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Dark Victory (1939)

1939

NR CC

Bette Davis stars as a hedonistic socialite who learns to value the simple things in life after being diagnosed with a fatal brain tumor in this three-hanky drama.

Starring:
Bette Davis, George Brent
Runtime:
1 hour, 44 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Drama, Romance
Director Edmund Goulding
Starring Bette Davis, George Brent
Supporting actors Humphrey Bogart, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Ronald Reagan, Henry Travers, Cora Witherspoon, Dorothy Peterson, Virginia Brissac, Charles Richman, Herbert Rawlinson, Leonard Mudie, Fay Helm, Lottie Williams, Black Ace, Marian Alden, Wilda Bennett, Diane Bernard, Richard Bond, Sidney Bracey
Studio Warner Bros.
MPAA rating NR (Not Rated)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

Other Formats

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
In one the the best remembered films of the thirties,Bette Davis gives beautifully modulated performance as Judith Traherne, the dying wealthy Long Island playgirl. Geraldine Fitzgerald is superb as Judith's friend and secretary, Ann King,a character written especially for the movie. Humphrey Bogart plays Michael O'Leary, an Irish horse trainer with somewhat less conviction, although George Brent gives his finest performance as Dr. Frederick Steele (whom Judy eventually marries.) Ronald Reagan (in a role he reportedly despised) plays the weak, drunken Alex, one of Davis's swains. Davis is magnificent throughout; her Judy is wild, spoiled and cheeky in the beginning and her amazing metamorphisis to a vibrantly happy and humbled young married woman is fascinating to observe on film. Legendary columnist Hedda Hopper claimed Davis always gave her best performances when she was in love and here it was apparent (the object of her affections was George Brent!).The famous planting scene in the garden had to be re-shot many times; Davis felt such empathy for her character that she would be reduced to tears. Tallulah Bankhead flopped when she played Judith Traherne on stage in 1934. Highly recommended as a prime example of just why people rave about this legendary first lady of the silver screen!
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Format: DVD
"Dark Victory" is atypical for a Hollywood movie made in 1939 [or for that matter, for one made today] because it deals with terminal illness and it doesn't have a happy ending. The medical profession back then was less honest about the subject. A common procedure was to assure the patient that they were doing fine, even when the prognosis was negative. This deceptive practice and other factors date the movie, but Bette Davis' stunning performance as Judith Traherne always has and always will define the movie. For that reason alone, it is still eminently watchable.
Judith is a vivacious, carefree member of Long Island society. Her passions are parties, her friends and her horses. After being thrown from her favorite horse, she admits to her best friend, Ann [Geraldine Fitzgerald] that the cause of the accident was a sudden blurring of her vision. This, she admits, is not the first time she's had this problem. After much cajoling of the stubborn, frightened Judith, Ann gets her to a specialist, Dr. Frederick Steel [George Brent], who diagnosis her as having a rare illness. An operation, which is unsuccessful, ensues, but the truth is withheld from Judith. During all this, patient and doctor fall in love with each other. Both the illness and Steel's well intended but deceitful way of dealing with it led to serious complications.
Fitzgerald is excellent as Ann, George Brent [a matinee idol in his time] is adequate, but Humphrey Bogart, whose stardom was sill several years away, is wasted as Michael, Judith's horse trainer. His Irish accent is not at all good. You'll hardly notice, though, because your thoughts and eyes will always be on Davis. She displays virtually every human emotion, seemingly without effort. One of her great scenes is the one in which Dr.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Tour de force camp fest for Bette Davis and her legions of fans. Almost every cliche that has become fodder for Davis impersonators (from Carol Burnett to Charles Pierce) are in this one...the swagger, the clipped speech, the cigarette holder and chronic/constant puffing, the one-line jabs and popping eyes. This one is elevated from mere melodrama by an admirable supporting cast and top notch production values. But if the genre isn't your cuppa, it will be a long 104 minutes.

This DVD print is wonderful. Crystal clear...looks and sounds terrific and the real reason to include this one in your library of classics. The commentary track, unfortunately, is virtually worthless..the two film afficianadoes offer little more than their own ooh'ing and aah'ing. Better off calling it an "opinion" track.
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Format: DVD
It always amazes me that my fellow campy queens who run around quoting Bette Davis lines ("Fasten your seat belts..." blah blah blah what a dump blah blah blah) don't have any quotes from this particular show of Betteness. Running around like a well-oiled piston from room to room with excitement and verve as headstrong socialite Judith Traherne, Davis looks like she's begging on her knees to be satirized. But she's also wonderful (of course), and though the film is dated and somewhat cornball (movies from this period up until The Three Faces of Eve that deal with medical subject matter tend to be so) it's always a very enjoyable tearjerker. Judith learns that her brain operation wasn't a success and that she has a lethal brain tumour and will go blind before she dies. How does she deal with it? Sporting the latest fashions, of course! Davis had seen the play with Tallulah Bankhead (she filmed another Bankhead vehicle play a year later when she did The Little Foxes and told Jack L. Warner it would make a great vehicle for her. His response, now famous: "Who wants to see a dame go blind?" He was wrong, though, and the film became one of Davis' biggest hits. Lots of fun for such a sad movie.
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Format: DVD
Bette Davis is outstanding as Judy Traherne, a Long Island rich girl with a fatal brain tumor. For a time Judy believes that she's been cured, a myth supported by her doctor (George Brent)who is starting to fall in love with her. Cameos by Ronald Reagan and Humphrey Bogart are welcomed inclusions that enhance the film's dramatic appeal.
Unfortunately, Warner acquired this title from a tired, worn print in the MGM library. The print is full of grain, chips, scratches, inconsistant shadow and contrast delineation and digital grit. There are several occasions where the entire image within the frame wobbles up and down, due to worn out sprocket holes. The visual experience during such instances is akin to riding a canoe through choppy seas. The audio is strident and scratchy. Overall this is a disappointing visual experience and one that Warner needs to rectify soon, before we lose this great classic forever to the ravages of time.
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