MR. SKEFFINGTON

(1944)
With Bette Davis, Claude Rains, Walter Abel, Richard Waring, George Coulouris
Directed by Vincent Sherman
Black and White
Reviewed by JL

Come on, sweetie - everybody has a bad hair day     The sort of soap-opera epic that would be mini-series fodder today, MR. SKEFFINGTON is a mostly effective examination of vanity, faith and redemption, and social mores.  I have trouble accepting Bette Davis as "the most beautiful woman in New York," and she can be a bit shrill and annoying in later scenes when she's trying to pull off her middle-aged coquette act.  But there's no denying that her Oscar-nominated performance is powerful, or that she fulfills well her responsibilities of driving the film's pace and setting its tone.  Claude Rains (also Oscar-nominated) delivers a moving and understated performance as Job (how subtle) Skeffington, the Jewish investment broker whose emotional suffering during his loveless marriage to Davis nearly equals the physical suffering he endures in Nazi captivity.  The DVD release restores the film to its original 147-minute running time and includes a commentary track by 99-year-old director Vincent Sherman.   - JL

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