For me, there are three actors who were robbed of very deserved Oscars, robbed I tell you!
Cary Grant (for nearly any film he was in) Humphrey Bogart (For Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Petrified Forest or Casablanca) and Mr. Claude Rains for Mr. Skeffington.
I came upon this film late one night and being a larger than life Claude Rains fan I decided to stay up till nearly 3 a.m. on a work night to watch it. This film left me in tears. Claude Rains performance was perfect in every single way.
Mr. Skeffington takes place in New York City at the beginning of 1914. Bette Davis plays “Fanny” Trellis, a beautiful, highly self-absorbed woman, who is always surrounded by men willing and wanting to court her. She “plays” them and toys with them, never really interested in them. Claude Rains plays Job Skeffington, a wealthy NY stock broker who falls madly in love with Fanny.
When Fanny finds out that her brother Trippy stole a great deal of money from his employer and lost it at the race track, she starts to court his employer Mr. Skeffington. Fanny and her brother are living on no income and are near bankrupt and have no way to pay the money back, thus leading to her actions towards Mr. Skeffington. Soon they are married and her brother Trippy is highly upset with the marriage. Trippy ends up leaving for the army in France and soon dies in combat. Fanny blames her marriage to Mr. Skeffington as the reason her brother has died. Fanny finds out she is pregnant and her reaction is “Soon, I will be swollen, puffy and ugly.” She leaves for California to have her baby away from the people who know her in NY Society.
Soon after these series of events, she starts to go out nightly with a gangster who sets up a date so she can find her husband in the company of another woman. This leads to her divorcing Mr. Skeffington. He moves with their daughter to Europe during the World War. Years later her daughter returns home and beautiful young lady. The same day Fanny goes on a sailing trip with a younger beau and is diagnosed with diphtheria. This leaves her looking haggard and old. A cold punishment for a woman who has been obsessed with her own looks her entire life. Her daughter runs off to marry her mother’s younger beau and Mr. Skeffington returns to NY after surviving a concentration camp. She refuses to see him but, he is now blind and penniless. He needs and still loves her. Finally Fanny realizes that the looks are not everything in life.
What is it about this performance I regard so highly? It is Claude Rains’ ability to be stepped on and still show such grace and strength. His heart was constantly toyed with. You can see the pain in his eyes get more constant and deeper throughout the film. I admit, I cry during many films and this one always gets me. He is such a devoted husband and father putting up with Fanny’s constant need for male attention. He still loves her throughout this film. In the end when he is broken, and blind his emotion is intense and heartbreaking. I am so reminded of Lon Chaney’s performance in The Unknown The raw emotion, hurt eyes, powerful performance just sticks with me every time. He so deserved an Oscar for his performance. Hearing Robert Osborne tell of the others considered for this part such as Paul Henried makes me scratch my head. I could easily imagine others in the role of Fanny, but not Job. I feel it was one of the roles that Rains was born to play.
1945 Best Supporting Actor Category
WINNER: Barry Fitzgerald for Going My Way
Nominees: Claude Rains, Clifton Webb for Laura, Monty Woolley for Since You Went Away.
While I have not seen Any of these other films, I have my forever favorite with Claude Rains. His performance in Mr. Skeffington will forever be one of my favorites and I hope, one of yours as well.
I wrote this Blog for the 31 Days of Oscar Blog-A-Thon. Thanks Ladies for hosting! Sorry It isn’t as long as I would have hoped but, with the impending snowtacular, I’ve been piled under work all week.
Here I am again having to blog from my phone. (damn computer). On this particular Friday night I decided to finally sit down with my Rosalind Russell biography I found for 10 cents a few years ago. As I read the introduction I saw the word Skeffington. It did not refer to the film but my brain decided to go there, and as I read on I couldn’t stop thinking about Bette Davis and Claude Raines. so, I dug and found my DVD. It’s been about 6 months since I’ve watched it so, whats a better way to start my weekend?
As I sit here I realize how sad it always makes Me.
Play word association with anyone on the street.
Claude Raines—- who?
Ok, show them a photo, If they recognize him, it will be from Casablanca.
That’s great, but I find this to be my favorite of all of his films and performances. He is heartbreaking, brilliant and sweet. The way he puts up with Fanny is incredible. She beats him down and in his final scene he is beat, gray and blind. I find it to be so emotional and powerful, i cry every time. And every time i fall in love with him more and more.
I find it to be one of the most highly UNDER rated films of all time.
I’ve seen it maybe 100 times. I will watch it once and have a need to watch it about 5 more times the same month. Once my husband starts to complain, I will put it away and start all over again in a few months.
As much as I love this film and consider it one of my favorites, I have a complaint. I love love love Bette Davis, yet I don’t buy that she is the most beautiful, sought after woman in NYC. She is pretty, but not to the caliber they make you believe. Norma shearer, yes. Joan Crawford, yes. Bette Davis, not really. I know this is my personal option and may anger a few but, I will never get it.
In closing, this film always makes me giggle as do many of these classics. When Fanny faints you know she is with child. It’s the classic first symptom of pregnancy. If a lady faints, you know she’s in trouble. It makes me laugh every time yet i find it very sweet and innocent at the same time. Damn, don’t you wish they still did it that way? Now we have girls using gas station bathrooms and stealing pregnancy tests. I prefer a good faint. Ahhh, the good old days.
I’d love to hear your feedback on the wonderful Mr. Skeffington, and if you love it as much as I do.