Now, Voyager (1942)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.  

USA, 1942.  Warner Bros..  Screenplay by , based on the novel by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

One of ‘ greatest Warner Bros. melodramas is this powerful drama about a woman’s emergence into her own self. She plays an ugly duckling spinster who, thanks to a European tour and advice from her psychiatrist () and new beau (), comes home looking like a duchess with a dollop of self-confidence to match. Now she’s ready to break her ties from her overprotective mother (a terrifying ) and voyage into life without fear.  Every inch of it impresses, from Davis’s surprising ability to play the shrinking violet effectively (she really does seem to be afflicted with frail nerves) to the international locations of the cruise sequences.  It’s a film about people learning to appreciate the moment, and to find the sheer pleasure in being themselves despite the negative weight being pushed on them by others.  Even when its soap-operatic plot fails to cross the decades (including the outcome of a muted romance that would never play the same way today), it’s themes of self-possession and accomplishment is universal.  The film is most famous for a cigarette-lighting scene that started a major trend among Americans during the forties (my dad still talks about it).

The Criterion Collection:  #1004

Academy Award:  Best Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture
Nominations: Best Actress (Bette Davis); Best Supporting Actress (Gladys Cooper)

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