Thursday, May 10, 2012

151. Now, Voyager (1942)

Running Time: 117 minutes
Directed By: Irving Rapper
Written By: Casey Robinson, from novel by Olive Higgins Prouty
Main Cast: Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Gladys Cooper, Ilka Chase
Click here to view the trailer


I've been putting off seeing this one for about a week now, as it sit on my desk, staring at me every time I sat down to the computer. For some reason, I just had this feeling that a melodrama starring Bette Davis wasn't going to appeal to me and what can I say...I know my tastes well.

Bette Davis is Charlotte Vale, the ugly duckling of the Vale family, who, at an age when she should be tending to a family of her own, still lives with her mother. Her mother (Cooper) is an overbearing old bat, who is of the opinion that as long as Charlotte remains under her roof, she'll be making all the decisions for her. When the film begins, Charlotte's sister (Chase) is coming to visit and bringing with her Dr. Jaquith (Rains), a therapist who thinks he can break Charlotte out of her shell. After spending some time with Charlotte, Dr. Jaquith is convinced she needs to spend some time at his sanitarium. Charlotte's mother protests, at first, but ultimately Charlotte is whisked away to the very homey resort, where weeks later she is cured by Dr. Jaquith. Upon her release from the sanitarium, Charlotte chooses to go on a cruise, rather than to return home right away. Aboard the cruise, we get a glimpse of the newly transformed Charlotte, a vivacious woman, who now dons designer hats, dresses and shoes. Onboard the ship, Charlotte meets Jerry Durrance (Henreid), a dashing man, who is immediately taken by Charlotte. The two fall head over heels for each other, but alas, their romance isn't meant to be, as Charlotte must return home to her mother and Jerry must attend to his wife and children. Upon her arrival home, Charlotte reunites with her mother, who has the same old attitude toward Charlotte. However, now Charlotte has gained the confidence to stand up to her mother and join in the social scene. Later, she becomes engaged to another young man from her hometown, but her heart still longs for Jerry.


Last week, after watching "Traffic", I came to the blog and proclaimed that it was perhaps the worst film I've watched for this 100, so far. Well, now "Traffic" can rest easy, because it's no longer the worst - this is. In a few words, it simply wasn't for me. Where do I even begin to recount the problems that I had with this film. For starters, the plot was just too all over the place for my tastes. In "Now, Voyager", there are essentially two plots going on at once and the film never takes off. You have the plot of Charlotte's conflict with her mother and then you have the plot of Charlotte's romance with Jerry. The two plots don't mix well and ultimately there's too much back and forth. We start with the mother problems, then we get to the romance, then back to the mother and finally, we end with the romance. It's all to muddled. The film is also far too contrived and cliche. The romance side of it is a "you've seen one, you've seen 'em all" type romance. Girl falls for guy, they part and in the end they reunite for the money shot before the closing credits. I'd seen it a thousand times and I had no desire to see it a thousand and one. The Charlotte and her mother conflict was allright and in fact, they could've made an entire film just about the conflict that the mother and daughter had with one another, but instead they went a different route and in the end, that conflict is never solved either. Mrs. Vale just dies and that's that.

But back to the cliche nature of the whole affair, which is what really turned me off to "Now, Voyager". Everything from the sappy music, down to the "glorious" shot of Charlotte and Jerry on the deck of a ship, with a sunset dipping down behind them was just about to enough to make you roll your eyes right outta' your skull. Also, where is this great actress named Bette Davis that I've heard so much about? I'm not doubting her skill and I think she was marvelous in "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?", but in this and "Jezebel" she wasn't anything worth gushing over, I assure you. In fact, there were no standout members of the cast here, if you ask me. I guess Claude Rains was pretty good, but he wasn't in the film enough to make any sort of an impact on the quality of the endgame. I'm going to quit now. I didn't like it and I think that's clear by now.

RATING: 2.5/10  I'm really not sure why it's a '2.5" and not a '1', but a '1' seems too harsh and apparently I've gotten a little soft in my old age, so be it.


May 10, 2012  10:25pm

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