1942 / USA / 118 min. / Colour
Director: Irving Rapper
Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains,Gladys Cooper
Golden age Hollywood at its burnished best. Davis is Charlotte Vale, an unattractive, overweight, repressed spinster whose life is brutally dominated by her tyrannical mother, played by Gladys Cooper – who else? The film takes Vale on an unsentimental roller-coaster of self-discovery and redemption that brilliantly manages to avoid the temptation of falling into melodrama. The truly extraordinary Bette Davis (Vale) gives one of her most nuanced and satisfying performances, willing, as ever, to portray an initially unsympathetic character of few apparent redeeming features with honesty and relish. Her true genius, though, comes in how she handles Vale’s transition – a remarkable display. This is strong stuff, delivered without compromise.