February 20, 2020
By Ken Brafman, Image from Ken Brafman Collection
MOUNTAIN MOVIES: NOW, VOYAGER: Most readers of this column should be aware of the rich filmmaking history of our San Bernardino Mountains. A visit to our Mountain History Museum is not complete without spending a little time in the Cozad Theater, where you will marvel at the scores of movie titles featured in a PowerPoint-type presentation. Our historian Russ Keller often peppers his popular lectures with behind-the-scenes highlights of films with a mountain connection. This week’s image is a still from “Now, Voyager” which was released in 1942. The three top-billed are Bette Davis, Paul Henreid and Claude Rains; with a large supporting cast which includes many Hollywood greats. Pictured are Bette Davis and Claude Rains acting a scene in front of a Lake Arrowhead backdrop. Davis plays an unhappy, insecure, frumpy character who spends time in a sanitarium following a psychologically abusive childhood. She becomes transformed both physically and mentally, partly with the help of a psychiatrist played by Rains, who is giving her encouragement in the scene. As part of her transformation and her journey of self-discovery she embarks on a cruise. No longer an “ugly duckling” she catches the attention of an unhappily married architect, played by Paul Henreid. The early scenes of Davis and Henreid together on the ship as she takes her first tentative steps toward womanhood are remarkable and touching, without being overly sentimental. This is a tribute to the director, Irving Rapper, as well as to the actors. The writers manage to keep things moving and to maintain a sense of humor throughout the dialog. What comes next was considered a “hot potato” in 1942, namely an adulterous affair. While subdued, and handled in a classy fashion, nonetheless this was seldom seen in films of that generation. The film concludes on a moral high note, and it’s a movie that shouldn’t be missed. Other film locations included Big Bear Lake and other locales, as well as various studio lots.