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  • Look. I *love* "Now Voyager." I don't love it as a guilty pleasure, or as camp, or as an example of film-making from the Golden Age of Hollywood. I don't love it as a soap opera or as example of the long lost genre, the theatrical-release, big budget, "woman's picture." I love "Now Voyager" as a movie. "Now Voyager"'s quality could stand comparison with any great film out there.

    Plot: Charlotte Vale (Bette Davis), the psychologically abused child of a sadistic iceberg of a wealthy, Boston Brahmin mother (Gladys Cooper), thanks to the intervention of a compassionate sister-in-law (Ilka Chase) is packed off to a posh asylum, where Dr. Jaquith (Claude Rains) restores her to well being.

    Charlotte loses weight, loses her glasses, and receives tutoring in how to dress and carry herself. Superficially quite the glamor puss, she goes on a cruise and charms Jerry Durrance (Paul Henreid) an unhappily married architect.

    Circumstance intervenes and Jerry and Charlotte enjoy a brief affair. As time goes on, they make some heart-wrenching decisions about how to handle their adulterous love; along the way, Charlotte forms an important bond with Tina, Jerry's daughter, whose mother does not love her.

    The screen is full of women's bodies, women's voices, women's choices, and women's lives. There are old women, middle aged women, and young women. There are good and bad women in every class. For example, while Tina is the sweet but unattractive and lost young woman, Bonita Granville, as June Vale, is a pretty, blonde, young b----. The scenes in which June, without censure from any quarter, uses her youth and prettiness to torment her pathetic spinster aunt are terrific, honest, and cruel.

    The plot is built around the issues of which women's lives are built: their relationships with their mothers, or mother figures, both good and evil; how the world treats women based on how women look; women's competitions with, and support of, other women; what women do to survive economically and emotionally.

    The scenes between Charlotte and Tina are stunning in their sensuality. Tina, the daughter-surrogate, and Charlotte, the mother-figure, cling to each other in bed at night, and while sleeping under the stars on a camping trip; Tina sobs tears that wet her face; Charlotte strokes Tina's hair, and Tina clings to Charlotte's bosom.

    The simple message here is how incredibly important parenting is in the lives of both children and mothers, and how a person who has suffered -- Charlotte -- can often be a better person than those who have had it easier -- Mrs. Vale and June, and how having been handed a life that denies you love doesn't make it impossible for you to go out and find love on your own, to create your own family.

    Mrs. Vale is one of the most naked depictions of a child abusing mother ever committed to the screen. No, there are no graphic scenes of abuse, but the film never lets you believe that this woman is anything but a nightmare who damaged her child for life while the world let her get away with it because of her money.

    Again, the abuse is not graphic, but it is made certain. In one brilliant scene, Charlotte has returned to her mother's house after being out in the world and, for the first time in her life, experiencing some affection, joy, and confidence.

    Charlotte speaks in her new voice, a voice of self possession. But she is trying to be nice to her mother, and her voice quavers a bit, without losing its ground.

    Charlotte is out of camera range; we hear her, but do not see her. Her mother's back is to the camera. She is motionless -- except for her bejeweled, claw-like hand, which taps rhythmically against a carved bed post. One thinks of a cat waiting to pounce. One realizes that all that is going through Mrs. Vale's head is, "How do I destroy her this time?" That motion alone renders the scene both chilling and telling.

    Charlotte's love affair with Jerry Durrance is equally complex. This is no "soap opera" as some reviews here dismiss it as. Viewers are so caught up with Jerry's (Henreid's) trick of lighting two cigarettes at once that they miss the depth, power, and complexity of this relationship.

    "Now Voyager" gives us a terribly convincing portrait of two people who really love each other, and whose love is apparently doomed. Jerry is a superficially charming, nice guy whose unhappy marriage has given him reason to see beneath the surfaces of life; he's no rocket scientist, though, so he's not as smart as he could be. He is attracted to a superficially glamorous woman whose secret past as an ugly duckling and abused child gives her a hidden side. For both, society demands that they present a pleasant facade, but pain has caused them to develop in ways that many people never do. Their love is real.

