Now, Voyager

1942

Now, Voyager (1942)

TOMATOMETER

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Critic Consensus: Now, Voyager is a Hollywood swooner with Bette Davis and Paul Henreid in a melodrama to end all melomers.

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Movie Info

Olive Higgins Prouty's popular novel was transformed into nearly two hours of high-grade soap opera by several masters of the trade: Warner Bros., Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, director Irving Rapper, and screenwriter Casey Robinson. Davis plays repressed Charlotte Vale, dying on the vine thanks to her domineering mother (Gladys Cooper). All-knowing psychiatrist Dr. Jaquith (Claude Rains) urges Charlotte to make several radical changes in her life, quoting Walt Whitman: "Now voyager sail thou forth to seek and find." Slowly, Charlotte emerges from her cocoon of tight hairdos and severe clothing to blossom into a gorgeous fashion plate. While on a long ocean voyage, she falls in love with Jerry Durrance (Henreid), who is trapped in a loveless marriage. After kicking over the last of her traces at home, Charlotte selflessly becomes a surrogate mother to Jerry's emotionally disturbed daughter (a curiously uncredited Janis Wilson), who is on the verge of becoming the hysterical wallflower that Charlotte once was. An interim romance with another man (John Loder) fails to drive Jerry from Charlotte's mind. The film ends ambiguously; Jerry is still married, without much chance of being divorced from his troublesome wife, but the newly self-confident Charlotte is willing to wait forever if need be. "Don't ask for the moon," murmurs Charlotte as Max Steiner's romantic music reaches a crescendo, "we have the stars." In addition to this famous line, Now, Voyager also features the legendary "two cigarettes" bit, in which Jerry places two symbolic cigarettes between his lips, lights them both, and hands one to Charlotte. The routine would be endlessly lampooned in subsequent films, once by Henreid himself in the satirical sword-and-sandal epic Siren of Baghdad (1953).

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Cast

Bette Davis
as Charlotte Vale
Paul Henreid
as Jerry Durrance
Claude Rains
as Dr. Jaquith
Gladys Cooper
as Mrs. Henry Vale
John Loder
as Elliott Livingston
Ilka Chase
as Lisa Vale
Lee Patrick
as `Deb' McIntyre
James Rennie
as Frank McIntyre
Charles Drake
as Leslie Trotter
Janis Wilson
as Tina Durrance
Mary Wickes
as Dora Pickford
Tod Andrews
as Dr. Dan Regan
Franklin Pangborn
as Mr. Thompson
David Clyde
as William
Don Douglas
as George Weston
Charlotte Wynters
as Grace Weston
Mary Field
as Passenger
Bill Edwards
as Passenger
Isabel Withers
as Passenger
Frank Dae
as Passenger
Bill Kennedy
as Hamilton Hunneker
Ian Wolfe
as Lloyd
Reed Hadley
as Henry Montague
Elspeth Dudgeon
as Aunt Hester
Tempe Piggott
as Mrs. Smith
George Lessey
as Uncle Herbert
Yola d'Avril
as Celestine
Georges Renavent
as Mons. Henri
Hamilton Hunneker
as Bill Kennedy
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Critic Reviews for Now, Voyager

All Critics (22)

It's one of the better 'women pictures,' though it got too weepie, mushy and full of itself for me.

Feb 4, 2015 | Rating: B | Full Review…

A superlative, juicy mother-daughter melodrama with top notch performance from Bette Davis, at the top of her form, and the rest of the cast.

Mar 5, 2011 | Rating: A- | Full Review…

Lots of appeal for highly romantic teens.

Dec 26, 2010 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

If you can resist Bette Davis in fat suit, hideous dress, and monobrow, you're not as gay as you think you are. I guess I kind of liked it.

Jun 28, 2010 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

It's all far more complicated than it needs to be, but then again, what would you cut?

Mar 27, 2010 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…

Compulsively watchable four-hankie weepie.

Oct 18, 2008 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Now, Voyager

½

After undergoing psychotherapy for damage caused by her domineering mother, a woman meets a dashing man, but his marriage complicates their romance. Paul Henreid. Why would Isla choose Bogie over you? She certainly wouldn't if the "you" in Casablanca was the epitome of charm that the "you" in this film is. Lighting two cigarettes without breaking eye contact and flipping one around to a lady, you rock the forties definition of masculinity. And Bette Davis. You weren't always scary looking. This is an exceptionally charming but wrought film. All the high drama is played to its highest, but the plot takes the easy way out of some of its conflicts. Most notably, instead of Charlotte confronting her mother about her childhood and the two coming to some kind of cathartic compromise, Mom dies so the love plot can continue. And the love plot resolves in an equally unsatisfying and convenient manner. Overall, the performances by the leads are wonderful, but the story is too convenient for my liking.

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

½

Max Steiner's haunting score swells like a tidal current throughout this, the grand mal weeper to end all weepers. A young woman struggles valiantly against the overprotective will of her indomitable rock of a mother, herself made hard by life, to forge a life and love free of restraint. Paul Henried is understanding, charming and loyal, Claude Rains is wise, insightful and patient, but Bette, scratching and clawing her way from ugly duckling to grace, gives the shimmering performance of a lifetime

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

½

An interesting story for a drama, but I'm not very fond of this movie for some reason, I don't know why I don't like it, it's not a bad movie, it's actually pretty good. Maybe if there was a different cast?

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

the GAYNESS in now, voyager... Chuck Kleinhans in "Rehearsal for a Theory of Subtextual Readings" notes on Now Yoyager: "Consider Now Voyager. The plot portrays the gradual emergence of repressed mousy spinster (Bette Davis) into a sexually active matture woman under the tutelage of a wise older man (Claude Rains). This emergent butterfly metaphor. while certainly being a universally understood pattern within our culture, has a special resonance for amany gay men who themselves have experienced or who are experiencing the conditions of discovering and exploring one's sexuality which has been repressed within the family and other insitutions. In other words, identification with the character and situation is very strong. This is visually enhanced because of the changes in the Davis character are signalled in changing dress, hair, style, and physical bearing - precisely those areas which gay men often publically present their resistance to dominant heterosexual norm." Andrew Ross' "use of camp" notes: "it was Davis' willed evasion of this fate that her fans saw reflected in the nervous and impetuous intensity with which she invests the celebrated "bitchiness" into her roles . . . While the wide range of her mannered repertoire is often reduced in camp caricature to the famously over-used cigarette, or her wildly rolling eyes, it is clear that the sense of irony she conveyed through such gestures was more of a performance about the performance of her roles, rather than one which comfortably interpreted these roles. In contrast to Joan Crawford's earnest control over her roles, Davis could separate voice and body, image and discourse, and play off one against the other. But Mae West is the star who most professionally exploits the ironies of artifice when, like a female drag queen, she represents a woman who parodies a burlesque woman, and then seems to take on the role for real, as a way of successfully fielding every kind of masculine response known to woman. West pioneered a new bold, no-nonsense, no-romance relation with sex, while the sexual ambiguities of Garbo, Dietrichm and Hepburn all produced variations of androgyny-as-spectacle: prince of passivity, bird of paradise, and go-getter." good to read some prestiged author announces bette is actually CAMPIER than joan...LOL. since joan is just "earnestly controlling" her roles. imagine now, voyager as a drag, gee, that would be fun!

Veronique Kwak
Veronique Kwak

Super Reviewer

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