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The Old Maid (1939)

Approved | | Drama | 2 September 1939 (USA)
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.

Director:

Writers:

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

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Clem Spender
...
...
Tina
...
Dora
...
Jim Ralston
...
Joe Ralston
...
Lanning Halsey
Cecilia Loftus ...
Grandmother Lovell
...
Jim
...
Dee
...
John (as DeWolf Hopper)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
...
(scenes deleted)
Raymond Rayhill Powell
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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
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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 »

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

 
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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