Monday, April 14, 2008


The next installment in my Bette Davis phase is Now, Voyager, an excellent film about an incredibly ugly spinster named Charlotte who goes to the loony bin, gets a makeover (thank heavens!), falls in love with a married man on a cruise, defies her overbearing mother, and eventually becomes the confident, lovely woman she was meant to be (cue inspirational music)! It’s quite the uplifting story without being too corny, though I’m not really sure the ending left me completely satisfied. But nevertheless, you’re pulling for poor Charlotte throughout the film, and she doesn’t disappoint.
This is considered one of Bette Davis’s best movies, and I have to say it’s probably my favorite so far. She was nominated for a best actress Oscar, but lost to Greer Garson for Mrs. Miniver. I’m a little disappointed that Bette didn’t win anything for this movie considering how terribly ugly she had to look in the beginning of the film. Now let’s be honest, Bette is a little strange looking to begin with. So intentionally uglifying her is near painful. She had some guts. The eyebrows. They haunt me.

In other movies where Bette Davis plays a character named Charlotte, last month I watched Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte. This provided many jokes while watching Now, Voyager, given the same name thing. Anyway, in Sweet Charlotte, Bette again plays a crazy person who falls in love with a married man, but this time she’s old and lives with her crazy maid in a huge old house that is going to be torn down to make room for a new highway.
Many years earlier (when she was young and not as crazy), Charlotte had plans to run off with her married boyfriend. Shortly after discussing their plans he was brutally murdered, sending Charlotte into a black hole of insanity. The movie picks up years later when she’s old and crazy (and screams a lot!), and is wondering, along with the rest of the town, who killed her former married boyfriend. In the meantime, she refuses to move out of her house and causes much trouble for the local government types who are trying to tear it down, so they bring in Charlotte’s younger cousin, Miriam, to take care of things. Craziness ensues as Miriam has other plans that don’t so much involve getting Charlotte to move out of the house as they do making Charlotte just go completely crazy. It’s basically an insane movie and Bette Davis is a little weird in it, to say the least. I’m not sure I’ll watch it again, but it had some interesting twists and some disturbing moments if you like that kind of thing.

So if you’re trying to decide between the two, Now, Voyager is certainly the more legit, quality film. But if you’re up for some screaming, crazy, old Bette Davis action (who isn’t now and then?), you might want to check out Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte.

1 comment:

Jessica said...

Bette Davis really has been in a lot of crazy movies, hasn't she... I think I'm going to have to check out some of the really early ones to see what they're like.