Saturday, January 16, 2010

"Jezebel" is a pre "Gone with the Wind", airs on PBS

The William Wyler film “Jezebel” for Warner Brothers, made in 1938, is a kind of “pre Gone with the Wind” where here a young Bette Davis (she was only 30 then) plays the spoiled socialite Julie Marsden, who plots to get back at her somewhat northerner fiancée “Pres” Dillard (Henry Fonda). The movie is filmed in sparkling black and white, despite the crucial role that a red (or scarlet) gown plays in the story, and the BW works well with the flames at the end, where a New Orleans besieged by yellow fever takes the place of Atlanta routed by the Yankees. PBS aired the film Jan. 16. There are lots of dinner conversations about the politics of the south in 1850, when people did not grasp what was coming, but they did fear disease, and quarantined victims on an island. At the end, Julie (or Jezebel) brings herself into sacrifice.

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