L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Monday, October 14, 2013

The awfully chic Bette Davis of Now, Voyager

Bette Davis was never a "glamor girl".  (No matter how much, early on, Warner Brothers tried to force her into that mold.)  She was an actress, full stop.  As far as she was concerned, her on-screen appearance should always only be dictated by the needs of her characterization.  And though, while never a regular beauty, she could certainly be attractive on film, there was probably only one role in her career where it was actually so important that she be - eventually, anyway - quite chic, even glamorous.  That would be as the transformed Aunt Charlotte of 1942's Now, Voyager.

G and I watched Now, Voyager again the other night; when choosing it, I told her it was one of those films that I can watch over and over, without ever tiring of it.  It's just gloriously preposterous, of course, but one of the joys of watching it is the wonder of how they pulled it off - and so well.  Orry-Kelly was the designer of nearly all her costumes while she was at Warner Brothers.  And I was really struck, the other night, by what a great job he did with this film, and just how terrific she looked as the refurbished Charlotte Vale.  And, really, for once that was the point.

As she smokes her cigarette through her veil.  Right before she repeatedly kisses her co-star, Paul
Henreid, through her veil.  I'm not really up on my veil etiquette, but isn't that a bit odd?
I must say, I adore this hat.


Of course there was this rather unfortunate little number....  The one she wears when she rids herself of her dreary capon of a fiancé, then goes upstairs and "talks mommy dead".  Miss Davis was, unfashionably, rather heavy-busted, and this drape-y, droopy, shrilly patterned dress was further burdened, as it were, by that particular physical characteristic.


  1. One of my favorite movies as well. I don't really think the last one you speak of is so unflattering though, is it? Not AS flattering as the others perhaps but certainly an 'after' from her 'before' looks in the movie.

    1. Well, you're definitely right about that, Stefan. But then her 'before' isn't too difficult to improve on... uh, no. : )