The title "Now Voyager" is from two poems by Walt Whitman, The poem that is referred to in the movie, reads, "The untold want by life and land ne'er granted, Now, Voyager sail thou forth, to seek and find." "Now finale to the shore! Now, land and life, finale, and farewell! Now Voyager depart! (much, much for thee is yet in store)."
These lines are particularly apt as they apply to Charlotte's life journey as she casts off the shackles of her domineering, controlling elderly mother, Mrs. Henry Windle Vale (Gladys Cooper) to chart a new course for herself. Her physical makeover, her therapeutic sea voyage, and her steamy love affair with Jerry Durrance, (Paul Henreid) the man of her dreams, eventually turns her into a totally new person.
We first meet Charlotte when she is fat, graying, and bushy eye-browed. She seems to have been relegated to the life of a wizened old spinster. Charlotte has lived her entire life under the thumb her authoritarian, disreputable mother, a mother we're told never wanted Charlotte in the first place. Mrs. Henry Windle Vale expects only the most proper decorum and devotion from her daughter, spurning any kind of frivolity or merriment.
Soon the poor Charlotte has a nervous breakdown, so on the advice of her plucky sister she visits the country retreat of the kindly Dr. Jarquith (Claude Rains), a renowned psychiatrist, for a few months' therapy. At the suggestion of Dr. Jarquith, Charlotte effects a complete physical makeover, losing weight, dying her hair, dressing more smartly, and even plucking her eyebrows.
Then, heeding Whitman's advice, she voyages forth on a cruise to Rio, where on board she meets Jerry Durrance, a handsome, charming, debonair architect. Jerry is trapped in an unhappy marriage, but this hardly worries Charlotte, as she falls in love with him anyway. In one instance she says to him," I knew what I was getting into."
Charlotte eventually returns to Boston a glamorous sophisticate, complete with new wardrobe, hairstyle and most importantly a new attitude. Durrance has given her the fortitude to finally stand on her own to feet as an independent woman, but more significantly he has given her the strength to stand up to her vituperative mother. Over the months Charlotte retains strong feelings for Jerry, and how they navigate this un-chartered territory serves as the resolution to this evocative story.
There's so much to admire in this film. There's the fine love story, which cleverly avoids clichéd sentiment, the miraculous transformation of Charlotte into a cosmopolitan, world-wise woman, and then there is Max Steiner's gorgeously redolent music score, for which he won and Oscar.
But it is Davis's cleverly nuanced acting, which holds this film together. Whether she's shaking with hysteria and fear as she frantically pores the tea in front of her Mother, or quietly giving motherly advice to a frightened little girl, Davis totally inhabits her character and gives one of the best performances of her long and distinguished career.
Now Voyager remains an unabashed classic soap opera, a marvelously executed morality tale that unadulteratingly swoons and entertains. It's all about how social propriety can get in the way of true love, and how feminine self-empowerment can do wonders for one's self-esteem, confidence and sense of self-worth. Mike Leonard June 05.
This product's forum
Active discussions in related forums
Search Customer Discussions