Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Now, Voyager (1942)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Now, Voyager (1942)

In director Irving Rapper's great romantic tearjerker about liberation from repressive, matriarchal domination:

  • the opening scenes set in an upper-class area of Boston: misfit, neurotic, repressed ugly duckling spinster-heiress Charlotte Vale (Bette Davis), who lived with her tyrannical, tormenting and domineering mother Mrs. Vale (Dame Gladys Cooper) in a mansion
  • the beginnings of Charlotte's therapy with New York psychiatrist Dr. Jaquith (Claude Rains), who was invited to the Vale home by Mrs. Vale's concerned, kindly, sophisticated sister-in-law Lisa Vale (Ilka Chase); Charlotte appeared in unflattering clothing and acted nervously as she entered the home's living room; he also spoke to Charlotte in her third floor retreat - a locked room; there, with a wild look from her eyes, she flipped before him the pages of a scrapbook or old photo album that chronicled her past when she was young - and in love - and suffered a shattered romance

Charlotte's Scrapbook of a Lost Life

"I am my mother's servant"

Charlotte's Nervous Breakdown
  • Charlotte's bemoaning of her entirely-aborted life: "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!"
  • after running from the living room with a nervous breakdown, Charlotte was invited to attend Jaquith's Vermont sanitarium known as Cascade; before returning home, Jaquith sent his recuperated patient forth on a long ocean voyage, urged by Lisa's suggestion and a typed up Walt Whitman poem: 'Untold Want, By Life and Land Ne'er Granted, Now, Voyager, Sail Thou Forth to Seek and Find'
  • the first major transformation of Charlotte, seen on an ocean cruise, from a dowdy, 30-ish aging female to a vibrant beauty

Vibrant Beauty - On Ocean Cruise

'Jerry' D. Durrance
(Paul Henreid)

First Cigarette Lighting
  • during a shore trip, her introduction to handsome and suave European, Jeremiah 'Jerry' D. Durrance (Paul Henreid); while dining together on an outdoor patio, in the first of many cigarette lightings in the film, Charlotte was impressed that he graciously lit her cigarette that she held to her mouth
  • the sequence in Rio when Jerry and Charlotte hired a car and driver for sightseeing, but their vehicle ran off a windy, mountainous road, and the stranded couple were forced to seek overnight shelter in an abandoned cabin during a rainstorm (they kissed and presumably had sex after the fade-out); afterwards, as they began to fall in love, seen in a travelogue montage, they spent five amorous days together in Rio - sight-seeing, eating in restaurants, and dancing
  • the balcony scene in Rio when Jerry for the first time lit two cigarettes simultaneously and gave one to Charlotte, who confessed: "I'm immune to happiness," but then shed tears of gratitude (she admitted: "I'm such a fool, such an old fool. These are only tears of gratitude - an old maid's gratitude for the crumbs offered...")
Rio Balcony Scene
Two Cigarette Trick - First Instance
Charlotte: "I'm Immune to Happiness"
"I'm such a fool, such an old fool. These are only tears of gratitude"
  • their goodbye scene in South America at the airport - the two believed that they might never see each other again (Charlotte: "I hate goodbyes") - knowing that Jerry was lovelessly married to a dependent Isabel and wouldn't leave her; in the scene, Jerry lit two more cigarettes and passed one to Charlotte and then told her: "Would it help you to know I'll miss you every moment?" - she replied: "So will I, Jerry, so will I" before a few parting kisses
  • the sequence of Charlotte's return to Boston for a dramatic confrontation with her waiting, tight-lipped, tyranically-hostile, disdainful mother, who wished to reestablish control over her daughter; although changed, Charlotte was still ridiculed and victimized, but this time, she asserted her independence: "I've come home to live with you again here in the same house. But it can't be in the same way. I've been living my own life, making my own decisions for a long while now. It's impossible to go back to being treated like a child again. I don't think I'll do anything of importance that will displease you, but Mother, from now on, you must give me complete freedom, including deciding what I wear, where I sleep, what I read"
  • once she again encountered Jerry in Boston, Charlotte realized that she was still in love with him, although she had another suitor, attractive widower and eminent, wealthy Bostonian Elliot Livingston (John Loder) and they were engaged; however, she remained uncertain, indecisive and uncommitted to Elliot
  • in a sensitive scene, she met with Jerry at the Back Bay Station as he prepared to board a train, and honestly confessed: "I thought I was getting over you, Jerry"; shortly later, she broke off the engagement with Elliot, realizing that she could only be happy with someone she was passionately in love with ("You ought to marry someone who would enjoy what you enjoy. Let's not linger over it, Elliot. (Elliot: "Well, I-I suppose you'll meet somebody sometime.") No, I don't think I'll ever marry. Some women just aren't the marrying kind. But you'll meet someone. Thank you for thinking it was me. I have that on my record anyway"); after she courteously said goodbye to him, to her inner self, in voice-over, she lamented the loss of a marriage prospect as she climbed her stairs: "It's like the time when my father died. His breathing just stopped. All over. Finished. Ended forever. You fool, oh you fool! Now you'll never have a home of your own, or a man of your own, or a child of your own"
  • the scene of a bitter quarrel with her mother after informing her of the breakup with Elliot; her mother was cruelly incensed: "You've never done anything to make your mother proud, or to make yourself proud either. Why, I should think you'd be ashamed to be born and live all your life as Charlotte Vale. Miss Charlotte Vale"; when Charlotte disowned her mother ( If that's a mother's love, I want no part of it") - her independent actions contributed to her mother's fatal stroke and heart attack in her chair while Charlotte was on the other side of the room; afterwards, Charlotte blamed herself and suffered from deep feelings of guilt and insecurity - and experienced a relapse
  • at the sanitarium, Charlotte met and befriended Jerry's twelve year-old daughter Christine ("Tina") (Janis Wilson), a shy, braces-wearing, paranoid, depressed and withdrawn young girl who had been at the sanitarium for almost two weeks - a kindred spirit; Charlotte restored her own condition by identifying with and growing close to Tina, becoming her adoptive mother and therapeutic counselor
  • although Charlotte knew that Jerry would never leave his legal wife, Charlotte had found something far happier and more enduring in their present platonic arrangement - with his 12 year-old daughter Tina as "their" newly-restored, changed child
  • the final famous tearjerking scene between them, including his cool question: "Shall we just have a cigarette on it?" - symbolizing his assent that Tina would be in Charlotte's charge; again, Jerry lit two cigarettes, as Charlotte delivered the final closing line; she gratefully looked up at the night sky while Max Steiner's score swelled, realizing that she would be happy taking care of Tina - "Oh, Jerry, don't let's ask for the moon...we have the stars"
Tearjerking Conclusion
"Shall we just have a cigarette on it?"
Intimate Sharing of Cigarette
"Oh, Jerry, don't let's ask for the moon...we have the stars"

'Ugly Duckling' Charlotte Vale (Bette Davis)

Stern Mrs. Vale

Dr. Jaquith (Claude Rains)

Walt Whitman Poem: "Now, Voyager..."

Stranded Overnight - First Kiss

Travelogue Montage in Rio in South America

Goodbye at Rio Airport - Two More Cigarettes and Kisses

Charlotte's First Confrontation with Her Mother: "You must give me complete freedom"

Back Bay Station Meeting: "I thought I was getting over you, Jerry"

Breaking Engagement with Elliot: "I don't think I'll ever marry"

Quarrel with Mother - and The Deadly Stroke

Charlotte's Motherly Love for Tina


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