Synopsis by Hal Erickson
From a novel of the same name by "Elizabeth", the film begins in 1914, with Bette Davis cast as vain, flighty society woman Fanny Trellis. Informed by Jewish-American financier Job Skeffington (Claude Rains) that her brother Trippy (Richard Waring) has stolen money to pay his gambling debts, Fanny marries Job, securing his promise that he won't prosecute her thieving sibling. Angered by Fanny's agreeing to this loveless union, Trippy runs off to join the army, and is killed during World War I. Fanny holds Skeffington responsible for her brother's death, and demands a divorce with a generous cash settlement. Despite Job's oft-repeated belief that "a woman is only beautiful when she is loved," Fanny uses her coquettish beauty to flit indiscriminately from man to man. While on a sailing trip with her latest beau, Fanny comes down with diphtheria. The disease destroys her facial beauty, and before long the shallow Fanny is left completely alone. Her self-centered efforts to reunite all of her old boyfriends for a party is a failure due to her pathetic middle-aged efforts to be kittenish, and the grotesqueness of the mounds of facial makeup she apples. Meanwhile, Skeffington, who has resettled in Europe with his daughter, is captured by the Nazis and placed in a concentration camp. He manages to escape, returning to the US totally blind and utterly penniless. A chastened Fanny comes back to her husband, promising to care for him for the rest of his life. Most TV prints of Mr. Skeffington run 127 minutes; the videocassette and cable TV versions have been restored to the original length.
beauty [physical], disease, divorce, ego, loot, love, marriage-of-convenience, romance, scheme, second-chance, socialite, stockbroker