Now, Voyager (1942)

Seventy-nine years ago today, the film Now, Voyager premiered in New York City. Widely considered as on the of the best romantic films of all time, you have to see this movie.

Title: Now, Voyager
Directed by: Irving Rapper
Screenplay by: Casey Robinson
Based on: Now, Voyager 1941 novel by Olive Higgins Prouty
Produced by: Hal B. Wallis
Starring: Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Gladys Cooper
Cinematography: Sol Polito
Edited by: Warren Low
Music by: Max Steiner
Distributed by: Warner Bros.
Release date: October 22, 1942 (New York City); October 31, 1942 (USA)
Running time: 117 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $877,000
Academy Award for Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture – Max Steiner

Drab Charlotte Vale is an unattractive, repressed spinster whose life is brutally dominated by her tyrannical mother, an aristocratic Boston dowager whose verbal and emotional abuse of her daughter has contributed to the woman’s complete lack of self-confidence. Mrs. Vale had already brought up three sons, and Charlotte was an unwanted child born to her late in life. Fearing that Charlotte is on the verge of a nervous breakdown, her sister-in-law Lisa introduces her to psychiatrist Dr. Jaquith, who recommends that she spend time in his sanitarium.

Away from her mother’s control, Charlotte blossoms, and at Lisa’s urging, the transformed woman opts to take a lengthy cruise instead of going home immediately. On the ship, she meets Jeremiah Duvaux Durrance, a married man traveling with his friends Deb and Frank McIntyre. From them, Charlotte learns of how Jerry’s devotion to his young daughter Christine (“Tina”) keeps him from divorcing his wife, a manipulative, jealous woman who does not love Tina and keeps Jerry from engaging in his chosen career of architecture, despite the fulfillment he gets from it.

Charlotte and Jerry become friendly, and in Rio de Janeiro, the two are stranded on Sugarloaf Mountain when their car crashes. They miss the ship and spend five days together before Charlotte flies to Buenos Aires to rejoin the cruise. Although they have fallen in love, they decide it would be best not to see each other again.

Charlotte’s family is stunned by the dramatic changes in her appearance and demeanor when she arrives home. Her mother is determined to destroy her daughter once again, but Charlotte is resolved to remain independent. The memory of Jerry’s love and devotion helps give her the strength she needs to remain resolute.

Charlotte becomes engaged to wealthy, well-connected widower Elliot Livingston, but after a chance meeting with Jerry, she breaks off the engagement, about which she quarrels with her mother. During the argument, Charlotte says she did not ask to be born, that her mother never wanted her, and it has “been a calamity on both sides.” Mrs. Vale is so shocked that her once-weak daughter has found the courage to talk back to her that she has a heart attack and dies. Guilty and distraught, Charlotte returns to the sanitarium.

When she arrives at the sanitarium, she is immediately diverted from her own problems when she meets Jerry’s lonely, unhappy 12-year-old daughter Tina, who has been sent to Dr. Jaquith. Tina greatly reminds Charlotte of herself; both were unwanted and unloved by their mothers. Shaken from her depression, Charlotte becomes overly interested in Tina’s welfare, and with Dr. Jaquith’s permission, she takes her under her wing. When the girl improves, Charlotte takes her home to Boston.

Jerry and Dr. Jaquith visit the Vale home, where Jerry is delighted to see his daughter’s changes. While he initially pities Charlotte, believing her to be settling in her life, he is taken aback by her contempt for his initial condescension. Dr. Jaquith has allowed Charlotte to keep Tina there to understand that her relationship with Jerry will remain platonic. She tells Jerry that she sees Tina as his gift to her and her way of being close to him. When Jerry asks her if she is happy, Charlotte finds much to value in her life, even if she does not have everything she wants: “Oh, Jerry, don’t let’s ask for the moon. We have the stars.”

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