    Jerry is deep enough to be attracted, but not deep enough to realize, as soon as he might, how much his acting on his attraction could potentially devastate Charlotte, a woman whose hold on her life is tenuous, at best.

    Whether their love can ever be realized, or whether it would continue to grow outside of the confines of an adulterous affair begun on a cruise ship and consummated after the most outlandish interventions of fate on a mountain road, is a question viewers can still debate to this day. What is clear is that this love is real, and its stakes are terribly high. Charlotte's whole life hangs in the balance here, no less so than a Scorcese hero's life hangs in the balance given how he handles his weapon.

    Claude Rains is solid as Charlotte's best hope at the beginning, and, perhaps, also at the end of the movie..
  • 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.
  • I first saw this wonderful film in the early 1960's on television - made in 1941 is seemed old fashioned, slightly stilted and truly from another time.

    Later on in the seventies and eighties I'd watch the occasional late nite re-run on TV and it just seemed camp.

    In the nineties I bought the video - something to keep. A little bit of cinema history.

    Last week I bought "Now Voyager" on DVD and was completely blown away!

    Perhaps it's because I know the story so well, but I was able to appreciate the movie on several different levels such as cinematography, direction and editing.

    Bette Davis was always the prime reason for watching but I never realized what a fine naturalistic actor Claude Raines was. His scenes with Bette Davis exude intelligence and warmth.

    I stopped to consider what a 2004 remake might look like - who could play the leads? Who would direct? What would the score be like?

    With no disrespect to anyone in the movie industry, I don't think a remake would ever be possible.

    The actors and technicians on this movie were truly masters of their craft.

    I defy anyone who watches the first ten minutes not to be hooked until the closing credits.
  • From frumpy momma's unwanted adult child to liberated raving beauty, Davis is in her element in every scene. With Paul Henreid & Claude Rains, Gladys Cooper & a spot-on supporting cast, "Voyager..." is, hands down, best love story I believe I've ever seen.

    Of course, taste in romances has everything to do with what a viewer finds great. I don't like phony, fantasy, goofy romantic shows at all. "Voyager..." has a gritty plot that reveals the kind of love between unrequited lovers that's worth sacrificing oneself for.

    Davis' wardrobe is as fabulous in this movie as it is in "Deception," (also co-starring Claude Rains & Paul Henreid). Perhaps having both of them in both shows is what produced the mastery of all the elements in both movies. Though "Deception" is also a love story, Claude Rains coming seriously close to stealing the show from Davis.

    In "Voyager..." the characters are much more egalitarian. The balance of love & despise is what makes the movies so intriguing. Davis should have taken an Oscar home for her leading role.
  • "Now, Voyager" is arguably one of 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, Dr. Jacquith (Claude Rains) into Miss Vale's life.

    Miss Vale's cousin and shrink conspire to bring her out of the steel shell her domineering mother (Gladys Cooper) 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 a beauty 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 her role having a weaker script. 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 Heinried (love interest, Jerry) 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 & Heinreid 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 Heinreid is a smooth, sensuous, suitor.

    This is my favorite of all of her motion pictures (at least I believe I own and 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 audience after audience, generation after generation.

    There's much more to this great story, but I'm not telling! Buy the DVD.
  • In Boston, the fat spinster Charlotte Vale (Bette Davis) is a repressed woman without self-esteem and completely dominated by her wealthy mother Mrs. Henry Vale (Gladys Cooper). When her sister-in-law Lisa Vale (Ilka Chase) brings the renowned psychiatrist Dr. Jaquith (Claude Rains), who is her friend, to visit Charlotte, he invites her to spend sometime in his sanatorium.

    Soon Charlotte transforms in a sophisticated and confident woman and travels in a cruise to South America. She meets the architect Jerry Durrance (Paul Henreid), who is married, and they have a love affair in Rio de Janeiro. Six months later, she returns home and confronts his mother with her independence and own free will. One day, Charlotte has an argument with her mother and she dies of a heart attack. Charlotte becomes the heir of the Vale's fortune but she feels guilty for the death of her mother.

