Now, Voyager (1942) A-
They don't make them anymore: Under the assured helm of Irving Rapper, “Now, Voyager” is a superior soap opera, an unabashedly kitschy melodrama grandly acted by Bette Davis, Claude Rains, Gladys Copper and Paul Henreid.
A tacky classic that's simple irresistible, this weepie was extremely popular when it was released in 1942, during the War, largely appealing to housewives who stayed home and went to the movies while the men were fighting.
In this variation of the Cinderella story (the ugly duckling who's transformed into a swan), Dr. Jacquith (Claude Rains), a kind, benevolent psychiatrist, helps a sexually repressed, neurotically dowdy Bostonian woman named Charlotte Vale (Bette Davis) to become an attractive, confident woman, defying the wish of her strong-willed and domineering mother (Gladys Cooper).
Scenarist Casey Robinson adapted the novel of Olive Higgins Prouty, who also wrote Stella Dallas, adapted to the big screen in several versions, the best of which is still Barbara Stanwyck's 1937 film. It's therefore no coincidence that both novels deal with female self-sacrifice, or masochism.
Several lines from “Now, Voyager” have entered into movie lore, quoted by Davis fans. In one, Paul Henreid lights two cigarettes and tenderly hands one to Davis, who then says: “Don't ask for the moon–we have the stars.”
The harshest, most enjoyable scene is arguably the one in which Charlotte dismisses her priggish suitor (John Loder) with the line: “Let's not linger over it.”
A must-see for Bette Davis fans, alongside “Jezebel,” “The Old Maid,” “Dark Victory,” The Letter,” “The Little Foxes,” and “All About Eve.”
Max Steiner's score, which fits the text and Davis' performance like a silk glove, won the Oscar Award.
Oscar Nominations: 3
Actress: Bette Davis
Supporting Actress: Gladys Cooper
Scoring (Dramatic or Comedy): Max Steiner
Oscar Awards: 1
This was Bette Davis' sixth Best Actress nomination; she was nominated for ten Oscars, winning two.
For playing the tyrannical mother, Gladys Cooper received the first out of her three Oscar nominations; all in the supporting league.
In 1942, the two female acting awards went to actresses in the schmaltzy WWII melodrama, “Mr. Miniver”: Greer Garson won Best Actress and Teresa Wright Supporting Actress.
Charlotte Vale (Bette Davis)
Mrs. Henry Windle Vale (Gladys Cooper)
Dr. Jacquith (Claude Rains)
Jerry D. Durrance (Paul Henreid)
With: Bonita Granville, Lee Patrick, Ilka Chase, Charles Drake, Franklin Pangborn
James Rennie, and Janice Wilson.
Produced by Hal B. Wallis
Directed by Irving Rapper
Screenplay: Casey Robinson, based on the novel by Olive Higgins Prouty
Camera: Sol Polito
Editor: Warren Low
Music: Max Steiner
Art direction: Robert Haas
Running time: 117 Minutes
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