Sight and Sound - 02/01/2006
"[The film] boasts a fascinating and bravely unsympathetic turn from Davis as the flirty New York belle with a heart of stone."
Description by OLDIES.com:
Whose face - ravaged, grotesque - is in the mirror? Surely it's not that of Fanny Skeffington, the prettiest woman in New York. Fanny always used her beauty to manipulate her way through life. She's encouraged dozens of suitors, even after her marriage. But now diphtheria has robbed her of her only attribute. And without her looks, she's lost.
Bette Davis earned her eighth Best Actress Oscar nomination portraying Fanny. Backed by Claude Rains as her devoted husband, glorious costumes and a lush Franz Waxman score, Davis takes what might in lesser hands be just a woman's picture and turns it into art. Watch her ruined face glow with an inner light when she finds hope in the words: "A woman is beautiful when she's loved. And only then." Magic.
The vain and beautiful Fanny marries for money, plays around behind her husband's back and then, finally, divorces him. It isn't until near the end of her lonely life that she discovers love - real love - for the first time. Academy Award Nominations: 2, Best Actress-Bette Davis, Best Supporting Actor--Claude Rains.
Bette Davis portrays a conceited and pompous upper-class woman, from her teen years to middle-age. As this society matron grows older and faces illness, her looks gravely deteriorate, leaving her to wonder if the only man she ever truly loved -- her first husband -- will cherish her once again.