Now, Voyager (1942)
Tuesday, July 9th
In the staunch, traditional Boston home of the Vale family, spinster Aunt Charlotte (Bette Davis) is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. She has lived all her life under the domineering control of her elder mother (Gladys Cooper), who’s emotional and verbal abuse have made Charlotte insecure and nervous. Now she is put into the care of Dr. Jaquith (Claude Rains) and sent to his sanatorium Cascade in Vermont. After a few months, Charlotte is well enough to leave Cascade, however is not ready to return home. Charlotte’s sister-in-law and Dr. Jaquith arrange for her to sail to South America.
While on her cruise, by chance it is arranged that she will share her car for the day with another passenger on the ship, Jeremiah Duvaux Durrance, Jerry (Paul Henreid). During the course of their day Jerry tells her about his wife and daughters. One of whom, Tina, is an introverted and unhappy little girl who reminds Charlotte of herself. Charlotte confesses to Jerry the true nature for her voyage to South America, and his acceptance and friendship during the trip helps Charlotte feel ready to join the world. While driving in Rio de Janeiro Charlotte and Jerry are involved in a car accident and are left stranded for the night while their driver goes off to find help. Charlotte misses the ship which has already left for the next port and on Jerry’s insistence decides to stay with him in Rio. Over the course of the five days together they fall in love, but part deciding to never see each other again.
Charlotte now returns to Boston a confident and outgoing woman. Her mother instantly disapproves of her daughters’ new independence, but the two women create a truce and continue to live in the house together. Charlotte now seeks to figure out the next chapter of her life, but Jerry is never very far from her thoughts.
When Bette Davis learned that Warner Bros had purchased the rights to Olive Higgins Prouty novel, she immediately began campaigning for the chance to play Charlotte Vale in the film adaptation. This film would also foreshadow many of the changes that Davis would make in her career, by taking more control of the decisions that were made for the films she would star in. For Now, Voyager she would maneuver her way into picking her director and many of her co-stars, she would work closely with designer Orry-Kelly to create her “looks” for each scene. Her careful attention to detail proved triumphant; Now, Voyager would be Davis’ most successful film in her career.
Paul Henreid arrived in Hollywood after a modest career in Europe in small roles. For Henreid, 1942 would prove to be his biggest year with leading roles in the two most important Warner Bros. films, Now, Voyager and Casablanca (both of which also featured Claude Rains). In Now, Voyager he would distinguish himself as a romantic lead, and created his most memorable scenes with the lighting of the two cigarettes. Davis and Henreid would be paired again for the film Deception (1946), though it performed well at the box office it did not match their success in Now, Voyager. In the early 1950’s he would begin directing for film and television. In 1964, he and Davis would reunite, this time him directing her in the film Dead Ringer.
TCM will be showing Now, Voyager in tribute to Star of the Month Paul Henreid. The evening will begin with the trio of films he made with Bette Davis. Click on the link below to read more about Paul Henreid and his Star of the Month feature.
Images from: Now, Voyager Dir. Irving Rapper. Warner Brothers, 1942. DVD.
Tagged: Bette Davis, Casablanca, Claude Rains, Dead Ringer, Deception, Gladys Cooper, Now Voyager, Olive Higgins Prouty, Orry-Kelly, Paul Henreid, TCM, TCM Star of the Month, Turner Classic Movies, Warner Bros, Warner Bros. Pictures, Warner Bros. Studios, Warner Brothers