In Now, Voyager (1942), Boston heiress Charlotte Vale (Bette Davis) is the victim of a domineering mother (Gladys Cooper) and teeters on the verge of a nervous breakdown. She retreats to a sanitarium, where she is restored to health, sanity, and beauty by a psychiatrist (Claude Rains). Emerging from her retreat, she embarks on a sea cruise, where she falls in love with a handsome married man (Paul Henreid) whose family life has complications of its own. Soon, familial tensions and simmering desires come to a head, throwing conventional ideas of family, love and motherhood into crisis. Based on a 1941 novel by Olive Higgins Prouty, Now, Voyager has been central to critical discussions about the women’s film, consumer culture, and feminist film theory.
The Carsey-Wolf Center was delighted to present Now, Voyager as part of its 2022-2023 series “Big Screen.” E. Ann Kaplan (author of Feminism and Film) joined Patrice Petro, Director of the Carsey-Wolf Center, to discuss the enduring legacy of this fascinating film.
E. Ann Kaplan (Stony Brook University)
Moderator Patrice Petro
Patrice Petro is Professor of Film and Media Studies, Dick Wolf Director of the Carsey-Wolf Center, and Presidential Chair in Media Studies. She is the author, editor, and co-editor of fourteen books, including Uncanny Histories in Film and Media Studies (2022), The Routledge Companion to Cinema and Gender (with Kristin Hole, Dijana Jelaca, and E. Ann Kaplan, 2017), Teaching Film (2012), Idols of Modernity: Movie Stars of the 1920s (2010), Rethinking Global Security: Media, Popular Culture, and the “War on Terror” (2006), and Aftershocks of the New: Feminism and Film History (2002). She served two terms as President of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, the largest U.S. professional organization for college and university educators, filmmakers, historians, critics, scholars, and others devoted to the study of the moving image.
This event is sponsored by the Carsey-Wolf Center.
CWC Presents: Big Screen
The movie theater has always been a space of wonder and anxiety. Since the inception of the cinema, audiences have enjoyed the collective experience of viewing a film on the big screen, but fears of contagion and disease have undercut that pleasure since the cinema’s earliest years. In our current moment, closures of international festivals and competition with streaming platforms have significantly altered the film industry. The Carsey-Wolf Center’s “Big Screen” series at the Pollock Theater will explore this tension as we welcome cinemagoers back to the theater. The series will spotlight films made to be seen on the big screen, including works that are almost never seen in North America (Satyajit Ray), as well as classical Hollywood films (featuring Bette Davis) and early slapstick comedy (Buster Keaton and more). This series will recall those early cinemagoers who first marveled at early moving pictures or new technologies like Cinerama and CinemaScope, and invite conversations with scholars and filmmakers about their varied, personal, and unexpected experiences with the big screen.
The CWC Classics program celebrates cinema’s rich history, bringing classic films back to the big screen for critical viewing and discussion. These events feature filmmakers, academics, and professionals who can contextualize the production and historical impact of the films. The series occasionally presents classic films in their original 16 or 35 mm formats. CWC Classics events celebrate the history and significance of cinema’s enduring legacy.