25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
She Did It The Hard Way,
This review is from: Dangerous (DVD)
The DVDs from the Warners Vault are generally no great treat technically. This one shows on par with my VHS copy, but the real value of the Warners Vault releases is that (at least currently) you get to see exceptional movies or ones that you like that aren't readily seen on TCM.
After being stymied by her contract with the brothers Warner to get much in terms of good material, Bette Davis managed to make the most of what roles were given her and with the role of Joyce Heath in this film she managed to hit pay dirt. What might have been just another ordinary film turned out to be a veritable bonanza for Davis' career. She won the coveted Oscar and that validation would lead to sometimes better roles among a sea of clunkers, but that's a whole other story.
This movie gave Davis the opportunity to strut her stuff, run the gamut of emotions, look worn out and raunchy,then transform to glamorous and seductive, and in the end ultimately redeem her character as a human being.
The general plot is pretty simple. Joyce Heath is a Broadway star who falls into the excesses of fame and ends up a total lush. A chance encounter with a young, handsome, and wealthy architect Don Bellows (played by the young, handsome, suave Franchot Tone) gives her the impetus to shed her destructive ways and revive her career with Don's support and encouragement. Of course, complications pop up by way of Don's understanding and sympathetic fiancee Gail Armitage (played by Margaret Lindsey) and Heath's still very much attached husband Gordon Heath(played needily by John Aldredge). Assistance in the form of Don's no-nonsense housekeeper Mrs. Williams (played by adorable Allison Skipworth) rounds out the supporting cast. Anything else said would ruin the plot, so I am stopping short on this one.
I liked this movie for a lot of reasons. Davis is really good as the *itchy drunk Joyce who initially doesn't want redemption and certainly doesn't seem deserving of it. She is combative and mean and looks as awful as she behaves. Joyce has hit the skids and looks as though the next stop is skid row. Knowing Davis, she probably had Warners tone down the make-up a lot. Realism wasn't usually the WB makeup department's area of expertise. Conversely, when Davis transforms once she is off the bottle she is also darn believable. As we all know, the love of a good man will do that in the movies. Tone's Don is really sort of a thankless role because at this point Tone was sort of stereotyped in his film career and would wait for the next decade to come before he could flex his acting muscle. However, he is so darn handsome, bright eyed, trusting, noble and kind that he is irresistible and he is just perfect in this role. Joyce hits the man bonanza with Don. Margaret Lindsey is o.k. as the noble and selfless Gail, but again she often fit into this sort of role. As for Eldredge, he is adequately whiney as sniveling Gordon. It was easy to see why Joyce left Gordon in the dust. Of note, though of less importance, is Allison Skipworth who finds the floozy drunk Joyce impossible. You get the idea that Mrs. Williams would rather hog tie Joyce than make her breakfast.
This movie moves quickly. It has very little meaningless dialogue and is interesting despite stock WB footage. Ultimately, this is a great movie for Bette Davis fans or anyone who has a soft spot for Franchot Tone.