Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins shine in this Warner Bros. melodrama, "The Old Maid" released in 1939, a banner year for Davis at the studio. This was one of four very fine films she did that year, making her the reigning queen of the studio. In this one, Davis and Hopkins are cousins in the 1800's. Hopkins rejects her beau (George Brent) to marry into a wealthy family, the Ralstons. Davis has the hots for Brent (one of her frequent co-stars during this period) and gets pregnant with his baby. However, he goes off to fight the Civil War and is killed. At a time when being an unwed mother was not an option, Davis agrees to move in with Hopkins, now a widow with two children of her own. The child, Tina (Jane Bryan) grows up knowing she is a foundling, but always calls Hopkins "mummy." Davis does not let on she is Tina's mother, but rather an aunt; this fills her with resentment, and into a bitter old maid, hence the title of the picture. The movie is pure soap opera, for sure, but the interplay between Davis and Hopkins is fascinating to watch. Davis has the showier part, but Hopkins more than holds her own. Off screen, Davis had an affair with Hopkin's husband, director Anatole Litvak, and now the two had to star together in a film! One can only imagine what went on between them on the set of this, but both give fine performances. Even Davis herself, much later in life, stated Hopkins was a superb actress and she always had to be on her toes as her co-star. There are some fine supporting performances, notably from Jane Bryan as Tina and the always under-rated Donald Crisp as a friend of the family and doctor. But this is Hopkins and Davis' show, and they do not disappoint.
The Old Maid
The Old Maid
The arrival of an ex-lover on a young woman's wedding day sets in motion a chain of events which will alter her and her cousin's lives forever.
May 28, 2020