Tuesday, January 3, 2012

113. Jezebel

Directed by William Wyler

The book listed this as the second most famous film about a Southern belle, the other, of course, being Gone With the Wind.  I prefer Gone With the Wind, though Jezebel is a bit more socially conscious.  Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh have a lot more chemistry, than Henry Fonda and Bette Davis.

This film centers on Bette Davis who is a real hellcat and causes men to be completely miserable.  For instance, she wears an embarrassing dress that scandalizes society to get back at her boy toy for misbehaving.  Like I said, unlike Gone With the Wind, the Mammy character is absent which makes for a less inaccurate and offensive film.  Also, the heroes of the movie don't join the Ku Klux Klan  for the common good which is always a bonus.

 Bette Davis acts her tiny ass off in this film and won a well-deserved Oscar for it (take that Joan Crawford!).  This was a pretty interesting movie but a very uncomfortable one.  During the dress scene, I was cringing so much that I probably looked like I was having a seizure.  Still, it is worth watching just to Bette Davis' performance.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

It is a myth that this role was offered to Bette Davis after she was rejected from playing Scarlett O'Hara. IMDb acted really upset about this rumor but I have never heard it.

Julie's red dress was actually bronze.

Filming was interrupted frequently because Henry Fonda's wife was giving birth to their daughter, Jane Fonda.  She went on to star in some real classics...like...ahem...Monster-In-Law.



  1. I totally agree about the chemistry between Vivian and Clark being more intense. Good point!

  2. Bette Davis was always good as a prima donna. Here she has ample opportunity to be bitchy and self-centered and I can think of nobody doing that better.

  3. Thanks Rachel! And yes she was born to play this role.


    I found this ending a little bit implausible, to be honest. Yes, from the point of view of the drama and the story arc it was absolutely the right conclusion, but there's no way that his wife would have let Julie (Bette Davis) go in her place. Unless we are to assume that she bottled it and was suddenly too afraid to go to the island herself.

    On the other hand, I read that it is generally thought that Julie being willing to go in the first place is considered an unrealistic ending, the way her character suddenly changes from selfish to selfless for no good reason. I actually have no problem with that bit. It was her devotion to Pres (Henry Fonda) that led her to be hurt when he wouldn't leave the meeting, to wear the red dress in spite as a result and to provoke the duel because he got married. It doesn't take such a big leap from that to sacrificing herself for him.

    1. Maybe the wife was hoping Julie would bite it and then all her problems would be solved!