    She decides to return to Dr. Jaquith's sanatorium where she befriends Tina (Janis Wilson), who is the twelve-year-old daughter of Jerry rejected by her mother. She brings the girl to her house in Boston and one day, Jerry visits Tina and Charlotte with Dr. Jaquith.

    "Now, Voyager" is a melodrama with the story of a repressed spinster that become self-confident after a medical treatment and finds love with a married man in a travel to South America. The plot is a soap-opera, supported by magnificent performances, great quotes and wonderful music score. The "Brazilian" taxi driver speaking "Portuguese" is a funny Hollywood stereotype. My vote is seven.

    Title (Brazil): Not Available
  • In the 1942 screen adaptation of the 1941 bestseller by Olive Higgins-Prouty, Bette Davis and Paul Henreid provide excellent, subtle performances as Charlotte Vale (self-described Spinster Aunt) and J.D. (Jerry) Durrance, the married man she meets, befriends, and with whom she falls in love on a cruise following a transformative stay at the Vermont Sanatorium operated by Dr. Jaquith (Claude Rains). Reviewers often speak of the themes of self-sacrifice and relate it to the war, which would have been an attractive reason to make the film, but the reality was that the novel was a popular best-seller, Higgins-Prouty's earlier novel, Stella Dallas, was also a popular film (and later a radio series), and the studio stood to do well financially if the movie turned out well. Hal Wallis' deft hand as producer is seen here, especially in his choice of Orry Kelly as costume designer for Bette Davis. He and the studio worked within the limits of censors' requirements, which indicated that there could be no intimation that the two main characters had sex (which was implicit in the novel but never explicitly stated, where the behavior between the two in the love scenes were generally glossed over most of the time), and that they could not share the same blanket in the scene where they are in a hut on a Brazilian mountain, stranded. They also had to change locales for the story, because the novel had the sea voyage set in and around Italy, Gibralter, etc. In spite of any restrictions placed on the filmmakers and actors, the film followed the novel very closely, especially with respect to dialogue. The big point of contention has always been: who invented the two-cigarette lighting gesture that Paul Henreid became famous for later? According to some, George Brent and Bette Davis did something similar earlier in another film, and according to Paul Henreid and Bette Davis, there was a cigarette exchange ritual in the script which was sort of awkward, so they improvised based on Paul Henreid's experience with his wife on car trips. The latter seems likely, as there was a cigarette-exchange ritual in the novel (Jerry would give Charlotte a cigarette, lighting hers and then his own on one match, and then they would exchange cigarettes with each other so that Charlotte smoked the one that had been in Jerry's mouth and vice versa), which would have been slightly awkward in practice.

    All in all, this is a truly excellent film with great production values, true to the novel on which it was based, and a wonderful ensemble cast.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    what shall i say, it's another legendary performance by the legend Bette Davis. To begin with The first time i heard about miss Davis was in this film, and that was at 2006, and it took my all this years to watch it finally, and i must tell you it was worth it. before i see this Pic i always felt that Bette Davis can only play the hard roles ( even with Dark victory 1939 she was a strong character) but after i saw this one it convinced me that she can play any role u may thinking of including the weak heroine There were moments that made me cry when she was at the train station and the final scene when she refused to kiss her lover even she loved him very much even more than herself. I should also give a special thanks to Miss. Gladys Cooper who played Davis mother, she was really a great at her part ( a very strong character) and with all her scenes she never smiled which is a very important thing to give for the character. Finally i recommend this movie for anyone who wants to see the legend Bette Davis at her peak of both here acting skills and her beauty.
  • "Now, Voyager, sail thou forth, to seek and find." By Walt Whitman:Leaves Of Grass/The Untold Want Are you tired of the same old Hollywood trash movies? Want to see a troupe of actors that can actually perform? Then do not miss this movie: "Now Voyager-1942 Black and White". It stars Betty Davis and all I can say is that once you see a real actress perform you will never be satisfied by the modern day actress. There is just no comparison. All the glitter, all the pomp, all the dresses, all the makeup, all the special effects, just don't compare.

