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Now, Voyager and The Code


bradtexasranger
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Watching Now, Voyager again this afternoon, something occured to me : how did the relationship between Bette Davis and Claude Rains make it past the code, seeing as the Claude Rains character was married. I know they didn't "do it" as far as we know but they had a whirlwind romance on the ship. I'm a little fuzzy on The Code but wasn't there supposed to be some kind of comeuppance for the characters involved in the behavior? Also, the scene where she makes out with the sailor might have been considered racy at that time. Ideas, anyone?

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Brad, I believe Bette Davis had the romance with Paul Henreid, and not Claude Rains. I guess as long as they weren't shown in the bedroom, the romance was acceptable.

The scene on the ship, in the car with the sailor was mild considering what Hollywood use to get away with during the pre-code era.

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bradtexasranger -

 

After re-reading your post three times, I finally figured out what you are trying to ask. You got some of the names confused. Claude Rains is the therapist in "Now, Voyager". There was no "flagrante delicto" suggested between the two of them. It was a completely professional relationship.

 

Paul Henreid played "Jerry", the object of Charlotte's affection on her post-therapy sojourn. I do think they consumated their relationship in the back seat of the taxi that went off the road that night and the two were left "alone". In fact, I have always assumed that Charlotte's loss of virginity that night is the reason Charlotte breaks off the later relationship with the man who Charlotte's Mother approves of so much. Charlotte tells him ("the feather in the cap of the Vale family" as mother calls him) about "keeping warm" that night in the taxi in a way that is oblique enough to get past the "code" but intimates that she was de-flowered and no longer a woman to whom this Boston Blue Blood would want to be married. (If I am wrong, then I have mis-interpreted that break-up for a loooong time.)

 

I don't know how "the code" treated adultery as a situation other than it had to take place off screen. The film makes clear that Jerry would like a divorce from his wife but she refuses to give it to him so maybe the "alienation of affection" of which he was a victim was good enough to allow him to cheat without regard of a "come-uppance". Adultery was pretty rampant in films during the code (i.e. - Norma Shearer's husband in "The Women"). I think law-breakers like murderers were the one's who had to be dealt with in a socially acceptable manner.

 

Anyway, that "Now Voyager" ends in unrequited love between the two leads is what makes the film so special. I am big softee for unrequited love stories and this one is the standard by which all others need to be compared.

 

Kyle In Hollywood

 

(I see Mongo beat me to the punch on the character/actor clarifications. Maybe he can offer some insight on these relationship details that even I may have have missed even though I have watched this film dozens of times.)

 

Message was edited by: kjk

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Brad, the taxi driver Giuseppe was played by the delightful Italian character actor Frank Puglia.

He appeared in over 200 films, notably in "Casablanca" as the Arab rug merchant.

He was set to play Bonasera the undertaker in "The Godfather" but had to pass due to illness. He died in 1975 at age 83.

 

kjk, your analysis of the film is on target, and I couldn't improve on it.

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That's interesting. Believe it or not, I never thought about what happened between them in the back seat of the cab, but your take on it totally makes sense. I'm going to watch it with this perspective next time I see it. One reason I'm grateful for this board, despite all the silliness sometimes. Thanks, Kyle.

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bradtexasranger -

Happy to have brought a new perspetive to you regarding the film and its relationships. (And thanks to Mongo for validating my interpretation of the events.)

 

And that I am contributing in some manner other than adding to the silliness around here pleases me too. ( - a cause as noble as raising the child of your unrequited lover!)

 

Kyle In Hollywood

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> > I don't know how "the code" treated adultery as a

> situation other than it had to take place off screen.

> The film makes clear that Jerry would like a divorce

> from his wife but she refuses to give it to him so

> maybe the "alienation of affection" of which he was

> a victim was good enough to allow him to cheat

> without regard of a "come-uppance".

 

The code states the following under General Principles:

 

"The sanctity of the institution of marriage and the home shall be upheld. Pictures shall not infer that low forms of sex relationship are the accepted or common thing.

1. Adultery, sometimes necessary plot material, must not be explicitly treated, or justified, or presented attractively."

 

Under reasons supporting the GP it states:

 

"In the case of impure love, the love which society has always regarded as wrong and which has been banned by divine law, the following are important:

 

1. Impure love must not be presented as attractive and beautiful.

2. It must not be the subject of comedy or farce, or treated as material for laughter.

3. It must not be presented in such a way to arouse passion or morbid curiosity on the part of the audience.

4. It must not be made to seem right and permissible.

5. It general, it must not be detailed in method and manner."

 

The entire text of the code can be found here.

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Hi JonPaker -

Thanks for the dispatch from the Hays Office.

 

I guess, from what others have written here, that the film was vague enough on the carnal aspects of Charlotte and Jerry to make it past the censors and some of the audience too. Or are Mongo and I the only ones who think the deed was done in the back of the taxi?

