|NOW, VOYAGER (director: Irving Rapper; screenwriters: Casey Robinson/based on the novel by Olive Higgins Prouty; cinematographer: Sol Polito; editor: Warren Low; music: Max Steiner; cast: Bette Davis (Charlotte Vale), Ilka Chase (Lisa Vale), Paul Henreid (Jerry Durrance), Claude Rains (Dr. Jaquith), Gladys Cooper (Mrs. Henry Vale), Bonita Granville (June Vale), John Loder (Elliott Livingston), Lee Patrick (Deb' McIntyre), James Rennie (Frank McIntyre), Franklin Pangborn (Mr. Thompson), Mary Wickes (Dora Pickford), Janis Wilson (Tina Durrance); Runtime: 117; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Hal B. Wallis; MGM Home Entertainment Warner Bros.; 1942)|
|"It's one of the better 'women
pictures,' though it got too weepie, mushy and
full of itself for me."
by Dennis Schwartz
Rapper ("Rhapsody in Blue"/"One Foot in
Heaven"/"Marjorie Morningstar") is all in as he
directs this psychological soap opera about the
transformation of a repressed 'Old Maid.' He makes it
into an Ugly Duckling tale. It's based on
the Olive Higgins Prouty novel with a soggy
screenplay by Casey Robinson. The
author took her title from Walt
Whitman's "The Untold Want" in Songs of
Voyager was Bette Davis' biggest Warner box
office hit of the '40s. It's one of the better
'women pictures,' though it got too weepie, mushy and
full of itself for me. It's famous for Bette Davis
telling her married lover, Paul Henreid, let's not ask
for the moon if we have the stars. And for the scene
where the smooth Henreid lights two cigarettes at once
and gives her one. I think the sentimental pic works
so well because it has all the cheesy ingredients to
make it work as a Hollywood classic, and none of the
arty touches to deflate its sad love story.
Boston shrink Dr. Jaquith (Claude
Rains), after improving his ill patient with a stay at
his sanitarium so she avoids a nervous breakdown, now
recommends an ocean voyage to see if she can become
independent from her possessive mom. The patient is Charlotte
Vale (Bette Davis), a dowdy
thirtyish neurotic spinster with an overbearing
aristocratic monster mom (Gladys Cooper).
She still lives with mom in the Boston family mansion.
the luxury liner Charlotte meets nice guy
sophisticate Jerry Durrance (Paul
Henreid), an unhappily married man,
trained as an architect but is not doing what he loves
because his bossy wife doesn't want him to. The rather
soft guy is also alone on the voyage. His friends, the
(James Rennie & Lee
Patrick), tell Charlotte
that the devoted father will never leave his two
the cruise they get off the boat in Rio de
Janeiro, and though alone remain chaste for a
few days before rejoining the boat in Buenos Aires.
Despite no sex they fall in love, but promise not to see each other after the voyage.
voyage affair has made Charlotte more confident and
chic, which enables her to have a better relationship
with her domineering mom. Charlotte
looks more attractive and becomes engaged to the
eligible widower Elliot Livingston (John
Loder). At a party she meets Jerry, who is
at least happy to be working now as an architect
despite his domineering wife's objections. Jerry's
marriage has badly affected his repressed daughter
Tina (Janis Wilson), whom Charlotte sympathizes with
and gets permission from the shrink to take the child
back to her mansion to be treated with a surrogate
mother's TLC. Charlotte breaks off her
engagement when she realizes she doesn't love the
widower and dedicates her life to helping Dr.
Jaquith's clinic thrive with her large
financial donations. While
she raises Jerry's troubled daughter, she leaves
the frustrated martyr with his unwanted wife.
Charlotte finds being with Tina gives her the feeling
of being close to the man she loves. It's hard to
swallow such crap, but in this pic that explanation
love story is out of whack, but since the pic was so
popular it probably connected with a large audience
who have also given up finding love in a marriage yet
remain married for either the children's sake or
perhaps because of their religion.
REVIEWED ON 2/2/2015 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