Suffering in mink supreme. The ‘woman’s picture’ par excellence with nearly all the manipulative levers pulled with just-so efficiency. The machine-tooled studio style is just about at a peak here and plays you like the proverbial kipper but it’s done with such confidence and elan who could complain too loudly? If only the Hollywood conveyer belt were covered in ermine every time.
Worth suffering through the ✮✮-level first 45 minutes. The rest is a ✮✮✮✮-grade top-dog melodrama. The cut-off point is the end of the horrible scene with Giuseppe the taxi driver when the bundling kicks off.
The chemistry between Bette Davis and Paul Henreid is absolutely electric and hands down the high point of this little melodrama. Smoking cigarettes never looked so sexy and you can practically feel the carnal desire on their faces as they smoke with each other. Claude Rains offers his calm sarcasm and brilliantly complements this stunning film. Davis was a presence and she shows her full range in this picture.
The sentiment is noble and there are big ideas in this film, but it's hard to say that it aged well. Now, Voyager didn't portray the way people went about life and love then and it certainly doesn't do it now. Love Affair (i.e.), done a few years early, is a better melodrama. Still, Rapper's work is often intriguing and Davis and Henreid's relationship is undoubtedly to die for.
An absolutely brilliant melodrama...despite all the ingredients for a camp classic, it thankfully skirts that realm and I think the presence of Rains & Cooper have a lot to do with that...and Davis clearly refuses to raise her performance to the levels she would later on.