    And yet the story behind the movie is a simple view into the complex neurotic life of a young woman controlled by a matriarch who is self centered, demanding and totally unrelenting in her personal quest to demean her unwanted daughter. Betty Davis is the daughter that finds her own path and breaks free of the chains of guilt provided by her mother. Eventually she finds love (Paul Henreid) on a cruise ship.
  • jeromec-213 November 2006
    Warning: Spoilers
    This wonderful movie transcends its intended audience. Most people seeing this say it is a woman's movie.

    The lead is female. The problems are those associated with women: marriage, relationships, loneliness, and love. Those who don't like the movie, say it leaves out half the human race.

    Nonsense.

    The film introduces us to a maiden aunt who is overweight, plain and very self conscious with glasses that, in her opinion, does nothing for her. It is the custom of her family to either bully her (her mother and her niece), or to show a silent sort of pity. Only June is determined to do something: she introduces Charlotte to Dr. Jaquith (Claude Rains) who immediately understands her condition. To her credit, so does Charlotte. She knows she needs help, or at least a change.

    With his excellent guidance, she is transformed into a beautiful engaging woman. She decides to go on a ship's cruise to fulfill an unspoken need. She meets Jerry (Paul Hanreid), with whom she immediately falls in love. He returns it. But (as we learn later), he is married, but is very unhappy. His wife is not a partner: she's an emotional leach. He is a noble man and will not divorce her to marry Charlotte.

    Charlotte respects his nobility: she will not be a home wrecker. They part. Charlotte decides to try developing a relationship based on comfort. Eventually she realizes it is not for her, that she cannot settle for a little when she has had a love like the one she's had with Jerry.

    She gets into an argument with her mother and her mother cannot stand the strain of the argument and has a fatal heart attack. She cannot stand her guilt and goes back for help from Dr. Jaquith. There she meets Jerry's daughter Tina. She immediately takes a liking to the girl. They become like mother and daughter, both fulfilling the needs of the other.

    Jerry is eternally grateful and decides Tina is in the right place.

    That essentially is the plot. But the plot description really pales the dialog, the delivery, the music, the direction, and the sincerity of the production. With a 50% divorce rate, we cannot understand much of what happens in the film. We would likely think the nobility is another word for stupidity. We would think her timidity laughable: we are encouraged to make our way in the world.

    And yet don't we all wish we could love someone with the unwavering feminine moral standard of Charlotte? She had the power to corrupt Jerry, but did not. Don't we all wish we knew someone like Jerry who had plenty of opportunity to stray, but did not?

    How we watch one of those films determines what our response is going to be. If we are cynical, we will probably laugh. If we are emotional, we likely will get teary eyed. If we know what we are watching we will enjoy and be enriched by a film that transcends all its surface "defects."

    10 out of 10
  • I think the "ugly duckling" storyline is so powerful because most of us have lived through it in one way or another; a first dance, a first kiss, a stumbling call on the phone. For most it happens in our teens; for Charlotte is just happened a little later. But because we have lived it, we can easily connect with what she is feeling...

    The early scenes of Davis and Henreid together on the ship, as she takes her first tentative steps toward womanhood are remarkable and lovely and touching -- all without being smarmy or overly sentimental. That's a nice trick, and the Director pulled it off beautifully. As did the writers, who managed to keep things moving and keep a sense of humor throughout the dialog.

    And while the cigarette shot is famous, I'll vote for the "transformation" shot of Bette when we see her for the first time aboard ship; that fluid tilt up from toe to top, with her "picture hat" tipped down over one eye.

