The Old Maid (1939)

Approved  |   |  Drama  |  2 September 1939 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 2,190 users  
Reviews: 33 user | 10 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.



(screen play), (based on the play by: Pulitzer Prize), 1 more credit »
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Complete credited cast:
George Brent ...
Clem Spender
Jim Ralston
Jerome Cowan ...
Joe Ralston
William Lundigan ...
Lanning Halsey
Cecilia Loftus ...
Grandmother Lovell
Janet Shaw ...
John (as DeWolf Hopper)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Rod Cameron ...
(scenes deleted)
Raymond Rayhill Powell


After a two-year absence, Clem Spender returns home on the very day that his former fiancée, Delia, is marrying another man. Clem enlists in the Union army and dies on the battlefield, but not before finding comfort in the arms of Delia's cousin, Charlotte Lovell. The years pass and Charlotte establishes an orphanage and eventually confesses to Delia that her dearest young charge, Tina, is an fact her own child by Clem. Jealousy and family secrets threaten to tear the cousins apart. Written by L. Hamre

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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!




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Release Date:

2 September 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Velha Ama  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


There was a lot of bad blood between Miriam Hopkins and Bette Davis. Davis had won an Oscar For "Jezebel", a role that Hopkins had played on Broadway and had expected to play in the movie. To make things worse, Davis had had an affair with Anatole Litvak, Hopkins' husband, while making "The Sisters". See more »


When Dee is married, the invitation states the year as 1884. Later, when Tina is to marry, the announcement reads 1881 - three years earlier. See more »


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 »


Featured in Stardust: The Bette Davis Story (2006) See more »


Bridal Chorus (Here Comes the Bride)
(1850) (uncredited)
from "Lohengrin"
Music by Richard Wagner
Played as background music and hummed by Bette Davis
Reprised at Delia's weddimg and on a music box before Dee's wedding
See more »

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User Reviews

Irresistible Tosh
11 December 2005 | by (Derry, Ireland) – See all my reviews

One of Bette Davis' best films and a great weepie; an unashamed Victorian melodrama but made with great panache and played with all the stops out. When Miriam Hopkins jilts her financee George Brent, cousin Bette gives herself to him and gets pregnant. When Brent goes off and gets himself killed Davis disappears out West so she can have the baby, raise her as an orphan and save what vestige of honour she has left. Years later, when Hopkins discovers the truth, she takes the child to be raised as her own while Davis lurks on the sidelines as old maid Aunt Charlotte. (This is the movie in which Davis gets to utter the immortal lines on her daughter's wedding night, 'Tonight she belongs to me. Tonight I want her to call ME mother!'). The film has a good pedigree. The original play won the Pulitzer Prize and was based in turn on an Edith Wharton novel. Tosh it may well be, but it is irresistible.

10 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Whom Clem loved--was Charlotte right? roseytrebles
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