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The Old Maid (1939)

 -  Drama  -  2 September 1939 (USA)
7.8
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 1,908 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

Humphrey Bogart was originally cast as the male lead, but dismissed after four days' filming. 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 »


Soundtracks

The Wedding March
(1843) (uncredited)
from "A Midsummer Night's Dream, Op.61"
Music by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
Played as background music after Dee's Wedding
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Superb melodrama
4 November 2012 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins shine in this Warner Bros. melodrama, "The Old Maid" released in 1939, a banner year for Davis at the studio. This was one of four very fine films she did that year, making her the reigning queen of the studio. In this one, Davis and Hopkins are cousins in the 1800's. Hopkins rejects her beau (George Brent) to marry into a wealthy family, the Ralstons. Davis has the hots for Brent (one of her frequent co-stars during this period) and gets pregnant with his baby. However, he goes off to fight the Civil War and is killed. At a time when being an unwed mother was not an option, Davis agrees to move in with Hopkins, now a widow with two children of her own. The child, Tina (Jane Bryan) grows up knowing she is a foundling, but always calls Hopkins "mummy." Davis does not let on she is Tina's mother, but rather an aunt; this fills her with resentment, and into a bitter old maid, hence the title of the picture.

The movie is pure soap opera, for sure, but the interplay between Davis and Hopkins is fascinating to watch. Davis has the showier part, but Hopkins more than holds her own. Off screen, Davis had an affair with Hopkin's husband, director Anatole Litvak, and now the two had to star together in a film! One can only imagine what went on between them on the set of this, but both give fine performances. Even Davis herself, much later in life, stated Hopkins was a superb actress and she always had to be on her toes as her co-star. There are some fine supporting performances, notably from Jane Bryan as Tina and the always under-rated Donald Crisp as a friend of the family and doctor. But this is Hopkins and Davis' show, and they do not disappoint.


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