Film / Now, Voyager

What man is suitable, doctor? She's never found one. What man would ever look at me and say, 'I want you.'? I'm fat. My mother doesn't approve of dieting. Look at my shoes. My mother approves of sensible shoes. Look at the books on my shelves. My mother approves of good solid books. I'm my mother's well-loved daughter. I'm her companion. I am my mother's servant. My mother says! My mother. My mother! MY MOTHER!

Oscar-winning 1942 film starring Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, and Claude Rains. A romantic weepie, Now, Voyager is probably a perfect example of the 'woman's film' of the 40s.

Bette Davis plays Charlotte Vale, a repressed Boston spinster whose tyrannical mother has driven her to the edge of nervous breakdown. Lisa, Charlotte's well-intentioned sister-in-law, feels something must be done. Enter the renowned Dr Jaquith (Rains), who takes her to his sanitarium to begin her transformation. Part of her healing involves a South American cruise, where she meets the charming Jerry...

This classic Hollywood melodrama was well-received at the time, and is seen as one of Davis' definitive films. The scene where Jerry lights two cigarettes and hands one to Charlotte became famous as a subtle way of implying an intimate relationship. The three stars reunited later for Deception.


  • Abusive Parents: Both Tina and Charlotte's respective mothers fit this role. This helps Charlotte understand and help Tina.
  • ...And That Little Girl Was Me: How Charlotte tells Tina about her difficult past.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Leading to one of the most famous lines in film history.
    Charlotte: Oh, Jerry, don't let's ask for the moon. We have the stars.
  • Butt Monkey: Charlotte's status at the beginning of the film. Her niece's teasing leads to this outburst:
    Charlotte: Go on, torture me. Go on, torture me. You like making fun of me, don't you? You think it's fun making fun of me, don't you?
  • Chick Flick: One of the most famous examples from The Forties.
  • Disposable FiancÚ: Charlotte gets engaged to a handsome suitor after coming back to Boston, but she doesn't love him, so she calls it quits.
  • Driven to Madness: Charlotte is here when the film begins. Her mother might not have done this deliberately, but as Dr Jaquith tells her
    Jaquith: My dear Mrs. Vale, if you had deliberately and maliciously planned to destroy your daughter's life, you couldn't have done it more completely.
  • The Glasses Gotta Go: Dr Jaquith takes Charlotte's glasses off her nose and snaps them in two.
  • Grand Staircase Entrance: Played with once, when Charlotte is dowdy and overweight, played straight the second time, after The Makeover.
  • Literary Allusion Title / Title Drop: The title is a quote from a Walt Whitman poem, which Dr. Jacquith reads and then gives to Charlotte.
  • The Makeover: Charlotte is first introduced to us feet-first, walking down the stairs. The camera pans up. We see sensible shoes, fat ankles, thick tights and a dowdy dress. After her makeover, she is re-introduced to us in the same way. This time, we see fashionable high-heels, trim ankles, stockings, and a tailored suit. It is played with a little, though, as Charlotte is still shown to be mentally fragile under her sophisticated new look.
  • The Mistress: Charlotte is Jerry's. Treating adultery as sympathetic was unusual for a movie made in The Forties.
  • My Beloved Smother: A particularly malign example. Charlotte's domineering mother seems to take pleasure in tormenting her.
  • Not Afraid of You Anymore: Charlotte says this to her mother after coming home from her cruise and her romance with Jerry.
  • Parental Substitute: Charlotte takes on this role. It fulfils a lot of psychological needs for all parties concerned.
  • Pretty in Mink: Charlotte's new glamours wardrobe includes a mink coat.
  • Purely Aesthetic Glasses: Part of Mom's attempt to make Charlotte as frumpy as possible is forcing her to wear glasses she doesn't really need.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Charlotte after she gets rid of the frumpy look.
  • The Shrink: Dr Jaquith, who runs a retreat for rich people suffering from depression.
  • Smoking Is Cool: The movie's most famous scene features Jerry and Charlotte lighting each other's cigarettes.
  • Staircase Tumble: The malevolent Mrs Vale pulls a tumble deliberately to guilt Charlotte.
  • There Is Only One Bed: Jerry and Charlotte end up in a variation of this situation in Rio, when they get put in the same cabin of a cruise ship.
  • Train-Station Goodbye: Jerry and Charlotte have one after their reunion in Boston.
  • Troubled Child: Tina, who has similar neuroses to Charlotte due to being raised in a similar household.