Synopsis by Hal Erickson
In 1938, Jezebel was widely regarded as Warner Bros.' "compensation" to Bette Davis for her losing the opportunity to play Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind. Resemblances between the two properties are inescapable: Jezebel heroine Julie Marsden (Davis) is a headstrong Southern belle not unlike Scarlett (Julie lives in New Orleans rather than Georgia); she loves fiancé Preston Dillard (played by Henry Fonda) but loses him when she makes a public spectacle of herself (to provoke envy in him) by wearing an inappropriate red dress at a ball, just as Scarlett O'Hara brazenly danced with Rhett Butler while still garbed in widow's weeds. There are several other similarities between the works, but it is important to note that Jezebel is set in the 1850s, several years before Gone With the Wind's Civil War milieu; and we must observe that, unlike Scarlett O'Hara, Julie Marsden is humbled by her experiences and ends up giving of her time, energy, and health during a deadly yellow jack outbreak. Bette Davis won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Julie; an additional Oscar went to Fay Bainter for her portrayal of the remonstrative Aunt Belle (she's the one who labels Julie a "jezebel" at a crucial plot point). The offscreen intrigues of Jezebel, including Bette Davis' romantic attachment to director William Wyler and co-star George Brent, have been fully documented elsewhere. Jezebel was based on an old and oft-produced play by Owen Davis Sr.
woman, coming-of-age, disease, doctor/nurse, engagement, love, nurturing, revenge, romance, selfishness, south, Southern-belle
High Artistic Quality, High Production Values