World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Mr. Skeffington

Article Id: WHEBN0000181329
Reproduction Date:

Title: Mr. Skeffington  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Claude Rains, Bette Davis, Gigi Perreau, Richard Erdman, Ernest Haller
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Mr. Skeffington

Mr. Skeffington
Original poster
Directed by Vincent Sherman
Produced by Julius J. Epstein
Philip G. Epstein
Jack L. Warner
Written by Elizabeth von Arnim
Julius J. Epstein
Philip G. Epstein
Starring Bette Davis
Claude Rains
Music by Franz Waxman
Paul Dessau
Cinematography Ernest Haller
Edited by Ralph Dawson
Distributed by Warner Brothers
Release dates
  • May 25, 1944 (1944-05-25)
Running time
145 min.
Country United States
Language English

Mr. Skeffington is a 1944 American drama film directed by Vincent Sherman, based on the novel of the same name by Elizabeth von Arnim.

The film stars Bette Davis as a beautiful woman whose many suitors, and self-love, distract her from returning the affections of her husband, Job Skeffington. It also makes a point about Skeffington's status as a Jew in 1914 high society and, later, in relation to Nazi Germany.

It stars Richard Waring.


In 1914, spoiled Fanny Trellis (Bette Davis) is a renowned beauty, with many suitors. She loves her brother Trippy (Richard Waring) and would do anything to help him. When Fanny learns that Trippy has embezzled money from his stockbroker employer Job Skeffington (Claude Rains), she marries the lovestruck businessman in order to save her brother. Disgusted by the arrangement, in part because of his prejudice against Skeffington being Jewish, Trippy leaves home to fight in the Lafayette Escadrille in World War I.

Job loves Fanny, but she is merely fond of him and largely ignores him. She becomes pregnant with his child, but, when Trippy dies in France, she states she is "stuck" with Job, and the marriage then becomes wholly loveless, continuing only for the child's sake. Job and George Trellis, Fanny's cousin, also enlist but remain stationed near home.

Fanny enjoys playing the wealthy socialite stringing along a persistent quartet of suitors who are unfazed by her marriage, as well as much younger lovers. Lonely, Job finds solace with his secretaries. When Fanny finds out, she divorces him, conveniently ignoring her own behavior.

Fanny neglects her young daughter (also called Fanny) who understandably prefers her loving father and begs him to take her with him to Europe. Although Job fears for his child and tries unsuccessfully to explain to her the nature of prejudice she will encounter as a Jew abroad, he finally, tearfully and joyfully, says yes to her. Fanny is relieved to be free of the encumbrance of a child. Fanny has a series of affairs, living well on the extremely generous settlement Job has left her, half his fortune, and hardly giving a thought to her daughter, whom she does not see for many years.

She retains her beauty as she grows older (much to the envy of her women acquaintances), but when she catches diphtheria, it ravages her appearance. In denial, she invites her old lovers (and their wives) to a party. The men are shocked (and the women relieved) by how much Fanny has changed, leaving her distraught. Ironically, her latest young suitor, Johnny Mitchell, falls in love with her daughter (played as an adult by Marjorie Riordan), who has returned from Europe because of the rise of the Nazis. They marry after only a few months and leave for Seattle. Fanny's daughter gently and honestly explains that while she wishes her mother well, she sadly cannot feel any real love for her, and pities her for discarding the one man who truly loved her. Shortly after her daughter's departure, Fanny suffers the ultimate humiliation when one of her old beaux makes what she at first believes to be a sincere marriage proposal, only to withdraw it when he learns that she is no longer wealthy. Fanny is left alone with her maid, Manby.

Fanny's cousin George (


  • Bette Davis as Frances Beatrice 'Fanny' Trellis Skeffington
  • Claude Rains as Job Skeffington
  • Richard Waring as Trippy Trellis, Fanny's brother
  • Marjorie Riordan as Fanny Rachel Trellis, Fanny and Job's daughter as an adult
  • Robert Shayne as MacMahon, a local gangster
  • John Alexander as Jim Conderley, one of Fanny's four persistent suitors
  • Jerome Cowan as Edward Morrison, one of Fanny's four persistent suitors
  • Peter Whitney as Chester Forbish, one of Fanny's four persistent suitors
  • Bill Kennedy as Bill Thatcher, one of Fanny's four persistent suitors
  • Johnny Mitchell as Johnny Mitchell, a younger suitor of Fanny's who later marries her daughter. Born Douglas N. Lamy, this actor changed his name to that of his character.
  • George Coulouris as Doctor Byles
  • Dorothy Peterson as Manby, Fanny's housekeeper


According to the 1989 book Bette & Joan: The Divine Feud by Shaun Considine, Davis was going through incredible personal torments at this time, which was reflected in her treatment of co-stars on this film, and several others at the time, culminating in a vicious personal attack: apparently, while Davis was away from her dressing room, the eyewash she always used after filming the day's scenes had been poisoned, causing Davis to scream out in pain. Director Vincent Sherman, with whom Davis had once been romantically involved, admitted to the detectives investigating the incident, "If you asked everyone on the set who would have committed such a thing, everyone would raise their hand!" Even Bette Davis herself is quoted as saying, "Only a mother could have loved me at this point in my life."


Bette Davis was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress, while Claude Rains was nominated for Best Supporting Actor.

External links

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from School eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.