Now, Voyager (1942)

now voyager poster 1942 movie
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 8/10

Good example of the time


Movie Info

Movie Name:  Now, Voyager

Studio:  Warner Bros.

Genre(s):  Drama/Romance

Release Date(s):  October 22, 1942 (Premiere)/October 31, 1942 (US)

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

now voyager bette davis ugly duckling

Oh why am I such an ugly duckling?

Charlotte Vale (Bette Davis) is an ugly duckling.  She is kept down by her controlling older mother Mrs. Windle Vale (Gladys Cooper) and pushed to the edge.  When Charlotte has a breakdown, she goes into treatment…and comes out a new woman.  Charlotte goes on a whirlwind trip where she meets married Jerry Duvaux Durrance (Paul Henreid) who she finds an instant connection…but returning to her home and her mother could mean that Charlotte has to face her demons all over again.

Directed by Irving Rapper, Now, Voyager is a romance drama.  The film is an adaptation of Olive Higgins Prouty’s 1941 novel and was a box office success.  It received an Academy Award for Best Music—Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture with nominations for Best Actress (Bette Davis) and Best Supporting Actress (Gladys Cooper).  The film was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress in the National Film Registry in 2007, and the Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #1004).

now voyager gladys cooper mother

Mommie Dearest

Melodramas from the 1940s always seem to play a certain way.  Now, Voyager is a great example of a romance drama that both exemplifies the period but remains memorable.

The movie has the intentionally downplayed Bette Davis who obviously is a “swan”.  The real pull of the story is the relationships in the movie.  Charlotte is totally subservient to her mother and there is the fear that she will fall under her power when she is forced to return to her…instead she proves her independence.  Likewise, the relationship between Charlotte and Jerry is a complex relationship that is better than some of the relationships in similar films.

Bette Davis is at her best in the film.  She’s able to get the old maid vibe but she’s also able to pull off the cool, collected, and powerful role she needs after her transformation.  Paul Henreid is a decent leading man who works well with Davis.  John Loder plays the sap character who is a nice guy but not a match for Charlotte while Claude Rains has his normal role as the wise doctor.  The scene stealer is Gladys Cooper who plays a great wicked woman…she is downright evil in her control of Charlotte.

now voyager bette davis paul henreid ending

…we have the stars!

The movie is classy and looks good.  There is a nice location for the sanitarium Cascade (actually Big Bear in California) but there is also a lot of faked locations which is typical of the time.  The movie is pretty standard in its look at its time, but it is well done.

Now, Voyager is the type of movie that doesn’t really have a place now.  It isn’t necessarily a romance since there is an unconventional ending, and it isn’t a rom-com since there isn’t much humor in the movie.  It also isn’t the standard drama…it is its own thing that was rather typical at the time.  It would be interesting to try to make a movie like Now, Voyager now…but it feels that movies like this cannot be recreated.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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