes to balance the starkness of the story and is nicely understated to avoid a sense of camp. Director Vincent Sherman has polished each scene like a diamond, and the effect is very powerful. The scenes really do stand on their own almost like a set of montages.

    Bette Davis' performance is decidedly affected as she plays Fanny as a young girl, but the pure talent and visual power of this actress makes one believe that she is truly the beauty that she is supposed to be. Notice how her movements and responsiveness reinforce the sense of someone almost 15 years younger than herself. While others have complained about the makeup of the older Fanny in portraying her change in age, I found that the makeup perfectly embodied the older Fanny because Davis plays the character so consistently to her advanced age. I would place this performance in Bette Davis' top tier, along with "Now, Voyager", "The Little Foxes", and "All About Eve".

    Claude Rains plays the title character with restraint, integrity, and great love for Fanny, but the sense of pathos that he communicates really helps to give the movie a lot of power. The other acting performances are uniformly excellent, particularly Walter Abel as Cousin George. Without the strength of Abel's characterization, this would have been a far weaker movie.

    Franz Waxman's score has been criticized by some as being extravagant and overly dramatic to the point of being startling. I really enjoyed it - Waxman incorporates a lush late romantic style that has a stronger "classical-music" feel than other scores for movies of this type, which tend to emphasize strings as accompaniment. The result is a feeling of complexity which shades the story along with the other elements.

    This is easily Vincent Sherman's best work, one of Ernest Haller's best, and one of the best melodramas that I have seen. 10 out of 10.
  • After "Now Voyager" this is my favorite film of Davis. If you see the short subject on this film, the director said Davis loved a challenge and she took on the role of the "too pretty" Fanny Trellis because she felt she could "pull it off"... and in my humble opinion, she did that very well indeed. Some say she had a "pretentious" and "irritating" character, it is indeed the character of Fanny Trellis who is both pretentious and irritating. That is built into the character herself. I had a relative who behaved just as she did in this film. Davis especially reminded me of this aunt of mine when she visits Mr. Skeffington in his office when war is declared. She was artificially fragile, overly made-up, and oh too charming. Davis was brilliant in her portrayal of Fanny as the spoiled, fussy, prissy young woman who the "men" really go after.... but unlike today where most men are after physical attributes, it is Fanny's charm and her apparent wealth they are also attracted to. In reality, her character has none of these things.... it is an illusion, just as her life is an illusion. I think she did a marvelous job in a demanding and difficult role. The film also has one of the most remarkable music scores on film. Every scene is perfectly synchronized by Franz Waxman's magnificent score.
  • bkoganbing27 November 2007
    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.
  • Bette Davis was an actress. She did not play herself over and over but reinvented herself in each film she made. Mr Skeffington is curiously names after Claude Rains character Mr Skeffington, like Dorothy Arzner's Christopher Strong, a film about Cynthia Darrington ( Katherine Hepburn). Davis plays a Fanny, a woman of less than average intelligence, one afraid of being a woman, mostly because of the attention paid to her by ridiculous suitors, and a life spent in sucking up to them and learning how to get what she wants because of their stupidity. Finally she is truly loved by Mr Skellington (Claude Rains). Nevertheless she still feels embarassed having a baby so she goes back east to hid her growing body. Whatever made her into the fragile and distant creature she truly is underneath her silly flirtations and airs, she realizes in the end the shallowness of her fan club and the true love of the man who loves her no matter what. She conveys the bunglings of a woman caught up in her appearance and the futility of living as an image brilliantly. Well done Bette! You still outshine all actresses living!
  • I think this is one of Bette Davis' best roles ever. I have always been the "beautiful one' in my family also, getting all the attention, neglecting (but still loving my child). This movie is timeless, especially today in our youth worshiping society. It should be required watching for all young teenage girls. The moral is: beauty fades but true love lasts forever. A clich√©? Sure, but so what! I cry each time I see this film. It hits me close to home, I always secretly wondered if my daughter would be as beautiful if not more beautiful than me. Mr. Skeffington (played by Claude Rains) is too good to be true, no man would tolerate such rejection from his wife. How did she get pregnant? Also, all the men she constantly entertained in their home! Thats something that didn't make sense to me but the good outweighs the bad in this movie. I know Franny Skeffington was shallow, but what about all those around her? Once her youth & beauty had faded, not only did her so-called admirers & friends disappear but they were so cold & callous about it. This movie woke me up like a slap in the face. I make it a point to try not to look in the mirror more than 3 times a day. :) But I used to sleep with a mirror next to my bed just like Franny did. All women thrive on compliments, etc. But I pity Franny not for losing her beauty, but for losing her innocence. How ironic it was for her to get a children's disease in order to grow up. Having to be told by a therapist that she was old & her only hope was to go back to her husband. The ending was truly inspired! Another movie that has a similar message about beauty & love is "The Enchanted Cottage" (1945) All in all this is a realistic portrayal of a selfish, shallow person and it takes one to know one.............
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is a great movie. Bette Davis and Claude Rains are magnificent together, just as they were in "Now, Voyager" two years before. Bette Davis stars as Fanny Skeffington, whose self-absorption leads to the destruction of her devoted husband, Job (Claude Rains). Fanny continues to entertain her beaux, despite her marriage to Job. After a few years, Job decides to leave, knowing that Fanny only married him for his money. This is a true act of love on his part. So Fanny floats through life without a care in the world, and her admirers left and right.

