Thursday, May 11, 2023

Thursday Movie Picks-Period Drama


This is a wide open theme that Wandering Through The Shelves chose and I love it, but I narrowed it down a bit more. Here they are...

1. JEZEBEL-1938

This stars Betty Davis as a spoiled, willful brat from the South who loves the noble Henry Fonda and vice versa but she wants things her way. She demands rather than demures and, shocking, she decides to wear a red dress to the ball when virgins( Ha!) are to wear white. Well, that's just going too far and Fonda makes sure everyone sees her in red. I like this gal! He takes off but comes back with a wife. What will this Jezebel do? I mean, yellow fever is everywhere but this is love! This is an excellent vehicle for Bette who won the Oscar for her role as well as having a great affair with William Wyler, the director, who could match her punch for punch. Many years later, she said he was the love of her life and she was a fool for letting him go. 


Based on a true story about a gentle governess, played by Betty Davis, to a French Duc, played by Charles Boyer, who has children by a bitch of a wife. The wife is not exactly cracker Jack and thinks they are lovers and will steal the kids away. Davis and Boyer do love each other but never give in to their love. When his wife is murdered all hell breaks loose with gossip being #1. I found this performance by Davis very understated which is unique because it’s Bette Davis, but she handles the character well and she has good chemistry with Boyer. The costumes, like Jezebel are great but I really liked the story and knowing it’s a true story makes it even more special. By the way, this scandal brought the end of the  French Aristocracy.


Tallulah Bankhead originated the role on Broadway but Betty Davis secured the movie screen role and made the most of it as the shrewish wife of a noble but sickly, rich husband played perfectly by Herbert Marshall, one of my favourite actors. Davis has 2 brothers who are equally corrupt but can make it in the world because they are men while their sis is relegated to being a nice wife. Well, nice is the last word you would use for this character who should be considered one of the most evil for what she conjures up to make her wealthier than she already is. She will do anything to get ahead…anything. Bette was up for another Oscar but didn’t win and I think, maybe , she should have won. Love this film and it is a must see, in my humble opinion.

Which period dramas films would you choose?


  1. Hi, Birgit!

    How are you feeling today, dear friend? Much better, I hope. I've been thinking about you. Happy Thankful Thursday movie day!

    Yessum, I can imagine you in the title role of Jezebel, spitfire of the old south, "the story of a woman who was loved... when she should have been whipped!" Innocent, naïve and inexperienced, Shady would have been the ideal casting choice as the virgin who wears a white dress to the ball. I am not a very big Bette Davis fan, and therefore have not seen her in that first picture, nor have I seen All This, And Heaven Too. There are two aspects of the latter 1940 film that make me believe I'd enjoy it. First, it is based on a true story. Secondly, Bette Davis delivers an atypical, understated performance in her portrayal a refined, sensitive woman. I read about the deleted scene in which Chuck Boyer implores Bette to: “Come weeth me to ze Casbah.”

    As a Teresa Wright completist, I have seen The Little Foxes, her movie debut in the role of Alexandra Giddens. I enjoyed the film.

    I need to go to the well and name Summer of '42 (1971) as one of my favorite period dramas. Leads Jennifer O'Neill and Gary Grimes generate powerful chemistry. The screenplay is handled delicately and artfully, a slow burn that leads to an unforgettable conclusion and a wistful, narrated soliloquy - a beautiful piece of work from start to finish.

    I enjoyed your Bette Davis triple play. Please take good care of yourself and feel better soon. My next post at SPMM is the annual Mother's Day tribute to Helen this Sunday. Bless you, dear friend BB!

  2. LOVE how you went with this Birgit!!!

    Though she returned from her court battle with Warners to better scripts starting with Marked Woman I think Jezebel is where Bette truly came into her own and ascended to the true top of the heap. The script is obviously crafted to her skill set unlike any of her previous films had been and the Oscar she earned this time (unlike the one for Dangerous) was completely deserved. As was Fay Bainter's as her Aunt Belle who had the patience of Job with the hoydenish Julie.

