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Mr. Skeffington

Mr. Skeffington
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Reviewer:Lucia Bozzola, Scripted by Philip Epstein and Julius Epstein form the novel by "Elizabeth", Bette Davis ages from beautiful New York coquette to a ravaged and chastened 50-year-old in the epic melodrama Mr. Skeffington (1944). Fearless about playing unlikable leads, Davis's Fanny Trellis Skeffington is an unstinting narcissist who cares only about the validation of her beauty by increasingly younger men. Photographed by Ernest Haller and costumed by Orry-Kelly to initially look her glamorous best, Davis ends up an over-made up gargoyle after Fanny's illness; fleeting close-ups of Fanny's ruined face reveal enough without lingering over her ugliness. As her rich husband Job, Claude Rains conveys his undying adoration for Fanny with masterful subtlety, lending quiet credence to his assertion that "a woman is beautiful only when she is loved." One of the first films to deal with anti-Semitism and Nazism, Job's Judaism makes him a less "suitable" match for socialite Fanny c. 1915; his concentration camp experience leaves him at Fanny's newly discovered mercy decades later. Smoothly directed by Vincent Sherman, Mr. Skeffington resulted in Davis's seventh Best Actress Oscar nomination, and a Supporting Actor nod for Rains. 20 minutes cut for time in 1944 were restored for the home video release. ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi