Quintessential Davis: Now, Voyager

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Bette Davis considered Now, Voyager to be one of her favorite films, and her performance earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. The film, deemed a coming-of-age story, follows Davis as she breaks free from her mother's grip to discover a world unseen. 

The film takes its title from Walt Whitman's poem “The Untold Want”, which says:

The untold want by life and land ne'er granted,

Now voyager sail thou forth to seek and find.

Go behind the scenes of one of Bette Davis’ classic dramas below!

1. Different leads were considered.

Originally, Irene Dunne was to star opposite Charles Boyer, which, per Bette Davis’ own words, made her “apoplectic.” Ginger Rogers was also considered for the role and even pursued it. However, Davis approached producer Hal Wallis, who approached Warner, who let the star play the lead. Before Henreid, Henry Fonda and Fredric March were also considered.

2. Paul Henreid had a bad screen test.

For his audition, Henreid was rather shocked to have his hair covered in pomade, his face covered in dramatic make-up, and a smoking jacket. Davis shared his horror, and the two bonded over the costuming mishap. “I found her a delight to work with, and we got along famously,” Henried said of Davis. “She has remained a dear, close friend—and always a very decent human being.”

3. Henreid created that memorable moment.

The script called for a convoluted exchange where he lit Bette's cigarette. However, when practicing with his wife, Paul found it odd and humorous. So he showed Davis what he and his wife did while driving – he put both cigarettes in his mouth and then lit them. Davis loved the trick, and so did producer Hal Willis, who instructed that two more instances be added to the script. The trick, of course, is one of the most memorable moments in cinema history. Unfortunately, fans often badgered Henreid to perform the trick for them later on.