    After many years, Fanny contracts diphtheria and is on the brink of death. She recovers, but begins to look not only her age, but many years older. In a desperate attempt to reassure herself of her youth and beauty, Fanny invites all of her old boyfriends to a party at her house. They all, as she puts it, "recoil" from her, because she is no longer beautiful. Fanny feels abandoned and lonely.

    But then, fate lends its hand. Fanny's cousin, George, tells her that Job has returned. He has been in a concentration camp, and is not in good shape. He wants to see Fanny. Fanny however, doesn't want Job to see what's become of her. But with much pleading from George, she agrees to see him. When she reaches Job, she discovers that he is blind. So no matter how she looks, Job will always love her, and remember her for the beauty she had. But Fanny realizes that looks are not important, because of what Job said many years before: "A woman is beautiful only when she is loved".

    "Mr. Skeffington" is a classic. It can be a little long at some parts, but it's worthwhile to see. It also features excellent performances by Walter Abel, George Coulouris, and Marjorie Riordan. I gave this movie a 9/10.
  • "Mr. Skeffington" is one of the great Hollywood melodramas. Bette Davis has the showy role in this epic story of a troubled relationship, but it's Claude Rains as her Jewish husband who jerks the tears. Bette is all mannerisms and makeup - and there's nothing wrong with that! - but Rains gives a subtle, weighty performance that anchors the movie.

    This is Warner Brothers at its most elegant. The Franz Waxman score is superb and the way he punctuates Bette's eye-blinking is hilarious.

    The magnificent singer/actress Dolores Gray made her first film appearance in this film as a 1920s speakeasy chanteuse. Bette acknowledges what a beautiful voice she has in a moment that hasn't really anything to do with the scene, but the divine Dolores deserves the comment. In case you don't know who she is, check out her own film career 10 years later in her MGM films such as "It's Always Fair Weather."

    Bette's aging makeup presages her work in "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?"

    You won't want to miss "Mr. Skeffington." Bette's flamboyance and Rains' gravitas make this film totally enjoyable.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I have discovered as I have gotten older and have watched hundreds of classic film that for those of us who mock the people who watch soap operas or read romance novels, we have the classic melodrama to fall back on. More meaty but nevertheless still over the top, melodramas feed a craving for escapism without having to resort to bodice-ripper books or films or worse, the Lifetime Movie Network. "Mr. Skeffington", directed by Vincent Sherman and starring the incomparable Bette Davis and the always-charming Claude Rains, is one of those good, solid melodramas.

    With a setting that begins during the inception of World War I and ends after World War II, "Mr. Skeffington" introduces us first to Fanny Trellis (Davis), the most sought-after debutante in New York who has so many suitors that she routinely has at least four men wooing her and proposing at a time. On the night of a big party she and her brother Trippy are hosting, a man named Job Skeffington (Rains) comes to the door asking to speak with Trippy. Trippy is an employee at Skeffington's bank, and after he refuses to see him, Fanny and her cousin George (Abel) arrange to talk to him. It turns out that Trippy has been swindling Skeffington, who is planning on talking to the District Attorney regarding the matter. George and Fanny convince him to wait, and Fanny, ever confident, avers that she will be receiving flowers from him the very next day. When no flowers arrive, curious, she goes to visit Skeffington at the office, and over the next several months a romance develops. When they suddenly marry, she breaks the hearts of her suitors as well as Trippy, who sees Skeffington as a constant reminder of what a mess he has made of his life, so he enlists in the army and goes off to the war in Europe. Over the next couple of decades, through various scenarios, we see the intense love that Skeffington has for Fanny, and the complete ambivalence she has for him, particularly when she gives birth to their only child, a daughter also named Fanny. The couple lives together but live their separate lives and have their flings until Fanny decides to sue Skeffington for divorce on grounds of adultery. He decides to take his daughter and travel to Europe where WWII has not yet begun, and in the meantime, Fanny is jet setting and dating men half her age because she has managed to keep her beauty. When the war begins and her now grown daughter comes home because of the persecution of Jews, Fanny's world begins to crumble. She develops diphtheria and while she comes out of it, the disease has wreaked havoc on her appearance and she now doesn't look 20 years younger than her real age, but more like 10 years older, a fact that shocks everyone who knows her. When she decides to try to gain her confidence back by hosting a party and inviting her former suitors, she is saddened when she realizes that they are all recoiling in horror when they see her, and has to endure the cattiness of their wives. The final blow to her ego comes when her daughter announces that she is marrying the young man that Fanny was seeing before she became ill, and is moving across the country. Fanny, realizing that she is alone, becomes despondent, until George shows up at her house, telling her that Skeffington is back from Europe and waiting for her. It is only then that she realizes that she does have a purpose in life, and that she always did love him, it just took a swift kick in the bustle to realize it.

    "Mr. Skeffington" clocks in at two and a half hours, and the summary is only part of the entire storyline. There is a lot of plot to digest in that period of time, but Davis and Rains are the perfect choices for their roles. The film was made in 1944, when Davis was in her mid-30's, but she still looked stunning, as opposed to the makeup job they did on her for the later years (they made 50 years old look like 75) which was an eerie premonition of her role 20 years later in "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" I always chuckle when someone is deemed to be "the most beautiful woman" or "the most wanted woman" because in reality you're kind of wondering what you're not seeing there, but with melodrama you do have to give a little leeway. Okay, in this case, a lot leeway. Claude Rains, one of my very favorite actors of all time, gave another fantastic performance as the cuckolded and heartbroken Skeffington. He always gives an element of reality with a touch of elegance that makes him very endearing. As stated earlier, the film is a bit long, but there were not a lot of pacing issues because the film carried itself from segment to segment relatively seamlessly.

    Another in a long list of wonderful melodramas, "Mr. Skeffington" is a very good classic film that I fear has been forgotten throughout the years. Its performances and adequately compelling story are enough to recommend it to classic film lovers, particularly those who are fans of Bette Davis or Claude Rains. Since I fit into all three of those categories, I give the film a firm 7/10.

  • Warning: Spoilers
    I saw Mr Skeffington again yesterday. I had not seen it for years. I remembered it mainly for Bette Davis's outlandish and melodramatic performance and Claude Rains's restrained and impeccable characterisation of Mr Skeffington. The film concentrates on Fanny's desperate wish to stay young and retain her youthful beauty (which of course, she doesn't) and, despite the film's age (1943) her vanity and self-absorption echoes down the years to today's young and beautiful women, all fashion and frivolity, without a notion or care of the political climate around them. The story has a perennial quality, while the film roots itself in the melodrama of the period, emphasised by the heavy set furniture and over-fussy interiors.

    Fanny's lack of awareness of the Wall Street Crash, or impending war, or the horrors of Nazism, is carefully drawn, without unbalancing the dramatic intent of the film's focus on Fanny, enough for the audience to understand just how shallow Fanny is, and by which the change of heart at the end, when lonely and with her beauty gone, she can afford to think of someone other than herself, is all the more poignant.

