7.6/10
2,890
38 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 »
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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

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

Clem leaves for service in 1861, and Tina is born the following year, 1862. Dee's wedding invitation is dated 1884, and at that time Charlotte and Delia are discussing Tina's future. They say she is not yet twenty, but actually she would be at least 22 years of age. See more »

Quotes

Charlotte Lovell: The carriage is ready. The horses don't like standing on a cold night like this.
Tina: Oh, fiddle the horses!
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Spoofed in The Film Fan (1939) See more »

Soundtracks

Yankee Doodle
(uncredited)
Traditional 18th century tune
Played in the score for the first scene
See more »

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User Reviews

Extremely Strong Performances
29 August 2009 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

Old Maid, The (1939)

*** (out of 4)

Exceptional version of the Pultzer Prize winning play has Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins making for more high-class Warner drama. In the film, Davis gets pregnant by her cousin's (Hopkins) old flame (George Brent) so instead of facing public scorn, she opens a home for children where she raises the daughter as a stranger. A few years later after the death of Hopkins' husband, she tells the girl that she's her mother while her real mother takes a place in the background and grows to be an old maid while watching her child grow up not knowing who she is. I really wasn't sure what to expect out of this film, which seems to have been partially forgotten but perhaps this is due to it being released in 1939, a year with countless great films and not to mention Davis being in three other highly popular films in DARK VICTORY, JUAREZ and THE PRIVATE LIVES OF ELIZABETH AND ESSEX. This film perfectly blends the drama and makes for a very entertaining film even though some of the subject matter might hit new viewers as being old-fashioned but one much remember when this film takes place. What I enjoyed most about the movie is that many scripts would have fallen into a good guy/bad guy range. It would have been very easy to make Davis the sad, good girl while painting the Hopkins character as evil but the film isn't that easy. While you can't help but feel sorry for Davis you also can understand why Hopkins wants to protect the kid in her own way. The level of dirtiness that Hopkins sinks to will certainly make people hate her but you can also put some of that to the side when you really think about what's best for the kid. Both Davis and Hopkins turn in excellent performances as both really sink their teeth into the roles. The aging make up effects really don't work but I'm curious if this was because neither actress wanted to be buried under all the make up. George Brent is impressive in his small role as is Donald Crisp as the caring doctor. Considering what all 1939 had going for it, it's easy to see why this film has been overlooked but it's certainly worth checking out and deserve a new group of fans.


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