Archive of films Jezebel / Jezebel

1938, 103 min

Section: Tribute to William Wyler
Year: 2007

Bette Davis’s first film with William Wyler was considered flawless when it first came out and it is no less exquisite today. Jezebel, a drama about Southern aristocrats forced to combat their own pride, offers excellent acting performances and direction with inventive camera work, creating dramatic, impressive images.


“I am thrilled to death about Jezebel. I think it can be as great, if not greater, than Gone with the Wind – thank you for buying it,” wrote Bette Davis to Jack Warner after losing a lawsuit against Warner Brothers over the option of refusing second-rate roles without being penalised by having her work suspended. Her style preordained her for the role of the proud Southern beauty Scarlett O’Hara of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, and was set with every fibre of her being on portraying her. Warner Bros. had secured the pre-emptive rights to the novel’s adaptation but turned the concept over to David O. Selznick after disputes that had arisen with their star. As a sign of good faith however they acquired Jezebel for her, which promised a dramatically demanding role, backed by the sensitive direction of William Wyler, already renowned at the time. Though based on Owen Davis Sr.’s stage play of the same name, Jezebel relates to Gone with the Wind in a number of similarities: it takes place in the setting of the Antebellum plantation South, the customs and social conventions in the plot play an essential role, and the main character is also an outlandish woman whose self-worth, haughtiness, and indomitable temperament set her life in a tragic direction. By astutely exploiting the promotion of Gone with the Wind and riding the wave of interest in the comparable films, Jezebel became one of the company’s first prestigious productions. Davis received her second Oscar for her role as the humiliated Julie Marsden, willing to risk her life for the fulfilment of her love.


Hollywood Classics
Suite 31, Beaufort Court, Admirals Way, E14 9XL, London
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 207 517 7525

About the film

Black & white, 35 mm

Section: Tribute to William Wyler
Director: William Wyler
Screenplay: Clements Ripley, Abem Finkel, John Huston, Robert Buckner podle divadelní hry / based on a play by Owen Davis
Dir. of Photography: Ernest Haller
Music: Max Steiner
Editor: Warren Low
Producer: William Wyler
Production: Warner Bros.
Cast: Bette Davis, Henry Fonda, George Brent, Margaret Lindsay, Donald Crisp
Contact: Hollywood Classics


Catherine Wyler

Festival Organizer


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