Mr. Skeffington

dir. Vincent Sherman

TIFF Cinematheque - Hollywood Classics

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A vain, flirtatious socialite (Bette Davis) uses, abuses, and finally comes to love her gentle and eternally patient husband (Claude Rains) in this endlessly entertaining, decade-spanning melodrama.
"She was very lucky that Mr. Skeffington was such a gentleman!" cried the posters for this eternally entertaining melodrama set in 1914 Manhattan, in which Davis, as vain, flirtatious socialite Fanny Trellis, gets to age twenty years and hideously lose her beauty to disease — little wonder that she secured yet another Academy Award nomination as Best Actress. Dedicated only to her frivolous self and to her scoundrel brother Trippy Trellis, Fanny reluctantly marries Jewish businessman Job Skeffington (Claude Rains, Davis' favourite co-star) to cover for Trippy's embezzlement from Skeffington's stockbrokerage. Dismissive of her doting husband, who has all the patience denoted by his name, Fanny basks in the adoration of assorted suitors, until death and diphtheria force her to reconsider her flighty existence. Distinguished by "lavish settings [and a] bravura Davis performance" (Leonard Maltin) and broaching both anti-Semitism and the rise of Nazism in its decades-spanning narrative, Mr. Skeffington has also made it to the Top Ten list of best Bette performances on the Davis-loving website "Rants of a Diva."