7.6/10
3,250
40 user 15 critic

The Old Maid (1939)

Approved | | Drama | 2 September 1939 (USA)
Trailer
2:52 | Trailer
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:

Edmund Goulding

Writers:

Casey Robinson (screen play), Zoe Akins (based on the play by: Pulitzer Prize) | 1 more credit »
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Popularity
2,018 ( 24,527)
1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Bette Davis ... Charlotte Lovell
Miriam Hopkins ... Delia Lovell
George Brent ... Clem Spender
Donald Crisp ... Dr. Lanskell
Jane Bryan ... Tina
Louise Fazenda ... Dora
James Stephenson ... Jim Ralston
Jerome Cowan ... Joe Ralston
William Lundigan ... Lanning Halsey
Cecilia Loftus ... Grandmother Lovell
Rand Brooks ... Jim
Janet Shaw ... Dee
William Hopper ... John (as DeWolf Hopper)
Rod Cameron ... Undetermined Secondary Role (scenes deleted)
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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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Did You Know?

Trivia

On her first day on the set, Hopkins wore an exact duplicate of the dress Davis had worn in Jezebel. Davis reflected on this time with Hopkins in her autobiography with the following observations "Miriam used and, I must give her credit, knew every trick in the book. I became fascinated watching them appear one by one. When she was supposed to be listening to me, her eyes would wander off into some other world in which she was the sweetest of them all. Her restless little spirit was impatiently awaiting her next line, her golden curls quivering with expectancy." See more »

Goofs

Society women such as portrayed here would never have their names printed (on the many invitations and announcements throughout) as "Mrs. Delia ... Mrs. Henrietta" etc. but as "Mrs." before their husbands' names and as long as they remained widows. Obviously this was done for clarity to the viewer, but in period novels you don't see this stylistic error. See more »

Quotes

Clem Spender: I'll be leaving, immediately.
Charlotte Lovell: To this war?
Clem Spender: Well, what other war is there? War makes you forget - sometimes rather quickly.
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Crazy Credits

The opening credits are shown on facsimiles of wedding invitation cards. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Hollywood Out-takes and Rare Footage (1983) See more »

Soundtracks

Yankee Doodle
(uncredited)
Traditional 18th century tune
Played in the score for the first scene
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User Reviews

 
A Warner Major Feature
1 April 1999 | by harry-76See 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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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

2 September 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Old Maid See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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