    The drama is almost totally set within Fanny's house (the short, other scenes only serve to show events or the passing of time) which enhances the self-centredness of Fanny's existence. The disasters which overtake her brother, Trippy, who is just like her, vain and silly, but without her beauty and advantage of not having to earn her own living, serve as a mirror-image of Fanny herself and the device of her catching diphtheria through silly vanity (going sailing at the age of 40 in flimsy clothing and nearly catching her death) is exactly right to end her life of the 'beauty'. The adroit shift in emotional weight when Mr Skeffington returns from Germany, having lost his sight in a German concentration camp, takes the film to a different level. How appropriate that silly Fanny should lose her beauty through disease, but Mr Skeffington lose his sight as a victim of Nazi Anti-Semitism. Age, feeling, sensitivity, emotion, finally catch up with Fanny and the sea-change is wonderfully portrayed by Davis and the coming back together of husband and wife is one of the most memorable endings of Bette Davis's films, far more effective than her death in Dark Victory, or even 'Don't ask for moon, we have the stars' ending of Now Voyager.

    I was delighted to see this excellent film again and feel it should certainly be counted among Bette Davis's (and Claude Rains's) best.
  • It's the 1920's, in New York, when Fanny Trellis (Bette Davis) marries into a loveless marriage--to one of many gentlemen friends of hers, Job Skeffington (Claude Rains), an older, well-off, Jewish banker. Why would the most beautiful, seductive & most sought after lady in town do such a thing? To rescue her little brother, Trippy (Richard Waring), from an embezzlement trial. Yes, for Mr. Skeffington's money; but, not for herself.

    While she's married, the flamboyant & beautiful seducer of many men suitors is proposed to over & over again. There's no secrecy about it as, one by one, man after man leaves Fanny's upstairs bedroom frustrated & dejected after proposing to the married woman & being repeatedly denied. As Mr. Skeffington shows each of them in & out of his (& her) home's front door, sometimes even drinking with them while they wait in line to propose to his gorgeous wife, he shows remarkable restraint, the utmost patience & total self-confidence. This is Claude Rains, the consummate gentleman.

    Because of Fanny's seductive beauty power & the scenes with male suitors who keep calling upon her after she's married, the movie is a melo-comedy. Subtly so. However, towards the end, as age & illness become central elements in the Skeffington's marriage, you'll learn why it's also a fabulous romance perfectly portrayed by Davis & Rains: a tear-jerker. Rains is one of the few actors from whom Davis couldn't steal the show! He held his own in "Now, Voyager" (1942) as Dr. Jaquith, the instrumental clever psychiatrist who brought the immortalized Charlotte Vale (Bette Davis) out of her (s)mothered shell. As Mr. Skeffington, Claude Rains holds his own lead quite admirably well & for it was nominated to receive the 1945 Oscar as Best Supporting Actor. Davis & Rains make quite a marvelous on screen pair. Both of their voices, accents & speech patterns are classy & mesmerizing in this movie.
  • Mr. Skeffington is remarkable for its time because it candidly deals with the subject of anti-semitism. Skeffington is a successful Jewish stockbroker who rose from the slums. Fanny Trellis came from aristocratic wealth but is now broke. Their marriage of convenience outrages Fanny's blueblooded family and relatives. The film contains a candid treatment of marital disintegration and mutual infidelity followed by a typical N.Y. fault-based divorce (in which both parties are at fault but the husband allows a default divorce to proceed). Fanny gladly gives up custody of her daughter so that she can maintain her liberated lifestyle; little Fanny is responsibly raised by her father (who schleps her off to Germany). There is also a painful scene in which father and daughter agree to stay together in which the father warns her that by staying with him she will be treated as Jewish and will confront discrimination, especially in Germany. All of this was quite unusual for films of the time. Of course, the film was made in 1944 when anti-Nazi themes were permissible, but even then it was rare to see even reasonably candid treatment of divorce and child custody issues and rarer yet to see anti-semitism.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    So many folks have written about the magnificent performances and story line, I don't want to re-iterate, but I do want to speak to the amazingly ahead of its time subject matter of interfaith (and at the time considered interracial) marriage. I can only think of a very few films of the era or shortly thereafter that spoke to the topic. I am old enough to remember when Jews, Asians and Latino's were considered people of "color." Many country clubs were "restricted" and the subject of interfaith relationships in the media almost always portrayed a "doomed" picture.

