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The Old Maid (1939)

 -  Drama  -  2 September 1939 (USA)
7.8
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 1,907 users  
Reviews: 30 user | 9 critic

The arrival of an ex-lover on a young woman's wedding day sets in motion a chain of events which will alter her and her cousin's lives forever.

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(screen play), (based on the play by: Pulitzer Prize), 1 more credit »
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Title: The Old Maid (1939)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Delia Lovell
George Brent ...
Clem Spender
...
...
Tina
...
Dora
James Stephenson ...
Jim Ralston
Jerome Cowan ...
Joe Ralston
William Lundigan ...
Lanning Halsey
Cecilia Loftus ...
Grandmother Lovell
...
Jim
Janet Shaw ...
Dee
...
John (as DeWolf Hopper)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Rod Cameron ...
(scenes deleted)
Raymond Rayhill Powell
Edit

Storyline

Delia marries Jim, not Joe After Delia breaks her engagement to Clem and marries Jim, Clem promises to marry Delia's cousin Charlotte, but he dies at the battle of Vicksburg leaving Charlotte an unwed mother. She and her daughter Tina, presumably an orphan, move in with Delia who legally adopts the girl. Charlotte watches her daughter grow up and get married, never able to claim her as her own. CORRECTION; Delia breaks her engagement to Clem, in favor of wealthy Jim. Cousin Charlotte comforts Clem, and becomes pregnant. Clem dies in the war before he can marry her, and Charlotte raises her daughter as a "foundling." When Jim's brother, Joe, falls in love with Charlotte, Delia, out of spiteful jealousy, destroys the forthcoming wedding, and eventually takes Charlotte's child from her. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Vividly, unforgettably, a woman's love starved soul is revealed. All those strange secrets she locks in her heart ... moments of rapture and of heartbreak ... longings that no man can fathom. Of these has the year's finest picture been woven!

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

2 September 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Velha Ama  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The 1935 Pulitzer Prize-winning play opened at the Empire Theatre in New York on Jan. 7, 1935 and ran for 305 performances. The leads were played by Judith Anderson and Helen Menken. Marjorie Lord, who later gained fame as the wife of Danny Thomas on TV's Make Room for Daddy (1953), was a replacement cast member in a supporting role. Producer-Director Ernst Lubitsch bought the rights to the play, intending to star both Judith Anderson and Helen Menken in a Paramount production, but he sold the rights to Warner Bros. in Jan. 1939. See more »

Goofs

The scene where Delia has come to the orphanage to speak with Charlotte, we can see Charlotte's sleeves change from rolled up to down several times within the shot. See more »

Quotes

Charlotte Lovell: She thinks I can't understand her. She considers me an old maid.
Delia Lovell Ralston: My dear.
Charlotte Lovell: A ridiculous, narrow-minded old maid. What else can she ever think of me?
Delia Lovell Ralston: Poor Charlotte.
Charlotte Lovell: Oh, but you needn't pity me. Because she's really mine. If she considers me an old maid, it's because I've deliberately made myself one in her eyes. I've done it from the beginning so she wouldn't have the least suspicion. I've practised everything I've ever had to say to her, if it was important, so that I'd sound like an old maid ...
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening credits are shown on facsimiles of wedding invitation cards. See more »

Connections

Featured in Rich in Love (1992) See more »

Soundtracks

Yankee Doodle
(uncredited)
Traditional 18th century tune
Played in the score for the first scene
See more »

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User Reviews

Best of Warner's Era Films Not Directed by William Wyler

Everyone who is a fan of Davis' knows that William Wyler (director of Jezebel, the Letter, and the Little Foxes) was Davis' "best" director because he could put her in her place and control her, forcing her to not over-act and use too many bits of business and gestures, etc to distract. Davis did not need mannerisms to get emotion across on screen and Wyler seemed to be able to tell her how to control that; she learned from him, for after Jezebel in 1938, she very rarely acted in a manner displaying lack of control that matched her pre-Jezebel career.

The Old Maid was directed by Edmund Goulding; I don't know much about him except that was considered a "women's film" director and was respected as a talented one. In any event, the Old Maid is the best of Davis' four 1939 films. which include Dark Victory, Juarez, and the Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex.

In the Old Maid, Davis with the help of Mr Goulding delivers a restrained yet compellingly provocative performance; the film spans a twenty year time period, beginning in 1861 or so with a young Davis ministering to her cousin Delia (played by the talented but very difficult Miriam Hopkins.) Although Miriam does her best to steal each scene from Davis, she never succeeds. Bette Davis is superb in this film; so much so that it really remains one of the few undated movies from the 1930s. True star quality is related to being able to connect with an audience over years and years of time. Ms. Davis certainly has this ability - never better displayed than in the Old Maid.

Favorite scenes: Charlotte (Davis' character) wedding preparation and Delia's subsequent lie - along with the next scene that takes place when Davis realizes that Hopkins' character has lied and ruined her life - watch Davis' face as she utters "it was wicked of you" to Hopkins- (who, by the way delivers a disappointing response.) Now that's star-quality acting!


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Whom Clem loved--was Charlotte right? roseytrebles
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Better Than Dark Victory IMHO rockwell_lancer
most and least favorite scenes blueeyedbear
Funny sound glitch beamsamuel1
The whole story in Bette Davis's face.... beseelisa2
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