    Ron
  • Stefchild8 April 2006
    I am such a fan of Bette Davis, there is hardly a movie that she has made that I do not like. But this movie is great. I love her transformation from Aunt Charlotte to the worldly, travel worn, experienced woman of the world. I love the last line," Jerry, let's not ask for the moon, we have the stars". She should have won the Oscar for that performance, but Greer Garson won instead. This is definitely one that I will buy and add to my collection. I also liked her reaction to her brothers and sisters-in-laws, on her first night home after her return from her voyage abroad. This is her best performance, I was told that she had to fight for this role. The studio actually offered the role to others and did not consider her. I am glad that she got this role, can you imagine Ginger Rogers,Irene Dunne or even Norma Shrearer as Charlotte Vail? Nor can I. Thanks to the wisdom, of dumb luck of Warner Brothers Studios, this is and always will be a classic.
  • lnj_lova27 July 2005
    To begin this film contains a basic storyline which is taken and beautifully crafted, in to my favourite film. Now voyager has Bette Davis as a convincing lead role, to add to this she wears very little make up for the first few scenes and transforms. This film entails a classic love story, which doesn't need to include sex or a steamy affair. But it portrays classic romance when sexual etiquette was still alive. Also it shows a touching relationship between Bette and her child co star, she helps the girl overcome a deep family depression. However the classic moment in the film is when her lover lights two cigarettes and passes one to Bette. Lovely! I would recommend this film to anyone especially any Bette Davis fans, who might i add have probably already seen it. Anywho, go and see the film you won't regret and who knows it might become your favourite movie too!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    How many people can relate to Charlotte Vale? Many, for I'd assume it'd be hard-pressed for anyone not to at one point in their life gone through a period of dejection, rejection, and evolve until finally the inner self comes out shining.

    And what a character evolution this is. Charlotte Vale, played expertly and with fantastic repression hiding an enormous passion and will to live by the great Bette Davis as a woman who's life has been all but destroyed by her domineering, selfish mother (Gladys Cooper) until she meets kind Dr. Jasquith, a psychiatrist (Claude Rains) who makes her take the first steps to recovery. A physical transformation ensues from dowdy to chic, and on a cruise -- temporarily posing as Ms. Beauchamp -- she meets Jerry Durrance (elegant, smoldering Paul Henreid with sad eyes that virtually talk) with whom she begins a tentative acquaintance with that turns to love. Once home and deciding on an independent life away from her mother she takes on a younger version of herself, Tina, played poignantly by Janis Wilson, whom Charlotte learns is none other than Jerry's daughter. Nevertheless, Charlotte tutors Tina back to mental health, and even while she rejects the marriage of a certain convenience to Elliot Livingston (John Loder) since she cannot forget Jerry, she decides to remain independent despite of the hinted possibility of not fulfilling her affair with him at the end. The last scene, with Henreid and Davis gazing into each other's eyes as he lights up a cigarette for the both of them, and Davis' last line, "Don't let's ask for the moon -- we have the stars," is cinematic romance at its finest.

    Irving Rapper, one of Hollywood's gay directors, could not have made a gayer film than this and my view is not controversial: Hollywood did not allow overt films about homosexuality back then, unless the man was a fop and a much secondary character meant to be the butt of fag jokes. Writers and directors alike decided to somehow incorporate a gay element without making it clear off the bat and devised stories that were strongly symbolic in nature. And while Olivia Higgins Prouty's novel was not intended to be interpreted as such, her quoting of Walt Whitman's "Now voyager, sail forth to seek and find" is interesting when Whitman himself was homosexual. Plus, the added element of Charlotte Vale's damaged persona by her mother who forced her into total repression -- something very close to many gay men and women -- and her ultimate transformation into a complete person due to her inner strength has also been a recurring gay theme.

    But despite this view, the fact remains that NOW VOYAGER is a consummate woman's picture, a superior weepie that hasn't aged due to its themes of mental cruelty within family members and one person's quiet courage to take on the world and resume her own sense of identity despite years of baggage. Another version of parental abuse would re-surface as the Mexican drama LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE but aside from the mother-daughter relationship, the stories are completely different even in tone and cultural values.

    Bette Davis received another Oscar nod for her role here as did Gladys Cooper, but the entire cast lends good support, from Ilka Chase and Bonita Granville as Charlotte's cousins down to Mary Wickes in a small yet funny role as a nurse tending to a bed-ridden Cooper and being a small agent in allowing Davis' Vale to go on with her life.
  • This was surprisingly good. I say "surprising" because I am not a man who likes soap operas and that's what I expected here from everything I had read about this film. The only reason I obtained it was that it was part of a 3-pack Bette Davis collection and I wanted a DVD of "The Letter."

