Now, Voyager (1942)


Batty Davis
Batty Davis

Genre: Romance Drama

Starring: Bette Davis (What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?All About Eve), Paul Henreid (Night Train to MunichCasablanca)

Directed By: Irving Rapper (The Glass MenagerieAnother Man's Poison)

Overview: A repressed, dominated daughter on the verge of a nervous breakdown is given the opportunity to blossom with the help of a therapist. After she discovers love and independence, she finds that returning home to her overbearing mother is quite the difficult challenge.

If you've read my last post, you'll know that serious film study has gone by the wayside of late, and for the first time in months, I've decided to pick up one of the movies on the master list. Bette Davis seemed like a good choice, not having seen anything with her in it yet, and I'm sort of hoping that 'crazy' is her own particular gift that she was able to sell to Hollywood's 40s fans, because I found it quite enjoyable myself.

Now, Voyager was Bette Davis' most successful film in the box office, and with a display of her talent this rich, it's obvious to see. We begin with a frumpy ugly duckling of a girl, an emotional wreck really, who is visited by a therapist. When the therapist is done with his assessment of her, he returns downstairs and tells her mother flat out that she couldn't have sabotaged this woman's life any better if she tried. With that, he takes Charlotte away to therapy, and to her finding herself through her own independence - a refreshing twist for a film that seemed all too tragic in the beginning.

"Dr. Jasquith says that tyranny is sometimes expression of the maternal instinct. If that's a mother's love, I want no part of it." - Charlotte Vale

From that point we learn about this woman with a burgeoning independence as she finds herself becoming more confident and friendly and popular, even finding love on a cruise. Yet all is not resolved for she must eventually return home to the woman who raised her and who put her in her terrible state in the first place.

Now, Voyager's script and plot are multi-layered enough that you can tell the source material was a novel.

There's a 'light my smoke' scene in this one that had women asking this actor to light their smokes for years.
There's a particularly romantic 'light my smoke' scene in Now, Voyager that had women asking actor Paul Henreid to light their smokes for years.

Performance: 8 Cinematography: 8 Script: 8 Plot: 8 Mood: 6

Overall Rating: 76% (Or At Least Soon, Traveller)

Now, Voyager has its problems, mostly lying in the era the film was produced. The orchestral accompaniment ensures that you know when the romantic / tragic / tragically romantic / romantically tragic moments are coming to a crescendo, and the stage direction all too often seems exactly that - staged: a woman embarrassed turns dramatically, climbing the stairs, her gown flowing behind her. The man who loves her runs after her, catching her wrist on the third step, turning her around... they are eye to eye, lips close to one another. It's not cheesy, but it certainly comes all too close.

Because of these dated / near-cliché moments, I wouldn't recommend Now, Voyager to people who aren't into melodrama, however the love story is different, the characters are rich and the moments of fantastically delivered performances hold off ire from even such a jaded sort as I.

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i loved ' now, voyager ', its wonderful...

i have no words, but i really loved it...

it takes me back to romantic settings, i dont know, i am just fond of it.

being one of the first black and white movies i saw after ' quitting seeing '

black and white movies / classic, it really made me happy.

the story is warm. and bette davis is amazing!!!

I love her. what a movie... i could go back to '42 and see it again,

and again... and again...


thanks .

Maybe that was my problem with this one. I really loved Now Voyager and everybody in it are good but it got that 10% too much melodrama for my taste. You are right of course, it is a product of its time and in that light I suppose it is okay. The mother-daughter conflict is the cornerstone of this picture.

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