Bette Davis Movies: Now, Voyager

Now, Voyager showcases Bette Davis' diverse talents
Now, Voyager showcases Bette Davis' diverse talents

I can't help but think of Now, Voyager as one of the original chick flicks. It has all the components that make movies on the modern Lifetime Movie Network so popular: an ugly duckling who turns into an elegant swan, forbidden romance, an oppressive mother who is eventually put in her place and a backdrop of the high-class world of wealth.

But Now, Voyager is worlds away from the chick flicks of today. It set the bar high when it came out in 1942. Part of the reason for that was its star, Bette Davis. Never better, she fully embodied the character of the caterpillar-browed, bespectacled Charlotte Vale who appeared early in the film. Many beautiful actresses have allowed themselves to be made ugly to facilitate scripts, but few have achieved the transformation as well as Bette Davis did for this movie.

Scene from "Now, Voyager"

But looks are only part of the story. Our ugly duckling is so oppressed, you can't help but feel for her. This causes you to root for her right from the start. Her transformation is amazing to watch, because she changes more than just her outsides -- that's the easy part. You actually watch her become a full person as the film moves on. As is often the case in real life, it doesn't come easily. And when a man and his troubled child come along who are struggling, too, their effort to preserve the strip of territory that belongs just to them is believable and compelling.

The realistic way this mutual effort survives against all obstacles is portrayed is what keeps the movie from sinking into being maudlin. You don't actually stand up and cheer at the end; it's more low-key and satisfying than that. Instead, you're left with the quiet feeling that with determination, strength and love; anything is possible.

"Now, Voyager" Trivia

  • The movie title is based on these two lines from the Walt Whitman poem, "The Untold Want" from Songs of Parting: "The untold want, by life and land ne'er granted. Now, Voyager, sail thou forth, to seek and find."
  • Max Steiner and Now, Voyager won the 1943 Oscar for Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture. Bette Davis was nominated for the Best Actress in a Leading Role Oscar, but lost to Greer Garson for Mrs. Miniver. Gladys Cooper was nominated as Best Actress in a Supporting Role but lost to Teresa Wright for Mrs. Miniver.
  • The movie was from the book by Olive Higgins Prouty, which was the third of four books about the wealthy Vale family of Boston.
  • When the movie was released in October 1942, the movie reviews by critics were mixed but the public loved it. In fact, it was the biggest box office hit of Bette Davis's career.
  • Director Hal B. Wallis made five other films besides Now, Voyager in 1942: Casablanca, Air Force, Desperate Journey, Princess O'Rourke and Watch on the Rhine.

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Comments 13 comments

Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

I just love some of the oldies

Great HUB

regards Zsuzsy


WordPlay profile image

WordPlay 8 years ago from Georgia, y'all Author

Thanks, Zsuzsy! "Now, Voyager" is my favorite Bette Davis movie (in case you can't tell).


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America

I have actually not seen this one yet, but I saw Dark Victory over Chsitmas. Nice Hub. More, please!


WordPlay profile image

WordPlay 8 years ago from Georgia, y'all Author

Thanks for your kind words, Patty.

Dark Victory is an excellent movie too. Now, Voyager has a happier ending though!


MoralsEthics1960 profile image

MoralsEthics1960 8 years ago from Florida

oldies but goodies always rate high with me.

Today's movies are fake compared to them


WordPlay profile image

WordPlay 8 years ago from Georgia, y'all Author

I like both old and new, but I definitely have a fascination with the black and white ones. There's something poetic about them.


Cris A profile image

Cris A 8 years ago from Manila, Philippines

Oh I love Bette Davis! I simply adore her in this movie, particularly her dramatic transformation from a marmie to a cigarette-wielding socialite!  I actually have a collection of her movies! Miss Davis is a master class! 


WordPlay profile image

WordPlay 8 years ago from Georgia, y'all Author

Thanks for stopping by Cris.

I agree with you about BD's transformation in this movie. It's very satisfying to watch!


luvtheoldies 6 years ago

I can't believe I found a post about this movie. I thought I was the only fan out there of this movie. I'm a huge Bette Davis fan and love old movies in general. I think because the old movies -- especially black/white movies -- really cause you to focus on the movie plot and lines. As for Now, Voyager...man, I've seen this one about 5 times now and it never gets old!! The love story that develops is A++.


WordPlay profile image

WordPlay 6 years ago from Georgia, y'all Author

I'm glad you enjoy this movie too! It's one of my favorite classic movies, right up there with The Enchanted Garden. If you haven't seen that, you should. It's also a great love story.


albert c 6 years ago

loved the film especially the music, it showed the magic of bette davis.


Carolotta 5 years ago

Bette Davis movies should be shown every night... There is not one current actress who could hold a candle to her. She wasn't beautiful, but she "played" beautiful, and you believed it! Who else could do that? See if you can find "In This Our Life" with Bette and her friend, Olivia DeHavilland. That's another good one.

Try to find "The Enchanted Cottage" with Doroty McGuire and Robert Young - that's another great one.


WordPlay profile image

WordPlay 5 years ago from Georgia, y'all Author

Hi Carolotta. I agree with you about Bette Davis. And I love "The Enchanted Cottage" too. I wrote a review of it a long time ago but forgot to link it from this page. It's now linked in the blue box at the top of the page.

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