Last minute entry for the Academy Award is Bette Davis' newest acting miracle "Now, Voyager." One does not even have to appreciate her to approve of the craftsmanlike piece of work she paces here; and, when combined with the B-plus-grade thriller "Secret Enemies," it makes one of the strongest double feature bills Boston has seen in a long time.
Although it boasts both a competent story and superb technical finish, it is the acting which places "Now, Voyager" among the year's best. Bette Davis, again playing a psychological case, cannot be topped as the unwanted daughter gnarled under the domination of a tyrannical Beacon Hill mother. Her knight in armor, Paul Henreid, keeps right up with her, however, adding a Continental touch to the picture's portion of love-making. His double-cigarette lighting trick threatens to become as imitated and obnoxious as Veronica Lake's trademark. Claude Rains. Ilka Chase, and Bonita Granville fill in the supporting roles expertly.
Any summary of the plot would spoil it for the future goer, for the picture depends in good part on the delicate intricacies of character development and twists of sequence for its effectiveness. Admittedly, the story runs exceptionally long and could stand some judicious cutting, but only for a few moments toward the end does it drag noticeably.
Most charming of the picture's attributes is its tendency to abandon the usual Hollywood baby talk for normal adult conversation, achieving striking success in its seemingly minor-key moments. The characters do not insist on mouthing Shakespearian lines at every turn, and when they do, it stands out in obvious and unsatisfactory contrast. Scattered complaints that the film is "mushy" can be upheld by pointing to those less likeable sections where the actors attend to the business of acting, but those condemnations are completely subordinated by the picture's masterful, off-guard body.