Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Performance Review: Bette Davis in Jezebel
Bette Davis receved her 2nd Best Actress nomination and won the Oscar for playing Julie, a stubborn southern belle ahead of her time in Jezebel.
Jezebel is one mess of a movie. It starts out rather mild and pleasant, but as the film goes on, it turns into soapy melodrama. I also was stuck with lousy sound and the accents are so thick it made things hard to understand at times. But the acting is overall strong, especially by Bette Davis.
Bette Davis plays Julie Marsden, a young woman who is ahead of her time. She is rebellious and full of life. However, this makes her cause trouble and she is very spolied. Her boyfriend Preston (Henry Fonda) is fed up with her, especially after she wears a red dress to a ball (An unmarried woman had to wear white to formal occasions in those times) and a year later, comes back and marries another woman.
Bette Davis does a terrific job in the 1st half of the film. She is spoiled, free-spirited, and full of soythern fire. She is extremeley fun to watch and has captivating presence. Her chemistry with Fonda is also great, especially that famous red dress scene. The two actors do brilliant jobs with it. She also injects the character with a lot of underlying subtlety. She shows the internal battle and all the internal feelings going on in her head.
Unfortunately, the film starts to become ridiculous and this affects Davis's performance. She is still very strong, but the mediocrity surrounding her brings her down a bit. But she still has many fabulous scenes, like the scene with her and Fonda in the garden. She is so luminous and alluring! Her end scene is also wonderful, although the ending is rather unbelievable too.
So, overall, a very memorable and strong performance that is brought down a bit by the material, but is always above it. A worthy winner.