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Sentimental Journey

Sentimental Journey title card

Year - 1946
Studio - 20th Century Fox
Stars - John Payne, Maureen O'Hara, William Bendix, Connie Marshall, Cedric Hardwicke, Glenn Langan, Mischa Auer, Kurt Kreuger, Trudy Marshall, Ruth Nelson
Director - Walter Lang
Writing Credits - Neilia Gardner White (story), Samuel Hoffenstein, Elizabeth Rienhardt (screenplay)
Music - Cyril Mockridge


William "Bill" O. Weatherly (John Payne) is a successful Broadway play director, married to Julie (Maureen O'Hara) who stars in many of his productions. Julie suffers from a weakened heart and her doctor, Jim Miller (Sir Cedric Hardwicke), insists that she rest in bed for at least two weeks.

One day, on a beach, Julie encounters Mehitabel "Hitty", who is a highly imaginative, but lonely, young orphan girl. Julie sees qualities of herself in Hitty and pleads with Bill for visit the orphanage to investigate the possibility of Hitty coming to live with them. Bill, who finds himself somewhat uncomfortable with Hitty's flights of imagination, nevertheless agrees.

Sentimental Journey poster

Hitty and Julie become very close, and their friend, "Uncle Don" (William Bendix) showers her with toys. But, one evening, as Julie and Hitty are conversing, Julie suffers a heart attack. Before dying, she asks Hitty to promise to take care of Bill and to, indeed, spoil him with attention.

Hitty is emotionally devastated by the loss of her new mother, but Bill is struck nearly catatonic, unable to work or see friends, except for a daily visit to Julie's grave with Uncle Don. Hitty's pain is eased by a vision (ghost?) of Julie, who reminds her of her promise to care for Bill's needs. She brings him his breakfast in bed, and does all in her young power to make him comfortable. She arranges for a surprise gathering of all his friends from the theatre but, when she tells him that Julie is in contact with her, Bill angrily tells Uncle Don to take her back to the orphanage.

Hitty, in tears, runs away from home and makes her way back to the beach where she and Julie first met. When she cries out for her on the stormy seaside, Julie appears and tells Hitty that she must return, and that Bill does indeed still need her. Julie says she will no longer appear to Hitty, but their relationship will continue through their thoughts.

Bill, in the meantime, desperately searching for Hitty, finds a recording left for him by Julie, explaining that she had trained Hitty to care for him, as her final act of love. Bill suspects that Hitty has gone to the beach, and he and Uncle Don rush there where they find her. Bill vows that Hitty will remain as his daughter forever.

Show Spoilers

Preview Clip

Sentimental Journey is very similar in concept to Curse of the Cat People but, to this viewer, the latter Val Lewton-produced blanc from two years earlier has a more compelling story and sophisticated script.

The title was suggested for this site by Karine Philippot.