Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Jezebel (1938).

Jezebel (1938). Drama film directed by William Wyler.Cast: Bette Davis and Henry Fonda, supported by George Brent, Margaret Lindsay, Donald Crisp, Richard Cromwell, and Fay Bainter. The film was adapted by Clements Ripley, Abem Finkel, John Huston and Robert Buckner, from the play by Owen Davis, Sr.

The story is about a headstrong, controlling, young woman named Julie Marsden, who is engaged to a sucessful banker, Preston Dillard. Wanting to get even with Preston, for not dropping his work to help her shop for a dress, she orders a beautiful red dress to wear to ball. It was the custom for all the proper unmarried women to wear white dresses and no one could say anything to change her mind.

Preston and Julie's, entrance is met with disapproval by everyone at the ball. She is embarrassed and begs Preston to take her home, angry he forces her to dance with him. All the other dancers leave the floor, leaving them alone. When, the orchestra stops playing, Preston orders them to continue and they finish the dance.

Preston breaks off their engagement, not before Julie slaps him in the face. Aunt Belle Massey, tells her to go after Preston and beg his forgiveness, but she refuses, believing that he will come back to her. He leaves town and heartbroken Julie, closes herself off from the world.

A year later, Preston returns, to help Dr. Livingstone, try to prevent an outbreak of yellow fever. Julie goes to him and begs for his forgiveness. That is when Preston, introduces her to his wife Amy, who he married while away. Heartbroken, Julie has a skilled duellist Buck Cantrell, challenge Preston, but the plan backfires. Preston's brother Ted, is the one who accepts the challenge.In a twist of fate, Ted wins.

A epidemic of yellow fever hits the city and Preston becomes ill and is quarantined on an island. While Amy, is making plans to go to care for him, Julie stops her and begs to go in her place.

This is a wonderful period film.. This maybe one of Bette Davis' best and most memorable performances. Fay Bainter, gives a wonderful performance as Aunt Belle. Henry Fonda, performance shows a hint of his future as a Hollywood star.

Fun Facts:

Has been called a black-and-white version of Gone with the Wind (1939), which was in its pre-production stages at the time.

Some scenes were filmed around Henry Fonda, to allow him to be with his wife as she gave birth to their daughter Jane Fonda, including scenes with the sometimes-prickly star, Bette Davis. As the star of the film Davis was within her rights to insist that Fonda remain until their scenes were finished, but she allowed him to complete his shots and leave.

Margaret Lindsay (September 19, 1910 - May 9, 1981). She was best known for her supporting work in films of the 1930s and 1940s such as: Jezebel (1938) and Scarlet Street (1945) and her leading roles in "B movies" such as the, Ellery Queen series in the early 1940s.She is best known for her performance in the film, The House of the Seven Gables(1940) .

All This and Heaven Too (1940).

All This, and Heaven Too (1940). Drama film directed by Anatole Litvak. The screenplay was adapted by Casey Robinson from the novel by Rachel Field. The music was by Max Steiner and the cinematography by Ernie Haller. Cast: Bette Davis and Charles Boyer with Barbara O'Neil, Jeffrey Lynn, Virginia Weidler, Helen Westley, Walter Hampden, Henry Daniell, Harry Davenport, George Coulouris, Montagu Love, Janet Beecher and June Lockhart. Rachel Field's novel is based on actual people and events.

While teaching at a New York girls' school, a teacher shares her romantic story with her students on how she became known as "Mademoiselle D ".

Her story begins as Henriette Deluzy-Desportes, voyages from England to France to work as governess for the family of, Duc de Praslin. She quickly learns of the Duchess's jealous love that she has for her husband, the Duc. Feeling bad for the children, who have emotionally abused and neglected, Henriette wants to give them the love that they have never known. It soon becomes obvious that the Duc, does not love his wife and He and Henriette become close friends. When this friendship causes gossip, the Duc stops seeing Henriette and goes back to his jealous wife.

He visits Henriette and the children at his family estate in Melan. After a few days, the Duchess and her father, the Marechal Sabastiani, arrive and dismiss Henriette with the promise of a letter of reference. Of coarse the letter is never sent and Henriette, unable to find a job lives in poverty. As the love between the duke and Henriette continues to grow, it leads to a tragic ending.

I though Bette Davis and Charles Boyer had wonderful on screen chemistry, in their only film together. Barbara O'Neil, who the year before had played Scarlett O'Hara's mother in "Gone With The Wind", gives an amazing performance as the jealous wife.

Fun Facts:

Warner Bros. erected 67 sets for this movie, a record at the time.

Bette Davis' 37 costumes cost $1,000 each.

