Review: ‘The Old Maid’

Film version of the Pulitzer prize play [by Zoe Akins from a novel by Edith Wharton] sticks pretty close to the original development and dialog. Therein lies a handicap to success of the piece on the screen. It's stagey, sombre and generally confusing fare.

Film version of the Pulitzer prize play [by Zoe Akins from a novel by Edith Wharton] sticks pretty close to the original development and dialog. Therein lies a handicap to success of the piece on the screen. It’s stagey, sombre and generally confusing fare.

Story opens during the Civil War days. Miriam Hopkins loves George Brent, but, when he fails to return after two years, prepares to marry rich James Stephenson. Brent arrives on the wedding day and is comforted by Bette Davis, younger cousin of Hopkins. Brent goes to war and is killed, leaving Davis with a child.

Skipping over 15 years, household is presented in complex antagonism between the two cousins, now matronly.

Davis provides a strong portrayal in the title role. Hopkins provides a strong contrast as the motherly matron.

The Old Maid

Production

Warner. Director Edmund Goulding; Producer Hal B. Wallis; Screenplay Casey Robinson; Camera Tony Gaudio; Editor George Amy; Music Max Steiner; Art Director Robert Haas

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1939. Running time: 92 MIN.

With

Bette Davis Miriam Hopkins George Brent Donald Crisp Jane Bryan James Stephenson
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