    Kudo's to the brilliance and prescience of the makers of this film to bravely go where few dared at the time.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "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.
  • Some of the best movies came from the 1940's. I always watch a movie when it is a 1940 movie. This one was one of the best, with the characters and the theme. The main characters seemed to be perfectly matched to the actors. The characteristics of the people in the movie were crystal clear...good and less that good. I really got into the movie and have seen it five times, and see something new each time. I'll watch it again when it comes on TV. I was entranced with Claude Rains, as I have been with each of his portrayals in other movies. Bette Davis is always the STAR, and the supporting figures showed more personality that usual. All in all, it was a great way to spend a couple hours.
  • Bette at her best, (and most cruel) Mr. Skeffington is a movie I had at first avoided watching as it seemed like a comedy of manners or a "period film" frozen in time. Not the case at all. Not only is this a brilliant theme (especially for 1944) But it is also well worth watching for Claude Rains, as the be-trodden Skeffington, and Davis as his narcissistic wife.

    It starts out with Davis marrying Skeffington to help her brother out with some debts. They were from an aristocratic, albeit now broke family. Skeffington is a wealthy stockbroker who marries Fanny. He also happens to be Jewish, and after the marriage fades, takes his daughter to Germany, although he still seems to love Fanny in some sense.

    Fanny is impervious to any real affection turned her way. She is narcissistic and wants only more and more attention from younger and younger men. There are some amusing scenes as she flirts with handsome MGM extra Johnny Mitchell, who is surprised when he meets her 20 year old daughter (Davis coyly states; ..."she looks tall for her age"...) The expressions are priceless, and lines delivered with expertise as only Davis can. Finally Franny is struck with diphtheria. She returns from the hospital looking much older. The makeup used was somewhat of a surprise; the dramatic change makes Franny isolate herself, and she starts to hallucinate that Job (Rains) is watching her.

    She finally visits a psychiatrist, well portrayed by George Coulouris. He is amusing as he looks at her with disdain, and tells her to pick up and get back to her husband. At any rate, this is an enjoyable and unusual film from 1944. 9/10.
  • jotix10019 June 2005
    Watching "Mr. Skeffington" again, after not having seen the film for a while, one thing comes perfectly clear, the adage about love being blind never made more sense than what we witness Job Skeffington feel for his wife Fanny. His was a love like no other one; knowing she did not love him, he spent a lifetime to love her unconditionally until he loses his vision and can't see her dear face, which by that time is not the same as the young beauty he fell in love with and married.

    Vincent Sherman's direction of this film, based on Elizabeth Von Armin's novel, makes it a classic that endures the passing of time. Sure, it's pure melodrama, but as a film, "Mr. Skeffington" makes perfect sense because of its timeless story. It helps too that the black and white cinematography by Ernest Haller is in pristine condition. The music score one hears in the background by Franz Waxman enhances the movie.

    Bette Davis and Claude Rains had an easy way to compliment one another's work. It comes as no surprise these two actors made a tremendous contribution to the finished product as they are the only reason for watching the film. Bette Davis, with her enormous and expressive eyes is at the center of the story; a society beauty that was much in demand in her youth, sees her good looks fade as she ages in front of our eyes.

    Claude Rains is the generous man who falls in love with Fanny, even though her brother has swindled money from his firm in order to keep living in the style the Trellis family has been used to. Mr. Skeffington being Jewish has to endure all the prejudice directed at him.

    The supporting cast is excellent. Walter Abel, Marjorie Riordan, John Alexander, and the rest do a good ensemble job backing the principals.

    "Mr. Skeffington" will delight all viewers.
  • In 1914, in New York, Fanny Trellis (Bette Davis) is a shallow futile selfish woman surrounded by suitors and without any other preoccupation but her beauty. Her brother Trippy Trellis (Richard Waring) wasted the fortune of the family. When he fakes business in stock market and embezzles US$ 24,000.00 commission from the Skeffington Bank, the wealthy Job Skeffington goes to Trellis' house to charge the amount back and meets Fanny. He falls in love for Fanny and she marries him to save Trippy. Fanny gets pregnant, but her selfishness destroys their marriage and they divorce. Many years later, when Fanny has diphtheria and loses her beauty, she realizes that a woman is beautiful only when she is loved.

