Now, Voyager

1942

Now, Voyager

Critics Consensus

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

91%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 22

90%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 7,435
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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)

Audience Reviews for Now, Voyager

  • Mar 30, 2018
    This film tugs on a few different heartstrings, with themes of a domineering mother, being an awkward, depressed young person, finding a deep connection and love with someone who can't be yours, and then personally evolving to the point of being able to transcend all of that, and finding one's path. It's really quite a touching film, and Bette Davis turns in another brilliant performance. The supporting cast around her is strong as well, and features Gladys Cooper (her mother), Paul Henreid (her lover), Claude Rains (her wise doctor). And, how fascinating is it that both Henreid and Rains began filming Casalanca immediately afterwards; clearly a great year for them. The film scores points for me for having its title come from a Walt Whitman line in 'Leaves of Grass': "The untold want by life and land ne'er granted; Now, Voyager sail thou forth, to seek and find," which is appropriate. The film speaks to being honest with oneself, to one's identity, as well as to the person you love, even if it's complicated. I loved the little touches of the inner voice that director Irving Rapper employs, which helps underscore this. It's heartwarming to see how those in love make each other better people. She begins to bloom, and radiate confidence after receiving simple acts of kindness and appreciation. He returns to his passion, architecture, and is more empathetic and understanding of his troubled daughter. The scene where they meet by chance again at a party, and have a conversation interlaced with whispered remarks of tenderness (such as her saying to him she could "cry with pride" over him following his dream) is lovely. At the same time, she's not defined by him, or dependent on him. In fact, the movie is a celebration of independence, and shows how it can be done gracefully and with class. Her strength come through in so many ways: in standing up to her mother, determining her path with another suitor, asserting herself with her old doctor, and ultimately deciding the terms she'll have her relationship with Henreid on. While she admits that "I've just been a big sentimental fool. It's a tendency I have," she also calmly says "Please let me go" when a big romantic moment threatens to sweep her away. The story about his child was touching, as we see Davis help her, as she was once helped, but I thought this part dragged on too long, and needed tightening up. It felt overly melodramatic and false; for one thing, where was the mother? There was a much earlier scene with a Brazilian taxi driver that got silly, and should have been left on the cutting room floor as well. On the other hand, I loved those last lines. He asks her, "And will you be happy, Charlotte?" And she responds "Oh Jerry, don't let's ask for the moon. We have the stars." How brilliant that line is; there is something larger than ourselves, larger than what others consider happiness.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Jan 23, 2014
    The transformation of Bette Davis is a treat to watch. I have yet to find a film of hers in which I have been terribly disappointed.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Oct 03, 2013
    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 H Super Reviewer
  • Sep 16, 2011
    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. W Super Reviewer

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