    Well, this turned out to be a very interesting and gratifying story. No, I still didn't like the corny - and adulterous (which Hollywood loves to glamorize) - love affair between Davis and married man Paul Henreid. However, I did enjoy the ugly duckling-turned-beauty story that featured Davis tolerating her nasty mother and then using her experiences to help another young lady who was suffering from a similar inferiority complex.

    Gladys Cooper was outstanding as the irritating, brutal mother. Janis Wilson was the young girl helped in the end by Davis. Wilson overacts something fierce but the message is so nice and the sentimentality so caring that you put up with the kid's performance.

    Claude Raines also was likable as the psychologist. He had a number of good lines in this film. The movie was nicely filmed and looks particularly good on the DVD transfer with attractive grays completing the black-and-white.
  • Bette Davis plays Charlotte Vale, an unmarried and very unhappy plain-Jane who lives with, and is under the emotional control of, her wealthy, domineering, matriarchal mother (Gladys Cooper). Help for Charlotte arrives in the person of Dr. Jaquith (Claude Rains), who suggests a different living environment, and eventually a new direction in life. Charlotte thus sets out on a voyage of discovery, or quest, to find herself and her potential for happiness and love.

    The film starts off Gothic, but gradually translates to a love story with lots of twists and turns. The underlying premise is sound, but the plot is overwrought, drawn out, and talky. Small sections of the film's middle section could have been expunged, to tighten the plot. And the dialogue could have been reduced in places, which would have rendered a film of even greater impact. Nevertheless, the film still tells a great story.

    The B&W cinematography ranges from good to excellent. In one scene, special effects create an image wherein Charlotte's eyes overlap her mother's face. It is a visually stunning image, and it wonderfully captures the film's timeless theme, the painful process whereby a grown child must confront an overbearing parent, if that child is to grow and gain adult independence.

    The film's costumes are interesting. And Max Steiner's original score adds emotional texture to the story. But it is the acting that really makes this film a classic. Except for her work in "All About Eve", Bette Davis gives as good a performance here as in any film of hers that I have seen. Claude Rains and Paul Henreid are good in support roles. And the never smiling Gladys Cooper is stunningly effective as the matron saint of outdated Victorian Puritanism.

    Despite its cryptic title, taken from a poem by Walt Whitman, this film presents viewers with a story that most people can identify with, in one way or another. "Now, Voyager" transcends its hyperbolic working script, and compels attention through its cinematography, its music, and especially the acting of Gladys Cooper and Bette Davis.
  • Now Voyager is always cited as one of the best romantic dramas ever done on the screen. That it is, but I think the reason for its continuing popularity and that it's almost always listed in Bette Davis's top five by any of her fans is that it shows her growth as a human being over the course of the film.

    It's not that they ugly Davis up in makeup when we first meet her as spinster Charlotte Vale. Some costuming and maybe some padding, but the rest is her ability as a performer. She was a daughter born late in life to mother Gladys Cooper who hadn't expected, hadn't wanted her. My guess is that she felt after having three sons, Cooper expected to be a full time society grand dame and the new baby cramped her style. In any event Davis grows up totally under Cooper's thumb as an unloved spinster.

    A wise and perceptive sister-in-law in the person of Ilka Chase has her meet psychiatrist Claude Rains who sees a breakdown coming. She spends some time in his sanitarium and under his tutelage, Davis emerges from her shell. She even takes an ocean cruise where the new and attractive Davis meets the unhappily married Paul Henreid and they have an affair.

    It's unfortunate that war time restrictions being what they were that the only recreation of Brazil, specifically Rio De Janeiro is on the Warner Brothers back lot. Still with newsreel establishing shots, director Irving Rapper does bring it off.

    When she returns home Davis is in a whole new dimension of a relationship with Cooper and the rest of her family and friends. She even meets Henreid's daughter whose own mother has turned her into a creature like Davis used to be.

    My favorite part of Now Voyager has always been Bette's scenes with young Janis Wilson. They are beautifully played the new swan trying to bring another ugly duckling to crack the shell. I think more than the romance they were responsible for getting Bette an Oscar nomination.