    "Mr. Skeffington" is a good melodramatic love story, silly and dated in many parts, but also very beautiful and touching. The story about a selfish woman that is only concerned with her beauty and does not learn how to grow-up and age has many memorable scenes, mostly because of the performance of Bette Davis and the make-up of the actors and actresses. In the present days, it can be clearly seem that the story shows also a quite incestuous relationship between Fanny and Trippy. My vote is eight.

    Title (Brazil): "Vaidade" ("Vain")
  • 'Mr Skeffington', by Elizabeth, came to the screen in 1944 with Claude Rains in the title role, Bette Davis as Fanny, Richard Waring as Trippy, Jerome Cowan as Edward, and others.

    An absorbing and entertaining novel could only be buoyed up by the playing of Bette Davis as the self-absorbed Miss Trellis, who has no knowledge of the real world as it affects her friends and her family. Trippy's money problems mean as little to her as the attentions of her tribe of young men. Fanny losing her beauty would be her greatest calamity ...

    As Job Skeffington, Trippy's understanding boss, Claude Rains adds a touch of dryness and dignity to the role. The teaming between Rains and Davis gives plenty of zip to the film and makes the whole thing hugely enjoyable - there is a tragic undercurrent to this story that both actors could carry off completely.

    'Mr Skeffington' is excellent and one of those great 1940s wallows they just don't make anymore [sigh].
  • Warning: Spoilers
    More good drama from Warners with Bette Davis and Claude Rains. These two shared a terrific screen rapport, and MR SKEFFINGTON is perhaps the best example of their playing together.

    Davis stars as Fanny Trellis, an extremely vain woman who values her looks above everything else. She does car fore her brother Trippy (Richard Waring) though, and marries the rich Claude Rains in order to help him financially. Rains is completely in love with Davis, and silently, lovingly, waits in the background hoping that Davis will some day feel the same way about him.

    Rains is just brilliant in his role, he's the one we remember even if he does disappear from the film for about 45 minutes. His scene with his screen daughter is probably the most emotional moment I can think of that Rains played- bar, perhaps, realising his love for cool blonde wife Ann Todd is "of the romantic kind" in Lean's THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS. Davis is fascinating as Fanny Trellis in a role that Davis normally didn't gravitate towards. Davis, even if she isn't possessed with Vivien Leigh-like looks, makes us truly believe that she is indeed the belle of the ball through her feminine, flighty mannerisms, soft vocal tone and vacuous giggling at her many admirers. She's a woman who lives a life of delusion, and there are very few moments on film so honest as the talking-to the older Fanny (who has lost her looks and is plastered in make-up) gets from a psychiatrist! Walter Abel gives great support, solid as a rock, as Fanny's cousin. Richard Waring, however, is a different matter altogether. His acting is quite bad and when he does act, he overacts. Davis' devotion to her brother Waring is made to seem ridiculous, and Fanny stupid, by Waring's portrayal. This has the effect of shifting more audience sympathy onto Rains, which I don't think is quite the effect the scriptwriters were hoping for.

    The film covers a lot of ground, taking in WW1, the roaring 20s (Bette in flapper dress) and the rise of Hitler in Europe through the 30's. It's a long haul, yet it's worth it for Rains and Davis. Love is truly blind (metaphorically and literally) in this film, and you want to kick Davis for not realising the deep, abiding love of her husband. However, the ending is quite satisfying as Fanny Trellis finally learns that "A woman is only ever truly beautiful when she is loved". Amen to that.
  • arturus24 December 2008
    In a first class production, Davis and Rains provide two more character portraits: Fanny Trellis, vain and superficial, and Job Skeffington, patient and loving. Davis' performance in particular is impressive, showing her versatility and insight as an actor. Her portrayal of Fanny is totally different from the characters she played the year before this production, in "Watch on the Rhine" and "Old Acquaintance", and the year after, in "The Corn is Green". And in this one, she allows herself to to appear less than glamorous: her character ages hideously, true to the character. This was one daring theater artist!

