Mr. Skeffington (1944)

146 mins | Melodrama | 12 August 1944

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HISTORY

A 12 Apr 1940 HR news item notes that Selznick-International was bidding for the screen rights to Countess Russell's novel. After Warner Bros. bought the book, a LAEx news item dated 28 Oct 1941 notes that Tallulah Bankhead, Gloria Swanson and Norma Shearer were all considered to play the role of "Fanny Skeffington." At the time, M-G-M was rumored to be interested in the film as a vehicle for one of that studio's many actresses. Other HR news items add the following information about the production: Warner Bros. considered Irene Dunne as a possible star for the film. Before his death in 1940, James Stephenson was cast as "Job Skeffington." Later, Paul Henreid was announced for the role opposite Bette Davis. Richard Waring was also tested for the lead, and Faye Emerson and Jean Sullivan were tested for the role of "Fanny Junior." Waring was eventually cast as "Trippy." Charles Drake was scheduled for a part but was drafted, although HR , Var and NYT erronously credit him with the part of "Johnny Mitchell." Instead, actor Johnny Mitchell, who was formerly known as Douglass Drake, made his screen debut in the part. According to studio memos reproduced in a modern source, in 1940, when Bette Davis was initially offered the role of "Fanny Skeffington," she turned it down, believing that as a thirty-two year old woman she could not convincingly play a woman of fifty.
       The OWI objected to one version of the script because of its portrayal of American anti-semitism and because American financiers were characterized as "shady." ... More Less

A 12 Apr 1940 HR news item notes that Selznick-International was bidding for the screen rights to Countess Russell's novel. After Warner Bros. bought the book, a LAEx news item dated 28 Oct 1941 notes that Tallulah Bankhead, Gloria Swanson and Norma Shearer were all considered to play the role of "Fanny Skeffington." At the time, M-G-M was rumored to be interested in the film as a vehicle for one of that studio's many actresses. Other HR news items add the following information about the production: Warner Bros. considered Irene Dunne as a possible star for the film. Before his death in 1940, James Stephenson was cast as "Job Skeffington." Later, Paul Henreid was announced for the role opposite Bette Davis. Richard Waring was also tested for the lead, and Faye Emerson and Jean Sullivan were tested for the role of "Fanny Junior." Waring was eventually cast as "Trippy." Charles Drake was scheduled for a part but was drafted, although HR , Var and NYT erronously credit him with the part of "Johnny Mitchell." Instead, actor Johnny Mitchell, who was formerly known as Douglass Drake, made his screen debut in the part. According to studio memos reproduced in a modern source, in 1940, when Bette Davis was initially offered the role of "Fanny Skeffington," she turned it down, believing that as a thirty-two year old woman she could not convincingly play a woman of fifty.
       The OWI objected to one version of the script because of its portrayal of American anti-semitism and because American financiers were characterized as "shady." In a letter to Warner Bros., the OWI stated: "This is just the kind of picture of America which the Fascists would like to see. They have deluged the world with propaganda about the money-mad Americans, and today are using this line to create a breach between us and our allies. Is this the picture we want to give other peoples as representative of America and the American way?..." The finished picture still contained the sections the OWI found objectionable.
       Modern sources add the following information about the picture: Bette Davis requested Vincent Sherman as her director. Color tests were made, but the studio ultimately decided to make the film in black and white. Shortly after completing Davis' wardrobe of around forty costumes, forty-one-year-old Orry-Kelly was drafted into the army. Bette Davis was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress and Claude Rains was nominated for Best Supporting Actor. Bette Davis reprised her role in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on 1 Oct 1945, co-starring Paul Henreid. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
27 May 1944.
---
Daily Variety
26 May 44
pp. 3-4.
Film Daily
31 May 44
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Apr 1940.
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 Nov 40
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jun 41
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jul 41
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Aug 43
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Sep 43
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Sep 43
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Oct 43
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Nov 43
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Nov 43
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
26 May 44
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
29 May 44
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Sep 44
p. 2.
Los Angeles Examiner
28 Oct 1941.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
4 Dec 43
p. 1654.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
27 May 44
p. 1909.
New York Times
26 May 44
p. 23.
Variety
31 May 44
p. 20.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Warner Bros.--First National Picture
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
MUSIC
Orch arr
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Mr. Skeffington by Mary Annette Beauchamp, Countess Russell (New York, 1940).
DETAILS
Release Date:
12 August 1944
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 25 May 1944
Production Date:
11 October 1943--late January 1944
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
12 August 1944
Copyright Number:
LP12774
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
146
Length(in feet):
11,457
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1914, beautiful Fanny Trellis is courted by many men including Jim Conderley, Ed Morrison and Thatcher. One evening, while her suitors wait downstairs, Fanny's cousin, George Trellis, returns home after several years away. George learns that contrary to their extravagant lifestyle, Fanny and her brother Trippy have no money. Trippy, however, now has a job working on Wall Street for Jewish Job Skeffington. Later that evening, Job calls unexpectedly for Trippy, who angrily refuses to see him. At George's instigation, he and Fanny speak to Job instead. Job has fired Trippy for embezzling and has come to ask him to repay the stolen money. He is stunned when Fanny explains their financial situation. The next day, Trippy threatens to commit suicide. Determined to save her brother, Fanny sets her cap for Job and soon marries him, even though Job fully realizes that Fanny does not love him. Her ploy backfires, however, when an angry Trippy leaves for Europe, and that night, Fanny locks Job out of her room. Fanny's suitors are unfazed by her marriage and continue to pursue her. Job endures their presence because, although Fanny enjoys their attentions, she always sends them away. On the night of the Skeffingtons' first anniversary, they learn that Trippy has joined the Lafayette Esquadrille and that Fanny is pregnant. Although Job is delighted by the coming child, Fanny sees it as a sign that she is growing old and insists on leaving for California until the baby is born and she is once again beautiful. Shortly after Fanny Junior is born, the U.S. enters the war. When ... +


