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The Old Maid (1939)

 -  Drama  -  2 September 1939 (USA)
7.8
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 1,867 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

To get the effects of aging, Bette Davis didn't wear any eye makeup or lipstick, and makeup artist Perc Westmore used a pale, ashen base on her face. 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

(I Wish I Was in) Dixie's Land
(1860) (uncredited)
Written by Daniel Decatur Emmett
Variation in the score when Clem leaves
See more »

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User Reviews

Extremely Strong Performances
29 August 2009 | by (Louisville, KY) – See all my reviews

Old Maid, The (1939)

*** (out of 4)

Exceptional version of the Pultzer Prize winning play has Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins making for more high-class Warner drama. In the film, Davis gets pregnant by her cousin's (Hopkins) old flame (George Brent) so instead of facing public scorn, she opens a home for children where she raises the daughter as a stranger. A few years later after the death of Hopkins' husband, she tells the girl that she's her mother while her real mother takes a place in the background and grows to be an old maid while watching her child grow up not knowing who she is. I really wasn't sure what to expect out of this film, which seems to have been partially forgotten but perhaps this is due to it being released in 1939, a year with countless great films and not to mention Davis being in three other highly popular films in DARK VICTORY, JUAREZ and THE PRIVATE LIVES OF ELIZABETH AND ESSEX. This film perfectly blends the drama and makes for a very entertaining film even though some of the subject matter might hit new viewers as being old-fashioned but one much remember when this film takes place. What I enjoyed most about the movie is that many scripts would have fallen into a good guy/bad guy range. It would have been very easy to make Davis the sad, good girl while painting the Hopkins character as evil but the film isn't that easy. While you can't help but feel sorry for Davis you also can understand why Hopkins wants to protect the kid in her own way. The level of dirtiness that Hopkins sinks to will certainly make people hate her but you can also put some of that to the side when you really think about what's best for the kid. Both Davis and Hopkins turn in excellent performances as both really sink their teeth into the roles. The aging make up effects really don't work but I'm curious if this was because neither actress wanted to be buried under all the make up. George Brent is impressive in his small role as is Donald Crisp as the caring doctor. Considering what all 1939 had going for it, it's easy to see why this film has been overlooked but it's certainly worth checking out and deserve a new group of fans.


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