7.6/10
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40 user 13 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 »
Reviews
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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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
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The 1935 Pulitzer Prize-winning play opened at the Empire Theatre in New York on Jan. 7, 1935 and ran for 305 performances. The leads were played by Judith Anderson and Helen Menken. Marjorie Lord, who later gained fame as the wife of Danny Thomas on TV's The Danny Thomas Show (1953), was a replacement cast member in a supporting role. Producer-Director Ernst Lubitsch bought the rights to the play, intending to star both Judith Anderson and Helen Menken in a Paramount production, but the rights were later sold to Warner Bros. in January 1939. 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

Delia Lovell Ralston: Dr. Lanskell? Come here a moment. Do you remember when I stopped Charlotte from marrying Joe? You said at the time it was a sacrilegious thing to lay a hand on another person's destiny.
Dr. Lanskell: I thought it was a mistake. But one never knows what was a mistake and what was not. We can't turn back the clock and play life over again.
See more »

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
See more »

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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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