AN AUTHENTIC REGION 1 DVD FROM WARNER BROTHERS. — SYNOPSIS: Based on an Edith Wharton novel and Pulitzer Prize-winning play, The Old Maid tells the sad story of Charlotte, a woman whose circumstances force her to give up he... more »r illegitimate child and pose as the child's "old maid" aunt, thereby facing a lifetime of maternal sacrifice. As Charlotte, Bette Davis gives one of her most nuanced performances, aging from wide-eyed girl to gray-haired martinet. Miriam Hopkins provides effective counterbalance with her portrayal of Charlottes effusive cousin, who raises the little girl. Two women, one child and a brilliant example of melodrama as art.
* Warner Night at the Movies 1939 short subjects gallery:
o Vintage newsreel
o Technicolor historical short Lincoln in the White House
o Howard Hill sports short Sword Fishing
o Classic cartoons The Film Fan and Kristopher Kolumbus
o Trailers of The Old Maid and 1939s Confessions of a Nazi Spy« less
"The long-standing rivalry between Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins makes this movie pop off the screen. Miriam is the beautiful cousin who has it all while Bette walks in the shadows. When Bette confesses that her illegitimate child was fathered by Miriam's old flame, Miriam seeks revenge. One of the most profitable films of 1939, this film has been well-preserved and still packs a thundering punch as one of the greatest cat fights of the silver screen."
A mother's self-sacrificing love...
Andrew Ellington | I'm kind of everywhere | 01/12/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Lush and yet beautifully quiet, `The Old Maid' is one of those films that you may never see because its stars went on to make more noted films, but that's what makes discovering this beautiful film all the more exciting. With stellar performances by the entire cast (especially a young and remarkably mature Bette Davis) and a script that will leave you in tears, `The Old Maid' is the definition of a hidden gem.
Coming out in the year of all years (1939), it is easy to see how a film like `The Old Maid' could be overlooked with sweeping Hollywood epics and starry-eyed fairytales devouring the critical bests of the year. Bette Davis herself starred in a slew of films this very year, and wound up Oscar nominated for her turn in `Dark Victory'. Despite that, it is a shame that `The Old Maid' walked away without a mere mention at the Academy Awards, for it is a beautifully told and crafted film about love, life and sacrifice.
Charlotte and Delia are cousins. On the outset of the film, the wealthy and rather spoiled Delia is getting married, only to find that her lover, Clem, has finally returned from war to make her his bride. She maintains composure and goes through with her wedding, while Charlotte confesses her love for Clem and soon finds herself pregnant with his child, only to hear of his death overseas. Instead of acknowledge her child, Charlotte lives as if Clementina is just an orphan staying in the orphanage she helps manage. When Charlotte is about to wed Delia's brother-in-law her secret is revealed and her life is thrust into turmoil. In order to care for her daughter the best way possible, Charlotte winds up moving in with Delia and soon finds that her own daughter starts gravitating towards Delia and considers her, her mother.
Thus, Charlotte becomes nothing but an old maid.
Davis is spectacular here, for she really understands the heartbreak that her character is undergoing. She emulates that sheltered love very well, wearing a mask of harshness that is lifted ever so lightly by the devastation and pain in her eyes. Miriam Hopkins is also quite good here (she reminds me a lot of Lana Turner in her roles in films like `Imitation of Life'), but Davis acts circles around her (Davis does have the meatier role). I also really adored Donald Crisp here (such a standout supporting player he was) and Jane Bryan's frustrated tantrums were effectively handled without ever straying into that `actorly' territory.
In the end I really, really must recommend this film. It is such a beautiful portrayal of parental love and sacrifice. The pre-wedding night scene, where Charlotte enters her daughter's room, is just so heart-swelling; and that final kiss carries such emotional weight. This film captures the true meaning of parenthood, even if this extreme case is one that hopefully we will never have to endure."
IT'S ALL ABOUT THE LADIES
Michael C. Smith | San Francisco, CA United States | 04/03/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"An understated Davis meets up with overcooked Hopkins resulting in a wonderful classic Warner's women's picture. Much has been written about the rivalry between Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins over the years since they worked together in several films. And each time I see one of their films I look for some hint that they hated each other. It cannot be found! These two were professional actress who never disappointed their fans or put anything above the story.
Hopkins seems to our modern movie going eyes to often be over wrought and stagy. But often that is in fact the character and not her. She seems to be over done here but is in fact quite wonderful. By the end of the film you are aware of her power as a screen actress. Her later work in such films as "The Children's Hour" shows that she was indeed a brilliant and subtle actress.
Bette Davis here gives one of her deepest and most restrained performances and is utterly winning from first frame to the heartbreaking last shot of the film. She shows us just how wide her range is and her understanding of film acting is as she goes from a gorgeous young girl tragically in love with George Brent to a repressed hard old maid who must bare her shame with steely resolve and solitude of soul.
A wonderful film well worth seeing time and again for in the end, it's all about the ladies!
Bette Davis, how can you go wrong
Terra D. Beezel | WV USA | 02/02/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This was a wonderful addition to my collection. I would recommend any Bette Davis movie to anyone."
As Good as Suds Can Get
Martin Asiner | Jersey City, NJ | 12/12/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"THE OLD MAID is one of the most remarkable tearjerkers of all time. Bette Davis was riding high as Hollywood's elite actress and in this film she shows how she could morph from a kindly and vivacious young woman to one who has aged unmercifully and deliberately all the while showing a mean streak that is mean only on the surface. Director Edmund Goulding surrounded Miss Davis with a reliable stable of actors who had worked well with her in the past. George Brent, who had just played her husband in DARK VICTORY, now is in love with Delia (Miriam Hopkins), who jilts him to marry into money. Delia still loves him but coldly chooses a life of material things over love. Bette Davis is Charlotte, Delia's cousin, who consoles Clem only too well, winding up in his arms. She discretely has a baby off screen and chooses to raise her with the child thinking that Delia is the mother and Charlotte is "Aunt Charlotte." Jane Bryan is Trina, who grows up loving Delia as her mother even knowing that she is not her biological daughter. What marks this film as the apex of sudsers is the shedding that each of the three female stars had to undergo relative to their respective motivations. Bette Davis had to age in a most ungraceful manner in the second half of the film. She is surprisingly mean to Jane Bryan, explaining her coldness only as a desire to hide the bitter truth. Miriam Hopkins seemingly ages not at all, but she sheds her original skin of cold-bloodedness to become increasingly more humane and lovable as the film winds down. As a subtext to the knowledeable theater-goer, in real life Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins were bitter rivals who spoke not a word together off screen. Yet, their final scenes of reconciliation ring true. Jane Byran plays against type as one who shouts at Charlotte: "You are a dried up prune of an old maid. You hate me because I am young and attractive and you are not." In earlier films Miss Bryan had played Miss Davis' love rival (KID GALAHAD) and her sister (MARKED WOMAN). Here as her daughter, Jane Bryan's lashing out at a woman who torments her for no apparent reason (at least to her)is no more than many other young women would have done. By the last reel, each of the three women have gained at least a partial understanding of their basic drives and needs. THE OLD MAID is a marvelous film that suggests that oldness need not be a disqualifying factor in determining one's essential goodness."