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 on June 3rd in 1942 and did his first scene on Casablanca (1942) at 10:30 the next morning.
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.
The movie's line "Oh, Jerry, don't let's ask for the moon. We have the stars." was voted as the #46 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100).
The love theme from this film was later used as background music in the seduction scene from Mildred Pierce (1945).
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 facilities and philosophy of Cascade, the "sanatorium" where Charlotte is treated in the book and movie, are based on the real-life Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, MA, where author Olive Higgins Prouty had once sought treatment. The Riggs Center was notable at the time for its focus on physical activity, occupational therapy, daily talk therapy sessions, and eschewing lobotomies and other drastic medical treatments of the time.
Bette Davis complained about Max Steiner's Academy Award-winning musical score, saying that it was too intrusive on her performance.
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.
The comic scenes in which Giuseppe (Frank Puglia), the cab driver, drives Charlotte (Bette Davis) and Jerry (Paul Henreid) up Sugar Loaf in Rio are effective because Giuseppe does not speak English and neither Charlotte nor Jerry speak Portuguese. Yet, the comedy is even more intensified because Giuseppe does not speak Portuguese either. Rather he jabbers on in a sort of 'lingua franca' mixture of Pugli's native Scilian, Spanish, and Portuguese. All of it spoken with an Italian accent. Ironically, the novel has this scene set in Naples, which has led some to wonder if the script was initially to follow the novel's cruise of the Mediterranean.
On-set observers reported that Bette Davis often seemed to be directing the film for Irving Rapper. Unlike others she had worked with, his approach to her was much more conciliatory. Rather than order her to play a scene a certain way, he would ask her to try his ideas to see if they would work for her.
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."
For the first scene after Charlotte's metamorphosis, Hal B. Wallis asked Orry-Kelly to put her in a wide-brimmed hat so the audience wouldn't get a full look at her new face until later. He also wanted to maintain a sense of her shyness. Jack L. Warner objected to the choice, but Wallis ignored him.
Bette Davis had walked out of Warner Bros. before the making of this movie and refused to play Charlotte Vale. According to Ginger Rogers, she had been given the script to read as a replacement of Davis and was desperate to play Charlotte. Davis got wind of this and came back to the studio, playing the character that was originally intended for her. Rogers said that she "would have given anything to play Charlotte Vale - even if I did let Jack L. Warner beat me at tennis!"
The screenplay is a fairly faithful adaptation of the novel, except that in the book, Charlotte takes a cruise in the Mediterranean, not to South America.
Hal B. Wallis cut a scene in which Lisa takes Charlotte to a beauty parlour before her ocean voyage, so that the audience first sees the transformed Bette Davis at the same time as the ship's passengers. He also cut a silent dream sequence in which the young Charlotte dances with the ship's officer with whom she was once in love.
To play Charlotte before her transformation, Bette Davis asked costume designer Orry-Kelly to pad her figure to suggest extra weight, then she had makeup artist Perc Westmore give her thicker eyebrows. Her look in the film was a compromise. Originally she had wanted a more extreme look, but Hal B. Wallis considered it too grotesque.
Charlotte's relationship to Lisa (played by Ilka Chase) is never made clear in the movie; in the novel Lisa is the widow of Charlotte's late brother Rupert. A subplot of the novel, cut from the movie, deals with Lisa's remarriage and the family's disapproval.
Within three weeks, the film was six and a half days behind schedule. Among the problems were weather delays during location shooting at Laguna Beach, Bette Davis' illnesses and Gladys Cooper's problems remembering her lines (she was putting in long nights at the USO helping with the war effort). In addition, Davis worked very slowly, insisting on time to analyse every scene as it was shot.
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 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. This wasn't an original idea, a similar exchange occurred ten years earlier between Ruth Chatterton and George Brent in The Rich Are Always with Us (1932), which happens to have Bette Davis in it. Director Rapper subsequently called Henreid "a liar" for claiming he thought of it, and the director pointed out it had been done in a D. W. Griffith film in 1917.
The main love theme from the score was published as the hit song "It Can't Be Wrong" with music by Max Steiner and lyrics by Kim Gannon.
"Now Voyager" was actually the third book in a five-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. Prouty wrote the next novel in the series, "Home Port," with an eye to it being filmed, and while a script exists, it was never produced.
Although pleased with the film, Jack L. Warner's brother Harry insisted that the scenes of Charlotte's Lake Arrowhead vacation with Tina be shortened.
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).
"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on February 11, 1946 with Bette Davis reprising her film role.
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
Included among the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the 400 movies nominated for the Top 100 Greatest American Movies.
This was featured in the movie "Summer of 42". Benjy and his friends spend the summer on an island and during this summer see this movie. Yet this movie wasn't released until October 1942.
"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on May 10, 1943 with Paul Henreid reprising his film role.
The last of five films in five successive years in which Bette Davis was nominated for the Best Actress Oscar after Jezebel (1938), Dark Victory (1939), The Letter (1940) and The Little Foxes (1941). She won for Jezebel. This film was the only one of the five not also nominated for Best Picture.
Gladys Cooper's Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominated performance was the only one in the category not in a Best Picture nominee that year.
This film's earliest documented telecast took place in Tucson Monday 17 September 1956 on KDWI (Channel 9); it first aired in Wichita Saturday 6 October 1956 on KAKE (Channel 10), in Cincinnati Sunday 14 October 1956 on WKRC (Channel 12), in Salt Lake City Monday 7 January 1957 on KUTV (Channel 2), in Phoenix Monday 14 January 1957 on KVAR (Channel 12), and in Boston Sunday 20 January 1957 on WBZ (Channel 4).
Opening credits: The story, all names, characters and incidents portrayed in this production are fictitious. No identification with actual persons, living or dead, is intended or should be inferred.