June 5, 2011

Sunday Matinée: Now, Voyager


Now, Voyager

Director: Irving Rapper
Writers: Casey Robinson (screenplay), Olive Higgins Prouty (novel)
Stars: Bette Davis, Paul Henreid and Claude Rains

Favorite Quote: "Don't let's ask for the moon. We have the stars."

Now, Voyager is a 1942 drama that was directed by Irving Rapper. Casey Robinson based the screenplay on the 1941 novel by Olive Higgins Prouty that had the same name (I’m still trying to find a copy to read). Prouty took her title from a line in a Walt Whitman poem “The Untold Want” which is read in the movie:
“The untold want by life and land ne’er granted,
Now voyager sail thou forth to seek and find.”
The movie follows Charlotte Vale (Bette Davis), an unattractive, overweight, spinster whose life is controlled by a verbal and emotional abusive mother (Gladys Cooper). Because of this abuse, Charlotte has no self-confidence and is thought to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown by her sister-in-law, Lisa (Ilka Chase), an angel in Charlotte’s eyes. Lisa introduces the family to Dr. Jaquith (Claude Rains), who has no doubt that Charlotte is troubled and takes her away to spend time in his sanatorium.
While away from her mother, Charlotte is able to blossom. The new woman, at her sister-in-law’s encouragement, goes on a lengthy cruise after her treatment where she meets Jeremiah ‘Jerry’ Duvaux Durrance (Paul Henreid), a married man traveling with friends. Through his friends, Charlotte learns about Jerry’s daughter Christine ‘Tina’, and how his manipulative and jealous wife treats her (much like how Charlotte’s mother treats her). Because of Jerry’s devotion to his daughter, he will not divorce his wife in fear of how Tina would be treated.
On a port stop in Rio de Janeiro, Jerry and Charlotte become stranded after there car runs off the road on Sugarloaf Mountain. They end up spending five days together before Charlotte flies to Buenos Aires to rejoin the cruise. It’s in those five days that they realize how much they love each other, but they decide it would be best not to see each other again.
When Charlotte arrives home, her family is stunned by the changes in her appearance and personality. However, her mother is quite determined to regain control over her daughter. But the memory of Jerry’s love keeps Charlotte strong.
While at home, Charlotte is introduced to Elliot Livingston (John Loder), a wealthy widower. They eventually become engaged although it is soon broken off after Charlotte sees Jerry at a party. As imagined Charlotte’s mother is upset at the news of the broken engagement and quarrels with her daughter. During the argument Mrs. Vale becomes so angry that she has a heart attack and dies. Of course Charlotte blames herself for her mother’s death that she decides to return to the sanatorium.
When she arrives, she meets lonely and unhappy Tina (Jerry’s Daughter) and soon forgets her own problems. With permission from Dr. Jaquith, Charlotte takes Tina under her wing. Soon they both return to Charlotte’s house in Boston after Tina’s mental health had improved.
Jerry and Dr. Jaquith visit the Vale home, where they are delighted to see Tina’s improvement. Jerry at first pities Charlotte, believing she has settled in her life, but is taken aback by her acidic reaction. She simply tells Jerry that she sees Tina as his gift to her and her way of being close to him. They know that their relationship could go no further or Tina would be removed from Charlotte’s care by Dr. Jaquith. The movie ends with Jerry asking Charlotte if she is truly happy and has everything she wants, to which she replies, “Oh Jerry, don’t let’s ask for the moon. We have the stars.” (*sniff*)
I first saw this movie a few years ago and watch it at least once a month, that is until I lost the DVD. Can you believe that, I lost the DVD, case and all, who does that? Anyway, I would recommend this to anyone who has just broken up, needs a good cry, loves dramatic classics, or is big into the fashion from the 40’s. So if you fall into one of those categories, go out and rent it or look for it on TCM (my favorite channel).
Interesting fact: For those of you who may have seen P.S. I Love You (Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler) you may recognize the scene where Charlotte steps off the cruise boat to go on an excursion. It’s that same scene that Swank’s character pauses the movie and says “cute shoes.”