Oscar Roles: Davis, Bette–Jezebel

Bette Davis won a second Best Actress Oscar for Jezebel, as the rich, spoiled, and willful Julie Marsden, whose entire behavior is motivated by her failure to win the love of Pres Dillard (Henry Fonda).

Wearing a red gown, Bette Davis’s Julie in Jezebel is punished for violating dress conventions. The film suggests that Julie destroyed her chances at real happiness, through marriage, by defying social norms.

Pres breaks their engagement when Julie disregards the norms and wears a red gown to New Orleans’s Olympus Ball; all the other girls wear a traditional white dress. Punished, Julie secludes herself, waiting for Pres to return, only to find out that he has married another girl. However, when Pres falls victim to a yellowfever epidemic, Julie convinces his wife that she should accompany him to a quarantined island, promising to send him back if he survives.