Reportedly, Bette Davis had an affair with director Anatole Litvak while he was still married to Miriam Hopkins. This led to a life-long mutual hatred between the two actresses and added to their on-screen chemistry in their two films together, The Old Maid (1939) and Old Acquaintance (1943).

Contrary to his screen image, 'Charles Boyer' was short, paunchy and had a receding hairline. When Bette Davis first saw him, he was out of costume, so she did not recognize him and tried to have him removed from the set.

The Scandal revolving around the case of Choiseul-Praslin's murder of his wife was one of the contributing factors to the 1848 Revolution.

In the film, the Duc and Duchess have four children, while the real Duc de Choiseul-Praslin and Duchess had ten children together.

Henriette Deluzy-Deportes is an ancestor of Rachel Field, the author of the book the movie is based on.

Barbara O'Neil was extremely unhappy with how her character was portrayed on screen; she felt that the Duchess should be less glamorous and much older looking so that it would make more sense that her character would have more reason to be jealous of the much younger Henriette.

The budget for this film was ridiculously high for a Warner Brothers production; Warner Brothers was famed for releasing films with low production costs. Jack Warner wanted a film that would be similar to "Gone with the Wind" and spared no expense in trying to achieve his goal.

The murder of the Duchess de Praslin contributed to the outbreak of the French revolution.

A snow globe features in the movie. Snow globes are thought to have originated in France in the early 1800s and contained many tiny chips of fine porcelain.

Was June Lockhart's second film, and first credited role. Out of the four children starring in the movie, she was the only one to continue acting in to adulthood.

Reportedly it took forty minutes to dress Bette Davis each day in her historically accurate costumes with several layers of under garments and corsets to help her maintain the correct posture and movement

There are over 150 different paintings featuring in the movie. Set building and set decoration took nearly 70% of the film budget.

Barbara O'Neil (July 17, 1910 – September 3, 1980), debuted in the film Stella Dallas(1937) and in 1939 she was cast in the role of Ellen O'Hara, Scarlett O'Hara's mother, in Gone with the Wind, after the role was turned down by Lillian Gish. The following year, she performed in the film, All This and Heaven Too; she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role. Her later films include: Shining Victory (1941), I Remember Mama (1948), Whirlpool (1949) and The Nun's Story (1959).

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Little Foxes(1941).

The Little Foxes(1941). Directed by William Wyler. The screenplay by Lillian Hellman is based on her 1939 play of the same name.

The story is about how Southern aristocrat Regina Hubbard Giddens, fights for wealth and Independence in a time when a father sons only could be legal heirs. Regina's, brothers Benjamin and Oscar are wealthy, while she depends on her sickly husband Horace for financial support, who has been away being treated for a heart condition.

Oscar along with Benjamin, want to build a cotton mill. They meet with their sister to ask her for $75,000 to invest in their idea. Oscar proposes a marriage between the first cousins, his son Leo and Regina's daughter Alexandra, but they are repulsed by the suggestion. When Regina asks Horace for the money, he refuses and she tells him his refusal is not important since he will die soon.

Ben and Osca, pressure Leo into stealing Horace's railroad bonds from the family business to obtain the money needed to start the mill. Horace tells Regina what her bothers did and she comes up with a plan for larger share of the mill by blackmailing her brothers about the theft.

Hurt and angry, Horace changes his will leaving Alexandra everything except the railroad bonds. Regina is forced out of the deal, her brothers will have to go on with their plans without her.

Regina tells Horace that she has always had contempt for him and when he suffers a heart attack she makes no effort to get him his medicine. This is one of the scenes you will not soon forget because of the shocking nature of it. Regina cold demeanor is terrifying, while you watch Horace fighting for his life. Horace dies without anyone knowing his plan, now Regina is free to blackmail her brothers. Will the price she pay for her evil plan leave her wealthy but completely alone?

Who better to play the evil Regina than... Bette Davis, who gives another Oscar worthy performance, leading a perfect cast through this amazing film.

Fun facts:

Bette Davis and William Wyler fought a during filming. Disagreements ranged from Davis's interpretation of the character to the appearance of the house, to her appearance. Davis walked out of production, but returned when she heard rumors she was going to be replaced by Katharine Hepburn or Miriam Hopkins.

Teresa Wright's debut and her first Oscar nomination.

Patricia Collinge debuted in film, The Little Foxes(1941), she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Other films include: Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Teresa (1951), Washington Story (1952), and The Nun's Story (1959).

According to the featurette included in the DVD of, Shadow of a Doubt, Collinge rewrote the scene between Teresa Wright and MacDonald Carey in the garage. Hitchcock was delighted and used her rewrite. Collinge also worked with Hitchcock's wife Alma Reville and Ben Hecht (all uncredited), on the screenplay for Hitchcock's next film, Lifeboat (1944).