    Besides the usual opulent and beautiful production from the Warners studio, what no one seems to mention here is Franz Waxman's musical score, funny and brilliant, full of Straussian touches and near-quotes, just right for the period it depicts, from pre-World War I to the late 1930s.
  • It truly must be a fad of not just an era but a generation that to talk quickly, clearly and with a large vocabulary automatically puts you higher upon the to tum pole. This movie is no exception but its great wordplay at times can be witty without attempting to belittle an audience. At times I found myself questioning the direction of the movie, and although most turns reached a conclusion I was in fact left disappointed thinking I have seen an unnecessary scene or two that did not help progress the storyline. I have found this movie to be romantic in the way that only time can strengthen love and even forge it. This is just one of those great movies to watch on a lonely rainy day.
  • soaps98771 February 2004
    I love this movie. Its my second favorite movie of Bette Davis. (My first is Now Voyager). It has a little comedy in it too. She plays a women with many boyfriends who's afraid of getting old and gets married to a rich man whom she doesn't love at first, but when she gets old she grows to love and take care of. I am hoping that it will soon come out on DVD.
  • This movie displays some of the greatness of Bette Davis' acting skills. This could have been just another throwaway movie from the 1940's, but Bette Davis makes it a must-see classic. Even though Ms. Davis was never (in my opinion) a very attractive woman to look at, she absolutely convinces the viewers that she is a gorgeous society girl with an endless array of suitors. Throughout the entire movie she plays up the ditsy, self-absorbed nature of her character, but at the end she gets to redeem her entire life by a very magnanimous act. What most of the reviews don't tell you (this is not a spoiler) is that the three actresses who play her daughter (at three different time periods) are wonderful. The three of them really look like you are watching the same person grow up from a toddler to a young woman. The little girl has a line that you'll want to play over and over, it is so cute (better than Zuzu's lines in "It's a Wonderful Life"). I adore movies from the 1940's, and have seen hundreds of them, but this is now one of my favorites.
  • This film left me very confused about the directorial effort. The first 3/4 of the film was very engrossing, good writing, good direction, excellent performances. The last 1/4 of the film is a trite, confusing mess...I looked it up online to see if they had changed directors during the filming. It was that bad. I wondered at the time if the actors were aware of how badly the film was drifting. The over the top performance by Davis doesn't work in the later stages of the film. It was impossible for me to feel a great deal of sympathy for her character. I love Claude Rains but he became more of a plot device in the last 1/4 of the film. This movie would have benefited greatly by some decisive cutting in the editorial department.
  • Mr. Skeffington (1944)

    A full blooded romance, tragic and comic, with political and personal points made for the final two years of the war against the Nazis. Yes it has Bette Davis and Claude Rains (and a huge cast of first rate secondaries). Yes it has Ernest Haller behind the camera, and Franz Waxman in charge of music. Yes the screenplay was written by the incomparable Epstein brothers (most famous for "Casablanca"). And yes it has a director who is better known for his affairs with Joan Crawford and Rita Hayworth, Vincent Sherman.

    Sherman surely gets the credit for pulling off all these great scenes, keeping the flow over the decades, and making the ending worth the long path getting there. But he had the best support in the world, Warner Bros. being at its studio machinery peak. And it's high drama material of course, dealing with every big topic from family loyalty to greed to vanity to true friendship to redemption. And it covers all the big historical moments (some very briefly, or with comic indifference) like WWI, the Crash, the Depression, and the beginning of WWII. The final scenes are further examples of the movies subtly (or not so subtly) pressing the case for American involvement in the war.

    As wonderful as Rains is in his somewhat restrained role (it is commented on that he never smiles and has sad eyes, both true), this is a Bette Davis movie. She is not only in nearly every scenes, she's goes through an incredible range of moods. She is supposed to play an unparalleled beauty, and there was some question whether she was the right kind of woman for that role. She has command, charisma, and confidence enough, for sure, but she doesn't radiate the way a Garbo does. But then, Garbo couldn't act like Davis, not by half for this kind of role, and Davis makes the story something more complicated. One of the lasting themes is how beauty depends on love, or on being loved, and so she has beauty in excess because she is loved (or apparently loved) by so many.

    This is a melodrama of the best kind, like "The Little Foxes" or "Now Voyager." Yes, all Davis movies. She made these stories bigger than life because she, somehow, was bigger than life. But there are a million other things to watch happening, too, from lots of snappy (and witty) dialog to a slick and fluid photography. Note, if you have time, the two steps leading from the large entry parlor of the house where most of the movie is set down to the parlor. It's here, looking up and looking down, or moving up or down, that many of the major events of the movie have their roots. Including during the last few minutes.
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