Charlotte Vale, a young spinster (Davis, never better), has one hope for happiness: to get loose from the psychological stranglehold imposed by her rigid, controlling mother (Cooper). Director Irving Rapper’s melodrama of transformation follows Charlotte’s struggle to break free, inspired by an unexpected on-board romance with the dashing Jerry Durrance (Henreid, of “Casablanca” fame).
Sentimental and sometimes gloriously soapy, this film still tugs mightily at your heartstrings all these years later. Given the full-blown Warner Brothers treatment — with Max Steiner score, and both Henreid and the predictably fabulous Rains supporting Bette — how can you lose? Also, Cooper's icy turn as a mother from hell is one for the ages. Henreid's cigarette-lighting routine also remains a classically seductive moment.