    I think when you mention Bette Davis to most people characters like Regina in The Little Foxes are what they most associate with her and she did make them come alive. She had said that she saw Tallulah in the play and couldn't envision it played any other way which brought her to loggerheads with Wyler ultimately souring their relationship. Tallulah also said that Bette's interpretation was close to hers, in a way that's good since it's a shame Tallulah didn't get a chance to commit her greatest triumph to film. The film while fascinating is surely a dark journey of the soul.

    I thought All This and Heaven Too was on the ponderous side, it moved at a glacial pace but a nice change for Bette. Funny the dragon in it was played by Barbara O'Neil famous for her performance as the kind and patient Ellen O'Hara putting up with Scarlett in GWTW.

    I'm inspired by your focusing on one actress for your picks and did the same with Bette's good friend Olivia de Havilland.

    Of course I was mightily tempted to chose Gone With the Wind but decided to go with three others.

    First up her titanic turn in The Heiress which won her a most richly deserved second Oscar. She's brilliant but the whole film is loaded with great work.

    Next would be My Cousin Rachel which while a decent film is missing some magic element to take it to the next level of being great. Interesting to see her playing against the young Richard Burton though.

    Last and a personal favorite is The Strawberry Blonde with Olivia, James Cagney, Jack Carson and Rita Hayworth on loan from Columbia. Ann Sheridan was originally cast in Rita's role but was feuding with Warners and went on suspension rather than do the film which opened the door for Rita. It was a big hit and helped move her career forward once she went back to her home studio. The film itself is just such a charmer. I try to watch it at least annually.

  3. Three Bette movies I still need to see!

  4. I know I've seen all of your picks, but now don't recall much about them. These are regularly played on TCM. I'm not a big Bette Davis fan, but her performances are almost always good in movies that are good.

    So many to choose from! Films based on Jane Austen books are usually pretty good. I enjoyed the many incarnations of Pride and Prejudice as well as other Austen interpretations.

    I'd name The Great Gatsby as another period piece that I liked a lot. I tend to prefer stories that take place after 1900 and "Gatsby" captures the times well. Along that line I'll also offer The Gangs of New York. I liked that one so well that I did a lot of research into that period of time.

    Take care of yourself.


  5. Period dramas? Wow, that's a topic that needs a lot of narrowing as there are so many historical (and quasi historical) movies around. I like how you only did Bette Davis. Nice narrowing.

    I've only seen the second one, although I've heard of the others. I really should do a deep dive into Bette Davis one of these days. I haven't seen many of her movies. I'm not sure why.

  6. Love period dramas. Just finished watching Sanditon and Marie Antoinette is still pending on the DVR. First thought was Pride and Prejudice, especially the one with Colin Firth.

  7. Hi Birgit - period dramas going back pre-War ... they'd be fascinating to watch ... while Bette Davis is an astounding actress - thanks for the recommendations - cheers Hilary

  8. I adore Bette Davis, but I don't think I've ever seen these film, would love to though, hope you are well Birgit, Kate x

  9. I'm not sure I saw ANY of your three choices this time. That's unusual. But then (I know this is considered by some to be blasphemous) I never really liked Bette Davis too much. And then when I saw her on 'The Tonight Show' with Johnny Carson, it cemented my feelings about her.

    The only 'Period Drama' I can think of that I like a great deal is 'AMADEUS'. Otherwise, this subgenre just isn't my mugga beer.

    ~ D-FensDogG

  10. This is more my wife's area than mine. Is anything set in a previous era a period drama? Does Shawshank Redemption count? The Untouchables?

  11. Birgit,

    Betty Davis was a good actress. I saw a few of her films but none of these. The movie I remember as a child seeing was "Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte". That was really a creepy one.

  12. I really want to see Jezebel, it sounds like a great movie.