Monday, October 31, 2011
Now, Voyager (5 stars)
Now, Voyager, the beautiful, bittersweet, romantic drama from 1942, is not only my favorite Bette Davis film, it's my all-time favorite romantic film...AND my all-time favorite film...period. I absolutely LOVE Now, Voyager and am utterly shocked that I haven't already reviewed it here. Boy, have I been remiss!!
Starring along with Bette in this beautiful, tender movie is Paul Henreid, with Claude Rains and Gladys Cooper in supporting roles. It's the story of Charlotte Vale, an ugly, awkward, middle-aged spinster, who is on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
At the request of Charlotte's sister-in-law, and against the wishes of Charlotte's extremely controlling mother, renowned psychiatrist Dr. Jaquith (Claude Rains) makes a visit to the Vale home. What he witnesses astounds him---Charlotte is publicly put down and shamed by her mother and mocked by her niece. She is insecure...withdrawn...paranoid. In fact, Charlotte is extremely close to falling completely apart, a result of the disapproval, criticism, and humiliation that have been upon her for years. Wanting to help her, Dr. Jaquith suggests that Charlotte spend some time at Cascade, his mountain sanitarium.
After several weeks at Cascade, and not wanting to return home to her mother, at Dr. Jacquith's suggestion, Charlotte embarks on a trans-Atlantic cruise. (The first view of the transformed Charlotte is breathtaking---she has lost weight, no longer wears glasses, and is elegantly dressed.)
While on the cruise, Charlotte meets architect Jerry Durence (Paul Henreid), and the two fall deeply in love...it's a love that does wonders for Charlotte, causing her to blossom and gain confidence. Unfortunately, Jerry is married, so there can be no future for him and Charlotte. Or can there?