- Rated: Not Rated
- Run Time: 1 hours, 35 minutes
- Video: Black & White
- Released: September 2, 1939
- Originally Released: 1939
- Label: Warner Home Video
- Encoding: Region 1 (USA & Canada)
- Note: Vintage newsreel
- Technicolor historical short Lincoln in the White house
- Howard Hill sport short sword fishing
- Classic cartoons The Film Fan and Kristopher Kolombus
- Trailers of The Old Maid and 1939's Confessions of a nazi spy
- Subtitles - English, French
Performers, Cast and Crew:
Description by OLDIES.com:
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 her 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 Charlotte's effusive cousin, who raises the little girl.
Edith Wharton's 1924 novel is the fodder for this sprawling tale of southern belle self-sacrifice. Charlotte (Bette Davis) and Delia (Miriam Hopkins) are two headstrong sisters who both love the same no-good man (George Brent). He dies fighting in the Civil War for the Confederacy, but not before fathering Charlotte's illegitimate child (Jane Bryan). After Delia is widowed, the two wile away their days together as old ladies in a big, ornate mansion, arguing over how to best raise the growing girl, while a strict moral code demands Charlotte not acknowledge the child as her own.
It's interesting to watch Davis transform herself from fresh-faced country girl to bitter old spinster, considering how many similar "old maid" characters she would play throughout the latter half of her career. As her lively older sister, Miriam Hopkins contrasts Davis' gloom by radiating warmth and love, as does the ravishing Bryan. They're all sensational; by the time the movie ends, if the viewer is left with a single tear unshed, it's not for these great ladies' lack of trying, or Edmund Goulding's direction, which is positively purple with Southern Gothic magic and airy intimacy.
On Delia Lovell's (Miriam Hopkins) wedding day, her old flame Clem Spender (George Brent) returns after a two-year absence. Delia's cousin Charlotte (Bette Davis), who had always loved him, spends the night with him and ends up pregnant. Clem goes off to fight and is killed in the Civil War, and Charlotte puts their illegitimate daughter Tina in an orphanage. Meanwhile Delia, who has married well, enjoys a wealthy lifestyle. Eventually, Charlotte tells her cousin about the girl, and Delia takes both of them into her home, but continues to keep the maternal identity a secret. Charlotte, who has remained a spinster, becomes increasingly embittered as she watches Tina grow to regard Delia as her mother.
Civil War |
Family Interaction |
- Theatrical release: August 11, 1939.
- Ernst Lubitsch originally purchased the rights to the play with the intention of casting Judith Anderson and Helen Menken in a film version.
- Humphrey Bogart was the first choice for the role of Clem Spender.
- The film was the last screen appearance for actress Louise Fazenda (Dora).