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 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

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

At the beginning of the movie, Union Infantry troops are shown gathering to march. The insignia on their hats is crossed rifles. At that time the Infantry insignia was a bugle. They show the correct insignia on Clem's officer hat. In battle scenes some of the troops have the bugle insignia, too. See more »

Quotes

Delia Lovell Ralston: You are wicked, Charlotte. You are wicked.
Charlotte Lovell: No. I'm not wicked. I never could have done to you what you've done to me. You made me an old maid.
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Crazy Credits

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


Soundtracks

When Johnny Comes Marching Home
(1863) (uncredited)
Music by Louis Lambert
Played at the train station when soldiers return
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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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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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