The love story of Charlotte Vale, a middle-aged spinster who suffers a nervous breakdown because of her domineering mother and is finally freed after a brief love affair with Jerry, a man she meets while on a cruise after spending time in a sanitarium. They never marry, but through a miracle of chance Vale ends up raising his daughter for some time.
Bette Davis ... Charlotte Vale
Paul Henreid ... Jerry Durrance
Claude Rains ... Dr. Jaquith
Gladys Cooper ... Mrs. Henry Windle Vale
Bonita Granville ... June Vale
John Loder ... Elliot Livingston
Ilka Chase ... Lisa Vale
Lee Patrick ... \'Deb\' McIntyre
Franklin Pangborn ... Mr. Thompson
Katharine Alexander ... Miss Trask (as Katherine Alexander)
James Rennie ... Frank McIntyre
Mary Wickes ... Nurse Dora Pickford
At the height of WWII, Hollywood produced a lot of excellent melodramas. These were the vehicles the studios created for its stars of that era. It was either a Joan Crawford picture, or a Barbara Stanwyck, or a Bette Davis one, since their presence, bigger than life, was the only reason to bring these stories to the big screen.
Take this one, for instance, under the direction of Irving Rapper. It had all the right elements, yet it was chaste enough to pass the censor. Undoubtedly, this movie owes a lot to the fantastic score by the talented Max Steiner who was a genius. Mr. Steiner\'s music plays the haunting melodies with such flair, we feel we are listening to a great symphonic work.
The story, by today\'s standards wouldn\'t raise an eyebrow. At the time it came out, it was a different thing. After all, Jerry was a married man with a daughter and a situation that had no easy solution then. That makes Charlotte Vale suffer after she found her soul mate aboard the ship that served to free herself from a despotic mother.
Bette Davis plays Charlotte to perfection. Her scenes with Paul Hendried lighting the two cigarettes is something to cherish by film fans. The chemistry that Bette Davis shared with her leading men was no small accomplishment. She was an actress that knew how to pull the heart strings of the general public. She had such a charisma and power to lose herself in all those strong women she played through the years. The transformation of the plain Charlotte to the smart woman, who embarks on a tour to begin a new life, is something out of a fairy tale, but Ms. Davis pulls it with great panache.
The rest of the cast was excellent. Claude Rains, Gladys Cooper, Bonita Granville, Ilka Chase! They only come once in a lifetime. No one in present day Hollywood comes near to that. It was perfection.
After seeing this great film, I realized that not every mother wants the best for her children.
Gladys Cooper gave a brilliant performance as the outrageously domineering mother. Her best supporting actress nomination was well deserved. It\'s a pity she lost the coveted award to Teresa Wright, the tragic daughter-in-law in \"Mrs. Miniver.\" Obviously, Oscar voters could not bring themselves to vote for such a wicked mother that Cooper portrayed. (The following year Cooper gave another brilliant performance as the wretched nun in \"Song of Bernadette.\" She lost the Oscar because who would vote for a vicious nun?)
No words are adequate to describe the outstanding Bette Davis performance in this film. Sorry, Greer Garson, Bette deserved this Oscar as she did so many. Her change from a hopelessly-drawn spinster to a ravishing beauty with all its torment can never be forgotten.
Thank you Claude Rains for your excellent portrayal of the psychiatrist.
\"Now, Voyager\" is arguably the best of all motion pictures by Bette Davis. As Charlotte Vale, a rich Bostonian smothered by a mother who had her late in life, Davis plays a frumpy, low-esteemed, near recluse of a woman. That is, until her cousin intervenes by bringing a psychiatrist into Miss Vale\'s life.
Miss Vale\'s cousin and shrink conspire to bring her out of the steel shell her domineering mother has encased her within. Their idea is to send her on a cruise with the doctor\'s advice to learn everything, do everything, engage everyone. The results are a remarkable transformation of a woman who believed she was an \'ugly duckling\' into Miss Bette Davis as a sizzling hot beauty like she never was before or after in any other film.
