The powerhouse that is Bette Davis is the subject of the latest blogathon, hosted by the lovely Crystal (In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood). So for this blogathon, I thought I’d write a little something about one of Bette’s lesser-known films, Mr Skeffington (1944), directed by Vincent Sherman. If you weren’t already pumped that Bette Davis is in it, here’s something else for ya: Claude Rains is in it too. I can almost hear you running down the stairs to go get the DVD. And so you should! Mr Skeffington is a great film, and if you like melodramatic films, you’ll love this one. It’s as melodramatic as Douglas Sirk directing Greer Garson and Tyrone Power in a CinemaScope film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet.
Bette Davis plays Fanny Trellis, the most beautiful and sought-after girl in town. She boasts many suitors but doesn’t love any of them. The one man she loves is her brother and after she finds out that he has embezzled money from his boss, Job Skeffington (Claude Rains), she decides right then and there that she is going to marry Mr Skeffington. Their marriage and its ups and downs have a saga feel to it and no one else in Hollywood could have played Fanny Trellis like Bette. Every emotion known to man is there. It’s a great performance and one that I suspect impersonators have studied very, very carefully over the years. It is simultaneously an unusual performance for Bette Davis and the most Bette Davis-like performance ever, if that makes sense. Which I’m sure it doesn’t.
Both Bette Davis and Claude Rains were nominated for Oscars and rightfully so. Mr Skeffington probably doesn’t get the attention it deserves, but it’s one of those films that you can watch on a rainy afternoon with a nice cup of tea.