Introducing the first Bette Davis feature film on our list and the first big movie for the actress herself! William Wyler’s Jezebel is about a 19th century Southern woman who ruins it with the man she loves and stops at nothing to win him back.
So picture this film as the original black and white version of Gone with the Wind. Bette Davis plays powerhouse woman Julie in love with her boyfriend but ruins it all when she decides to wear a red dress to an elegant ball instead of white like all of the other women. People of today might see this as overdramatic to break up with someone over the disapproval of a dress but see it as a feminist move on her part. She doesn’t want to conform like everyone else at the ball and be resorted to wearing the safe color of white. Red is still considered to be very sexy. Then again, she should have known that he would be PO’d about that. Other than this film taking place in the antebellum South, what this film also has in common with Gone with the Wind is seeing the female lead go to desperate lengths after someone that she can never have.
While there was a lot of drama that took place in the film such as feuds, jealousy, and an epidemic to top it all off, there was plenty of drama off-set too. For example, Bette Davis and director William Wyler had a steamy affair. Bette Davis was still married at the time to Harmon Nelson even though her marriage to him was shattering. She was even pregnant with Wyler’s baby at the end of shooting before she got an abortion. When shooting was over, so was their affair. Davis would always call Wyler the greatest love that she had. It broke her heart when he moved on with Margaret Tallichet. I guess it looks like Davis knew how it felt to be with someone she couldn’t have as well. Have you ever been in that situation before? This film gave Bette Davis her second Academy Award for Best Actress and the film also won Best Supporting Actress for Fay Bainter. A good melodrama to see and important to see for those who are a fan of Gone with the Wind.
Unfortunately, I could not find the film online but here is a trailer and feel free to comment on what you see: