Now, Voyager (1942)

Directed by Irving Rapper

Here’s a movie that caught me by surprise. It’s another one of those films I went into with little or no expectations. In fact, if anything, I expected it to be a dud. (I had seen a number of older, black and white turkeys recently.)

Now, Voyager was wonderful.

First of all, I was amazed at the quality of the transfer. This Warner Brothers disc has a clean and crisp image, far above the quality many older movies have.

The sound, as well, is pretty good though it is, of course, mono and the dynamic range is limited due to the era the film was made in.

As for the movie itself, it was very entertaining. It’s a melodrama; kind of a soap opera. But within this context, it succeeds. If I had to compare it to another film I would say it’s a bit like Casablanca, though I wouldn’t take the comparison too far.

Where it’s similar is in the treatment of the love story, which is at the heart of both movies. (Another similarity are the two actors Paul Henreid and Claude Rains who appear in both films.)

Claude Rains is great in this movie playing a character he’s played before, though the context is a bit different here. In Now, Voyager he plays a fatherly role; he’s a kind of moral touchstone in the film.

Bette Davis, who stars in the movie, is also good though her dowdy appearance at the beginning of the film is a bit extreme (and foreshadows some later roles she would play where she takes on a less than flattering appearance for the sake of a role.) It’s also interesting seeing her playing a softer character and comparing it to other roles where she played women who were tough as nails.

The one area where the film sags a bit is about two-thirds in where the story tries to establish and solidify the romantic relationship. The film runs out of gas a bit here but quickly refuels and heads into the finish.

Overall, this is very good movie, as soap operas go. It’s a highly romantic love story, the kind Hollywood of the 1940’s did very well. If you hate that kind of movie, you’ll hate Now Voyager. On the other hand, if you love this kind of movie you’ll likely love this movie.

I don’t think this is the kind of movie that allows for much middle ground.

(Note: this movie is available individually on DVD and also as part of The Bette Davis Collection, Vol. 1.)

On Amazon:

1 Response

Leave a Reply