Click here to buy Amazon movie bestsellers

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Jezebel (1938)

Jezebel is a very unusual name, standing in the scriptures for a cruel and immoral Queen of Israel, the wife of king Ahab of Israel. She persuaded her husband to start the worship of the Tyrian god Baal-Melkart into Israel, breaking the traditional worship of Yahweh. She was condemned by God, and consequently died a horrible death (and as a result, this name is almost never used as a name for children). The name, after this movie, also stands for a headstrong, arrogant lady who will do only as she pleases; and in the process loses all that she wanted, including the love of her life.
The movie starred Bette Davis, the leading female actress of her generation, at a time when she was struggling with the thought of not being considered for the role of the female lead in the great Civil War, 'Gone with the Wind'. In the midst of this came the movie, Jezebel, with a strong woman oriented role grounded in tragedy and eventually leading to despair, and which was also set in the Antebellum, the pre Civil War south. The movie was directed by the famous director, William Wyler.

Jezebel (1938) starring Bette David and Henry Fonda

Julie Marsden (Bette Davis) is a strong-willed lass in New Orleans, in love with, and engaged to the banker Preston 'Pres' Dillard (Henry Fonda). There is a ball, the most important party event of the year, where unmarried ladies are expected to wear white dresses. However, Julie is mad when Preston is unwilling to go with her for shopping for a dress, and in spite, orders a red dress (against the convention). She refuses to listen to anyone, and goes to the ball with Pres, where she faces shocked looks and disapproval. It is there that she realizes that she has committed a huge social blunder, but by then it is too late. Preston refuses to move away from there, and forces her to do a dance, till a time when they are the sole couple dancing.
Their engagement is broken, confirmed by the slap that Julie delivers to Pres. She refuses to go to him to ask for forgiveness, fully expecting that Pres will return to her. Instead, he goes off to the North, and Julie withdraws into a shell. A year later, Pres does return, but he is there with Dr. Livingstone to help in the preparation (by getting the authorities to take preparation) for avoiding a plague of yellow fever. This time, Julie pleads for forgiveness, but it is too late, Preston is already married, and introduces his Northern wife Amy (Margaret Lindsay).
Julie tries to get her admirer, Buck Cantrell (George Brent), to quarrel with Preston so that they would have to fight a duel, where Buck is an expert. However, things go wrong where Julie's brother Ted is the one who agrees to the duel, and in the duel, Ted unexpectedly wins, and Buck is shot. And then the final event. The yellow fever epidemic sweeps the town, and Preston is affected; he has to go to a quarantine center (located on an island). Julie convinces Amy that she will go to the island since she knows the local situation, including being able to handle the slaves (she wants to do this as repentance), and Amy agrees.

# Academy Award for Best Actress - Bette Davis
# Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress - Fay Bainter
# Academy Award for Best Picture - Hal B. Wallis and Henry Blanke (nominated)
# Academy Award for Best Cinematography - Ernest Haller (nominated)

Post a Comment