How Miss Davis didn\'t view herself as or use her beauty to create her success as an actress is what \"Now, Voyager,\" proves is most remarkable about her 66 year long acting career. If she had wanted to be a \"bombshell,\" she could have, two snaps up. Davis didn\'t want to be a \"movie star,\" or \"glamor girl.\" She wanted to be a great actor and achieved her life\'s goal. Not only did she make her career using acting skill and shrewd business finesse, Bette Davis also made quite a few other people\'s acting careers work well for them by taking a back seat in films with weak scripts. Thus, as co-actors they could collaborate to make out of an average screenplay a screen hit and a new acting star. Davis was so unselfish an actor that she was in the acting business to benefit the art. That\'s why she\'s my favorite actor of all time: she was so self-assured as an actor in a man\'s world (in the 20th century), that her ego didn\'t get in the way of making truly great movies with co-actors with whom she worked with as a team player. \"Now, Voyage,\" is one such film. Clearly, she steals the show, but she takes Paul Heinrick right next to her, conjoined at the hip. What a delight it must have been to work with a true artist who was a great expert at her craft.
Bogie & Bergman in \"Casablanca,\" don\'t have one thing over Davis & Heinrick in \"Now, Voyager,\" when it comes to the most intense, well acted, extremely well scripted romantic drama that has it all. Davis is glamorous beyond compare and Heinrick is a smooth, sensuous, suitor.
This is my favorite of all of her motion pictures (at least I believe I have seen them all). How anyone could say that Bette Davis wasn\'t a raving beauty after they saw her in this film is beyond me. Not only does \"Jerry\" fall madly in love with \"Charlotte,\" so does the audience.
There\'s much more to this great story, but I\'m not telling!
* Edmund Goulding was first attached to the project as director. He wanted Irene Dunne to play Charlotte Vale. When Goulding fell ill, however, the project passed to Michael Curtiz, who had either Norma Shearer or Ginger Rogers in mind for the lead. In the meantime, Bette Davis was lobbying hard for the part. She was able to convince producer Hal B. Wallis that she would make a perfect Charlotte Vale, but she refused to work with Curtiz. Consequently Irving Rapper landed the director\'s job.
* The biggest box office hit of Bette Davis\'s career.
* The screenplay is a fairly faithful adaptation of the novel, except that in the book Charlotte takes a Mediterranean cruise, not a South American one.
* Paul Henreid\'s act of lighting two cigarettes at once caught the public\'s imagination and he couldn\'t go anywhere without being accosted by women begging him to light cigarettes for them.
* \"Now Voyager\" was actually the third book in a four-part saga of the Vales, a high-class Boston family, written by Olive Higgins Prouty over a 12-year period from 1936 to 1947. When Warner Brothers bought the film rights to the novel, Prouty wrote a lengthy letter to her literary agent, setting out how she felt the production should be mounted. She felt strongly that the best way to dramatize the flashbacks would be to feature short silent segments woven into the main sound narrative. Her letter made its way to producer Hal B. Wallis at Warners, who subsequently ignored her suggestions.
* In 1942, Hal B. Wallis had just signed a new contract with Warner Brothers, which stipulated that he make four films a year for the next four years. This film was one from his 1942 slate. Wallis actually made six films in that year, the others being Casablanca (1942), Desperate Journey (1942), Air Force (1943), Princess O\'Rourke (1943) and Watch on the Rhine (1943).
* Principal shooting began on April 7 1942 and ended on June 23 with some retakes shot in early July. The completed film was released at the end of October 1942 to mixed critical notices and a rapturous public reception.
* Claude Rains initially turned down the Jaquith role, finding it too insubstantial. The part was built up for him and he was paid $5000 a week for six weeks\' work.
* The Walt Whitman poem that Bette Davis reads (just before leaving Cascades) is \"The Untold Want\" from Songs of Parting (just 2 lines): \"The untold want, by life and land ne\'er granted,/ Now, Voyager, sail thou forth, to seek and find.\"
* Bette Davis complained about Max Steiner\'s Academy Award-winning musical score, saying that it was too intrusive on her performance.
* The film is remembered for the scene in which Paul Henreid places two cigarettes in his mouth, lights them, and then passes one to Bette Davis, but it wasn\'t an original idea - a similar exchange occurred ten years earlier between Davis and George Brent in The Rich Are Always with Us (1932).
* Filming went a few weeks over schedule, which in turn caused some conflicts with Casablanca (1942), which also starred Claude Rains and Paul Henreid. Rains finished work on this movie June 3rd in 1942 and did his first scene on Casablanca (1942) at 10:30 the next morning.