Mr. Skeffington

  • 1944
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

A long deluxe soap opera that follows Davis and Rains for 26 years and gives the audience the opportunity to watch Davis age through some brilliant makeup by Perc Westmore. She is a gorgeous New York socialite who learns that her brother, Waring, is guilty of stealing money from Rains's bank in order to make up his gambling losses. She's informed of this...read more

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A long deluxe soap opera that follows Davis and Rains for 26 years and gives the audience the opportunity to watch Davis age through some brilliant makeup by Perc Westmore. She is a gorgeous New York socialite who learns that her brother, Waring, is guilty of stealing money from Rains's

bank in order to make up his gambling losses. She's informed of this by Rains himself, a bright financial Merlin who seems to be able to turn anything into profits. Davis persuades Rains not to press charges against her brother, agreeing to marry him in a loveless, but friendly union. Waring is

outraged that his sister sacrificed her life because of him and he leaves town to join the British air corps and fight in WW I. He is killed in the service and Davis is shattered, blaming her husband for her brother's death. She gives birth to a daughter, but after the war she and Rains divorce.

He grants her a generous settlement then takes their daughter and moves to Europe while Davis engages in a series of affairs. WW II begins and Rains sends their daughter, Riordan, now 18, back to the States. Davis is currently dallying with Drake, a handsome engineer, and when they go on a sailing

trip, Davis contracts diphtheria. She survives but the disease causes her hair to fall out and ravages her beautiful face. Davis tries everything to look better, all the tricks of the makeup trade, but it's to no avail. She is then stunned when Drake marries her daughter and they move to

California. Alone and despondent, Davis hears that Rains, who spent time in a Nazi concentration camp, has returned from Europe. She visits him and finds he's blind and penniless. He remembers Davis as being the most beautiful woman in the world, so when she says she would like nothing better than

to spend the rest of her life taking care of him, Rains forgives all and they embrace at the fade-out.

This was a demanding part for Davis, calling on her to go from girlish glee to churlish bitterness. In addition to the marvelous makeup, Davis lent credibility to the transformation by deftly using her voice. She pitched her normally deep voice about eight notes higher when playing the younger

role. Then, as the picture progressed, she lowered the tone until, by the time she reached 50 or so (and looked 80), her voice was back to her normal bass-baritone. Rains is also effective as the staid but compassionate banker. Even with the fine performances, this is still basically

melodrama--finely polished melodrama, to be sure, but little more. Davis was nominated for Best Actress, losing to Ingrid Bergman in GASLIGHT, and Rains earned a Best Supporting Actor nomination, losing to Barry Fitzgerald for GOING MY WAY.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: A long deluxe soap opera that follows Davis and Rains for 26 years and gives the audience the opportunity to watch Davis age through some brilliant makeup by Perc Westmore. She is a gorgeous New York socialite who learns that her brother, Waring, is guilty… (more)

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