7.7/10
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35 user 12 critic

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:

Edmund Goulding

Writers:

Casey Robinson (screen play), Zoe Akins (based on the play by: Pulitzer Prize) | 1 more credit »
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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 sisters 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:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

2 September 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Htjela sam dijete 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
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Warner Brothers publicity department took full advantage of the dueling divas and played up their feud to boost ticket sales for the upcoming film. They even went as far as to circulate a photo of the actresses in full costume with boxing gloves on, ready to duke it out, with director Goulding looking resigned between them. See more »

Goofs

At about 1:09, when Tina is standing at the staircase after returning from the ball, as Charlotte is eavesdropping, the shadow of a boom mic passes across the carpet, just after Tina says "What sort of things?" This is especially puzzling because there is no further dialogue in the shot and no reason for the mic to follow Tina. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Lanskell: Well, then shoot the whole bunch of them and be done with it, and Good-bye!
See more »

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

Bridal Chorus (Here Comes the Bride)
(1850) (uncredited)
from "Lohengrin"
Music by Richard Wagner
Played as background music and hummed by Bette Davis
Reprised at Delia's weddimg and on a music box before Dee's wedding
See more »

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User Reviews

Best of Warner's Era Films Not Directed by William Wyler
9 May 2008 | by sissymaletopmanSee all my reviews

Everyone who is a fan of Davis' knows that William Wyler (director of Jezebel, the Letter, and the Little Foxes) was Davis' "best" director because he could put her in her place and control her, forcing her to not over-act and use too many bits of business and gestures, etc to distract. Davis did not need mannerisms to get emotion across on screen and Wyler seemed to be able to tell her how to control that; she learned from him, for after Jezebel in 1938, she very rarely acted in a manner displaying lack of control that matched her pre-Jezebel career.

The Old Maid was directed by Edmund Goulding; I don't know much about him except that was considered a "women's film" director and was respected as a talented one. In any event, the Old Maid is the best of Davis' four 1939 films. which include Dark Victory, Juarez, and the Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex.

In the Old Maid, Davis with the help of Mr Goulding delivers a restrained yet compellingly provocative performance; the film spans a twenty year time period, beginning in 1861 or so with a young Davis ministering to her cousin Delia (played by the talented but very difficult Miriam Hopkins.) Although Miriam does her best to steal each scene from Davis, she never succeeds. Bette Davis is superb in this film; so much so that it really remains one of the few undated movies from the 1930s. True star quality is related to being able to connect with an audience over years and years of time. Ms. Davis certainly has this ability - never better displayed than in the Old Maid.

Favorite scenes: Charlotte (Davis' character) wedding preparation and Delia's subsequent lie - along with the next scene that takes place when Davis realizes that Hopkins' character has lied and ruined her life - watch Davis' face as she utters "it was wicked of you" to Hopkins- (who, by the way delivers a disappointing response.) Now that's star-quality acting!


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