30 Days of Oscar: Day 27 - Jezebel

Movie: Jezebel
Year: 1939
Nominations: Best Picture, Best Actress (Bette Davis), Best Supporting Actress (Fay Bainter), Cinematography, Music - Scoring.
Wins/Snubs: The ladies took it, over actresses I barely know except Bainter in another role!  The film lost out to You Can't Take it With You by Frank Capra who also won director.  The Great Waltz took Cinematography in a field of 11, which is shocking. 
One of the things you can count on is that society changes.  The clothes I'm wearing while I type this would be considered horribly inappropriate for a woman for most of human history (jeans and a sweatshirt, don't be pervy).  It seems that every generation pushes the limits of clothing, to the mystification of their elders (think visible underwear, grunge, etc.).  In those terms, nothing Julie (Bette Davis) does in Jezebel is actually shocking - wearing a strapless, red dress to a ball where she should have been wearing white and sleeves.  The dress she wore is about 10x the material most of my students will be wearing come April.  But at that time, and in that place - the antebellum South, it was pushing the limits society, and in particular her beau, Preston (a young, supercute Henry Fonda), can handle. Since Pres is in line for big things at the bank, this kind of public shame is intolerable and he leaves her.  When he finally returns, he's married to someone else, and most has been forgiven, if not forgotten.  When the city of New Orleans is hit with a high incidence of yellow fever, they're all trapped at Julie's plantation for a while. 
For a movie that today could only be taken as a metaphor, Jezebel knows exactly what it is, what it's about, and when it should end.  We're given just a snippet of Julie's life, a terrible moment of petulance that costs her the man she loves, but the movie ends just as she and Pres are on another adventure without a knowable ending.  I would have hated to see Bette Davis as Scarlett in Gone with the Wind, but she made a pretty terrific Jezebel.  

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