To Seek and Find: David and Cameron Discuss Now, Voyager (for Parterre Box)

Cameron Kelsall: David, I suspect most people know the famous last line of Now, Voyager even if they’ve never seen the movie. And in a way, that classic utterance nicely sums up my feelings toward the film. Sure, it’s melodramatic and overwrought, shamelessly weepy at times, and a bit too eager to engage with then-faddish ideas related to psychoanalysis. Some of the characters seem comically stereotypical. Yet it also features a landmark Bette Davis performance—just one in the remarkable series of home runs she achieved in the late ‘30s and early ‘40s—who has genuine chemistry with her leading man, Paul Henreid. The great British beauty Gladys Cooper makes her breakout screen appearance (at 55!) as Davis’ forbidding mother. And the costumes! I think I swooned every time there was a full-body pan of every delicious evening gown and exquisitely tailored suit. In this case, the sum of its parts is greater than the whole. Don’t let’s ask for the moon when we have the stars—know what I mean?

David Fox: I know just what you mean, Cameron. In my mind, I also began with the ending. Those last few moments of the film are among the more famous in cinematic history. Of course, there’s that famous moon and stars line, which simultaneously suggests the painful compromise these two characters have sensibly, if shatteringly, agreed to accept, and the ecstasy they truly feel. And then there’s the camera sweeping away from them, to the tree, to the sky. But the frisson kicks in even earlier, with Henreid putting two cigarettes in his mouth, lighting them, and handing one to Bette. Did 1940s film ever produce a more sexually charged moment than that? I think not…

Click here to read the full post at Parterre Box.

Categories: Criticism, Movies, PARTERRE BOX

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