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The Old Maid (1939)

Approved  |   |  Drama  |  2 September 1939 (USA)
7.8
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 2,063 users  
Reviews: 31 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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Writers:

(screen play), (based on the play by: Pulitzer Prize), 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
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

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

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

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 »

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

Soundtracks

Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair
(1854) (uncredited)
Music by Stephen Foster
Played as background music when Joe breaks off with Charlotte
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Warner Major Feature
1 April 1999 | by (Cleveland, Ohio USA) – See all my reviews

With Warner Bros. studio chief Jack L. Warner himself in charge of the production, "The Old Maid" is a fine example of what that studio's "stock company" was able to produce in the late '30s and early '40s. Here is Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins, assisted by George Brent and Donald Crisp acting up a storm a very soapy piece of melodrama, and making it all very engrossing. Based on Zoe Akins' Pulitzer Prize play and Edith Wharton's novel, this drama of sacrifice, deception, and raging emotions is given a superlative treatment by this impressive company. The film even has the services of Max Steiner's score, underlying every scene with original and adapted source material. Edmund Goulding's direction is sure-footed and he has managed to curb histrionic accesses of the two stars nicely; their acting is quite restrained, yet powerful. Whatever sparks flew between the two ladies off-screen may be justified by what on-screen legacy is left for all to appreciate. Further, the drama depicts the limited and restrictive social/class mores of the period, undoubtedly imported from strict European values.


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