    Gladys Cooper got one also in the Supporting Actress category. Unfortunately both Davis and Cooper ran into actresses from Mrs. Miniver that year who won in the persons of Greer Garson and Teresa Wright. However Max Steiner's musical score, one of his best, took home Now Voyager's only Oscar.

    Other people to note in the cast are John Loder as a man entranced by Bette's blossoming who offers to marry her and Mary Wickes who plays a most practical nurse for Gladys Cooper. After dealing with Monty Woolley in The Man Who Came To Dinner, I think Wickes was ready for anything.

    I also think that Now Voyager's message of how love can come to anyone has made this film a timeless classic. In fact that same moon and stars are still there that Davis and Henreid talked about. And the film will be as popular as long as they are there.
  • One of the all time great classics. I would place the quality of this movie on the same level as Casablanca and gone with the wind. I loved Greer Garson in Ms. Miniver, But Bette Davis probably should have garnered the academy award for best actress. She was convincing and sympathetic in her role. You vicariously felt the characters pain.

    I would recommend this movie to anyone who struggles with low self-esteem and self-doubt. No matter what trauma or bad experience you have had, you can still be the person you want to be when you receive Love and friendship. Just as Charlotte Vale found a sense of belonging in helping Jerry's daughter, we all can find permanence when we show compassion to distressed people.

    I am finding out more of the prodigious talents that Max Steiner possessed. The musical score in this movie was outstanding. To those who dismiss black and white movies as obsolete, you definitely need to see Now Voyager to find out why the Golden age of Hollywood is far superior to movie-making today.
  • This film is the classic "wish fulfillment" film. I believe everyone goes through problems like Charlotte Vale does at some point in their lives. To me it is the most unusual romantic film Warner Brothers ever made. Though I am a man, this film spoke to me in ways few others have ever done. I believe Dr. Jacquith (Claude Rains) describes it best when he talks about how he views psychiatry. I am sorry, I am paraphrasing. "People walk along the road. They come to a fork, they become confused. I put up a sign, no, not that way, this way." While some people have said that Bette Davis' look is overdone in the beginning of the movie, I believe it was necessary to show the transformation, and also to show what harm mental abuse can cause. While Paul Henried is perhaps a little overdone as Jerry, he too is necessary to show that love can come in unexpected ways an not all stories end neatly. I think he is much better in this film than in Casablanca. All in all, A beautifully realized portrait of how love can make people believe in themselves.
  • BumpyRide22 September 2004
    This is what great film making is all about. Everything comes together in this classic movie, and Bette never looked more beautiful decked out in fabulous 1940's clothes designed by Orry-Kelly. Most everyone can relate to the downtrodden Charlotte Vale under the viscous thumb of her selfish mother. And who doesn't stand up and cheer when Charlotte defies her mother, finds love and starts to live her own life? Bette's performance is subdued, and there's no chewing up the scenery here because it's a great script that needs little enhancement. Filled with great lines and classic scenes, this is one film that every true classic film lover needs in their collection.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    On paper, the plot of "Now, Voyager" sounds too ridiculous to be played straight. And yet, despite its soap opera origins, this is a work of beauty and artistry: largely because of the magnificent lead performance by Bette Davis, but also because of Irving Rapper's sensitive direction and the first class production values. Even just twenty years later, the same material would come out as hopelessly camp (imagine, if you will, what would have happened if this had been shot in lurid 1959 Technicolor, starring Susan Hayward or, worse yet, Lana Turner). POSSIBLE SPOILERS IN PLOT SUMMARY: Davis is Charlotte Vale, a repressed Boston spinster ("MISS Charlotte Vale," as her hellish mother would sneer) under the complete control of her iron-fisted mother (Gladys Cooper in an unforgettable performance). With the aid of a renowned psychiatrist, Dr. Jacquith (Claude Rains), Charlotte transforms into a sophisticated-looking woman, but she remains insecure and shy. Jacquith sends her off on a restorative cruise to Brazil with an admonition from Walt Whitman: "Now, voyager...set ye forth to seek and find." What she finds is unconditional love in the form of a married man, Jerry (Paul Henreid), who is touched by Charlotte's plight and helps her to blossom even further. Knowing their love affair is impossible, Charlotte and Jerry vow to never see or speak to each other again once their vacation is over. At last having known what it is to love and be loved, Charlotte returns home and, for the first time, stands up to her mother and begins creating a new life for herself. Some time later, she accidentally meets Jerry's adolescent daughter Tina (the excellent Janis Wilson), who is the very picture of a 13-year-old, frightened, repressed Charlotte Vale. Charlotte then finds a new purpose in life: helping Tina out of her shell, just as Jerry had helped Charlotte. END SUMMARY/SPOILERS. Clearly, the plot teetered dangerously close to bathos. And, in today's quest for "realism," this film could never survive a contemporary telling. But the actors so believe in it, so does the audience. In spite of the properly lush Max Steiner score, in spite of the grand Hollywood style, in spite of the operatic silliness of some of the plot devices, the end result is never less than convincing. At the heart of it, of course, is Bette Davis, in perhaps her finest, most restrained performance ever. Never once does she "ham it up"; and the material practically invites overacting. Yes, the performances and dialogue are stylized, but this is what MOVIES are all about. It treads a fine line between fantasy and honesty; you never once forget that you're watching a movie (which is a high compliment in my book), and it's all so artfully done, you believe (wish?) that real life is truly like it. Even in 1942, that was a rare feat--and impossible today.
  • nicholas_varley21 February 2005
    I just saw this for the first time on TCM and thought it was wonderful (and I'm a guy!).

