Boston heiress Charlotte Vale (Bette Davis) is a neurotic mess, largely because of her domineering mother (Gladys Cooper). She is sent to a sanatorium where she is rejuvenated and made to feel her worth by Dr Jasquith (Claude Rains). Charlotte comes out of her shell and "abandons" her Mother to go on a cruise, desperate to break free of those tight reins. Aboard ship she meets Jerry (Paul Henreid) and falls in love, despite his being married, albeit unhappily.
Because of the success of Now Voyager, the golden triangle of Bette Davis, Paul Henreid and Claude Rains was reformed for another film, Deception (1946), which I will review some time in the future.
Just a note about Claude Rains who always gave his leading roles something that other actors could not. A quote from a fan 'Plus, any man who can hold his own and give it back to Bette Davis (in four films) vs. just taking up space (George Brent, at times) deserves the utmost respect."
Just out of interest, those four films are Juarez (1939), Now Voyager (1942), Mr Skeffington (1944) and Deception (1946).
Not to trivialise Rains performances but Now Voyager and Deception were always about Bette Davis, who Hollywood dubbed the greatest actor of all time, Bernhardt aside.
But this film is on my replay list because of the incredible script and the supporting cast. Director Irving Rapper was renowned for his script direction as well.
Gladys Cooper, the actor who played Bette's dominating Mother, was nominated but failed to win the Oscar for her performance. Bonita Granville (June) had already won an Oscar in 1923 for "These Three". Paul Henreid studied Acting under, none other than, Otto Preminger. Claude Rains, the King of Hollywood, was nominated four times for Best Actor in a Supporting Role but failed to win. He was awarded a spot on Hollywood's Walk of Fame in 1960.
So, what exactly am I doing condoning a film where a woman is with a married man? Due mainly to the fact that that is not exactly what happens.
Although Charlotte and Jerry's love is unrequited it is definitely love that it is (Blanc Mange). He brings Charlotte further out of her shell and she blossoms into being one of the most popular people on the Ship.
Jerry's in an unhappy marriage which is not just a cliche as his daughter, Tina, is being used as a prize if he stays with his manipulative, jealous wife. Eventually, 12-year-old Tina is sent to visit Dr Jasquith and by chance Charlotte meets her, with a little help from Jasquith.
The two become good friends, to the point where Tina goes to live with Charlotte. She tells Jerry that she sees Tina as his gift to her and her way of being close to him.
Ah, take that and the double cigarette lighting thing Henreid does all the way through the film and you have a blockbuster.