In 1914, beautiful Fanny Trellis is courted by many men including Jim Conderley, Ed Morrison and Thatcher. One evening, while her suitors wait downstairs, Fanny's cousin, George Trellis, returns home after several years away. George learns that contrary to their extravagant lifestyle, Fanny and her brother Trippy have no money. Trippy, however, now has a job working on Wall Street for Jewish Job Skeffington. Later that evening, Job calls unexpectedly for Trippy, who angrily refuses to see him. At George's instigation, he and Fanny speak to Job instead. Job has fired Trippy for embezzling and has come to ask him to repay the stolen money. He is stunned when Fanny explains their financial situation. The next day, Trippy threatens to commit suicide. Determined to save her brother, Fanny sets her cap for Job and soon marries him, even though Job fully realizes that Fanny does not love him. Her ploy backfires, however, when an angry Trippy leaves for Europe, and that night, Fanny locks Job out of her room. Fanny's suitors are unfazed by her marriage and continue to pursue her. Job endures their presence because, although Fanny enjoys their attentions, she always sends them away. On the night of the Skeffingtons' first anniversary, they learn that Trippy has joined the Lafayette Esquadrille and that Fanny is pregnant. Although Job is delighted by the coming child, Fanny sees it as a sign that she is growing old and insists on leaving for California until the baby is born and she is once again beautiful. Shortly after Fanny Junior is born, the U.S. enters the war. When Trippy is killed, Fanny blames Job for his death, and Job finally realizes that Fanny will never love him. After the war ends, Job devotes himself to his daughter, while Fanny occupies herself with a series of lovers. During prohibition, Fanny attracts a bootlegger named MacMahon, who is determined to marry her. To convince her to divorce Job, he demonstrates that Job has had several mistresses during their marriage. Although Fanny's rejection of her husband can be seen as partly responsible for his behavior, Job agrees to a divorce. Not wanting to be bothered by a child, Fanny suggests that Job take custody of their daughter. Job is reluctant because of the difference in their religions and also because he plans to live in Europe, where the Fascists are coming to power. Fanny Junior's distress at losing her father, however, convinces Job to take her with him. Several years later, a middle-aged Fanny becomes involved with the much younger Johnny Mitchell, and Fanny Junior returns to the U.S. from Berlin. After sailing in stormy weather with Johnny, Fanny falls seriously ill with diphtheria. She recovers, but the illness ages her greatly, and she begins to hallucinate, imagining that she sees Job everywhere. A psychiatrist tells her the hallucinations are a subconscious manifestation of a need to see her former husband because, now that she is fifty, her romantic life is over. Determined to prove him wrong, Fanny throws a dinner party for her old suitors, only to discover that they are all appalled by her aged appearance. Only Edward still seems smitten, but Fanny quickly realizes that he is only interested in her money. When Fanny Junior later announces that she and Johnny are getting married and moving to Seattle, Fanny is left totally alone. The next morning, George tells Fanny that he has seen Job, now a broken man after his stay in a concentration camp. George begs Fanny to care for Job in return for his generous care of her, but she refuses, believing that her lack of beauty will drive Job away as it did all the others. When she realizes that Job is blind, however, she knows that here is one man who will always remember her as beautiful and welcomes him home. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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