    Bette Davis, after her transformation, is simply gorgeous. Paul Henreid is superb as the love interest and the rest of the supporting cast are brilliant, particularly Rains, Cooper and Wickes.

    I have not seen many Bette Davis films, but she produces a compelling performance here.

    I agree with many other reviewers that this film could not be made today because the art has gone out of acting. Compared to this, you can see just what drivel Hollywood turns out today (with very, very, very, very few exceptions).

    And those folks who keep banging on about the smoking and its health implications, switch off the PC nonsense and view the film through the eyes of the '40s, when attitudes to smoking were far different to the modern attitudes. And by the way, I am a reformed smoker myself!

    Back to the theme: This is a great cinematic classic with a wonderful Max Steiner score. Anyone who has not had the pleasure of watching it, go grab a copy and enjoy the lost arts of the cinema!!
  • This film is an excellant Bette Davis film, it puts the term vehicle beyond the normal usage of the term. Bette shines as both the repressed and neurotic spinster and the worldly sophisticated woman she then becomes. It is a film that transgresses the decades since it was made and speaks to women of all ages.

    My favourate quote of Paul Heinreid (he looks like his idea of fun would be to find a nice damp grave and sit in it) is turned around and he actually portrays a sympathetic character.

    Claude Rains is a sexy (yes thats right I do find the guy sexy) psychiatrist who puts her back together again.

    the plot is great the dialogue excellant and my favourite last line is the message on my mobile (slightly changed to fit the letters allowed).

    It is a film for all to watch when stressed or depressed, it also works great with chocolates wine and tissues.

    Watch this and enjoy.
  • treeline17 February 2010
    Warning: Spoilers
    Charlotte Vale (Bette Davis) is a dowdy spinster who has been driven to a nervous breakdown by her tyrannical mother. She enters a sanitarium and emerges an attractive and confident woman, ready to experience life on her own terms. On a cruise, she meets Jerry (Paul Henried), a married man; he's charming and romantic and they fall in love.

    This is a great movie. Charlotte's physical and emotional transformation and her Grand Passion are the stuff that make many female hearts race, including mine. Davis gives a powerful, intelligent performance and was justly nominated for an Oscar. Leading men didn't come any smoother than Henried and he pulls off the now-silly double-cigarette act with absolute aplomb, making his flawed character seem almost heroic. Max Steiner's heart-tugging score won an Oscar.

    The movie is pure escapist delight with beautiful people, gorgeous clothes, exotic locations, and, of course, Love. A true classic romance that makes me swoon. Highly recommended.
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