Harold and I watched a wonderful, old classic movie last night. Neither of us had ever heard of it. Released in 1942 the film is best described as a romantic melodrama, but a very good one. It was voted #23 of AFI’s Top 100 Romantic Films of All Time.
Bette Davis does a wonderful job of acting. Initially, she plays the un-glamorous late-born, baby sister Charlotte Vail, who is dowdy, overweight and frustrated by a domineering high-society mother, who is more like a grandmother than a mother. Claude Rains plays the psychiatrist who comes to her rescue, and the good-looking Paul Heinreid plays the romantic stranger.
The plot begins simple enough. Charlotte’s kind sister-in-law worries that Charlotte is unwell and moving toward a nervous breakdown, and she asks a psychiatrist to help. He sees Charlotte as repressed and then works to help her transform into a modern woman, with the strength and confidence to free herself from her repressive mother.
It is on a cruise where she spends time alone, blossoms into the glamorous socialite that she becomes, and meets a romantic stranger. What happens from there is a seesaw of emotions, especially when she moves back home with her domineering mother.
The title of the movie and book was taken from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.
The Untold Want
By Life and Land Ne’er Granted
Sail Thou Forth to Seek and Find
Directed by Irving Rapper, the movie’s screenplay was based on the novel of the same name by Olive Higgins Prouty. The film was nominated for a total of three Academy Awards, including Best Actress (Bette Davis) and Best Supporting Actress (Gladys Cooper), with Max Steiner’s nomination for musical score as the sole win (his second Oscar). Bette Davis’s cruise wardrobe and gowns are best described as timeless glamour.
Without giving away the story, their relationship becomes a romantically-complicated love, as evidenced by the film’s last stirring line of romantic dialogue: “Oh Jerry, don’t let’s ask for the moon. We have the stars.” A line made immortal to its movie goers.
Harold and I both loved it; but then again, lately, one of Harold’s favorite lines is, “Gosh, Ann, you’re turning me into a chick!”
Have any of you ever heard about this film? What other romantic classics would you suggest?