 

A case could be made that Chalrlotte broke off her later relationship because she realized she could never love "the feather" (what is his name?) like she loves Jerry but something gnaws at me that Charlotte's coming clean with her Boston beau was an admission that she was a fallen woman and not just that she loved someone else.

 

And as for "Adultery must not be presented attractively", speaking from experience, sex in the back seat was never an attractive situation.

 

Kyle In Hollywood

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Actually, Jerry and Charlotte spend the night together in a little hut---so the backseat is not where the "action" took place. :)

 

I read the novel by Olive Prouty which this is based upon, and it is only a tad more clear about there actually having been relations between Jerry and Charlotte---the emphasis was always more upon the emotional attachment Charlotte felt for the first man to make her feel loved and confident in herself. And that's not just because they had sex, but because they shared a common bond of pain. I believe that's why so many responded to this film and still do. We all wish we could find someone who can see through our pain and be drawn to us---instead of being repelled.

 

One of the funniest things about this movie is that since the classic cigarette business captured the public's imagination, almost everyone connected with the movie has taken credit for inventing it! Including Henreid, Davis and the director, Irving Rapper.

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The most important relationship in that movie, was the relationship between Charlotte and her mother. Watching Charlotte overcome that kind of all encompassing domination and manipulation is what the audience relates to. Seeing her gain confidence, and fight for her independence, finally without fear lends strength to us all.

I believe that even if Jerry were free to persue a life with Charlotte, that Charlotte would inevitably decline. Would she exchange that hard fought for freedom to play the role of subservient wife and mother? No matter how much she loves him, I don't believe that she would.

With or without its mysteries, it is a powerful film. It is my all time favorite film. I think it would be whether or not Bette Davis played the lead, and Bette is my favorite actress.

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> With or without its mysteries, it is a powerful film.

> It is my all time favorite film. I think it would be

> whether or not Bette Davis played the lead, and Bette

> is my favorite actress.

 

I have to respectfully disagree. I think the film would probably have been a sentimental mess without Ms Davis. I think she elevates it. But I agree she might not have married Jerry, even if she had the opportunity.

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Right on Brad!

 

But even though I'm stupid and still smoke (Oh my G**), I always have and always will hate those smoking scenes. In my day, when everybody and their brother smoked, everyone had a cigarette after sex, and THAT's what I always thought was being represented, even at the party where she sees him again, when they're in that room together. I can't help giggling. I never thought it was suave and debonair, just nuts.

 

Anne

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That brings up another interesting point : Did the code have anything to say about smoking? It's always seemed a little curious to me how common smoking was in the 40-50's films and how in this anything-goes age you hardly ever see anyone in movies or TV light up. Please correct me if I'm off base. Any comments?

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You must be in your 40's Brad.

 

In my day, teen years 50's through 60's, everybody smoked, it was a 'right of passage', like the long pants on boys and hair up on girls in the 30's and 40's. If you could buy a pack of cigarettes, you were an adult. At one time TV had commercials on for various cigarettes, that's where the Marlboro Man came from, and the Camel. When all the hullabaloo came up about smoking causing cancer, it was banned on screen, whether big or small. I don't think it was verbal, but an unspoken/unwritten law. I noticed lately though that some people are starting to smoke again on screen, and not only in period movies. The reason I mention your age is my daughter is 39 and she can't ever remember seeing cigarette commercials, so they must have disappeared before your time. Mary Tyler Moore's first job was dancing as a pack of Chesterfield cigaretts in a commercial.

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>"That brings up another interesting point : Did the code have anything to say about smoking? It's always seemed a little curious to me how common smoking was in the 40-50's films and how in this anything-goes age you hardly ever see anyone in movies or TV light up"<

 

I think smoking in some films were props.

Davis and Henreid got the point across by Him lighting up 2 cigarettes at a time.

Bogart and Bacall In To Have and Have Not when she meets him by asking for a light.

Even William Holden lighting a match off Neville Brands face in Stalag 17.

So back then Smoking wasn't as Tabboo as todays standards. Now a days in films, you can sleep with everyone. But, "God Forbid" you Light -up...

 

vallo

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Damn you're good! I'm 41, as a matter of fact. I very vaguely remember cigarette commercials and also vaguely remember when they were banned. But I still find it curious that smoking is singled out in movies and TV but they have no problem with showing people sleeping with anybody and everybody(TV show Friends is the best example IMO) I think you'd have to agree that's just as dangerous if not more, there's no telling what diseases you could pick up from whom, even if you have protection it can still happen I think, not to mention risking getting pregnant.

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I know.

 

Sometimes they make a point of asking questions like "do you have something?" or equally lame comment, but most times they leave it to your assumption. Since Poltergeist was on during October, I have to say, that movie was advertised as basically a family film for over 13 and teens, but I always get angry in that one scene where the mother is smoking a joint while the dad is exercising, I never understood why that had to be in it unless it was cut that she thought she was hallucinating at first or something, but even so, they could have had the same effect with a sleeping pill.

 

Anne

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