U.S.A.| 1942. BLACK AND WHITE. 117 MIN.

This is one of those films, like Casablanca, where all the ingredients magically mesh because of the sheer skill and professionalism of everyone involved: even the rain and Bette Davis’s white hat seem just perfect.

In thrall to her tyrannical mother (Gladys Cooper), Charlotte Vale (Davis) is the ugliest of ducklings until taken under the wing of a kindly psychiatrist (Claude Rains) and sent forth into the world where she falls in love with an unhappily married man (Paul Henreid). Henreid’s routine with two cigarettes, and a last line that might sound trite in someone else’s mouth but is very moving in Davis’s, are the most famous moments, but one should not overlook the boldness with which this most richly melodramatic of movies still finally spurns romance and marriage as necessarily the keys to feminine fulfilment.


Book Tickets