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Dark Victory | 1939 | Bette Davis, George Brent

A classic bit of soap opera film, with Davis turning in a remarkable, Oscar-nominate performance (and eventually losing to Gone with the Wind’s Vivien Leigh) as the starchy socialite who is diagnosed with a fatal brain tumour and goes on a long emotional journey from stubborn disbelief to acceptance. It’s overblown, melodramatic stuff but Davis commands the screen, elevating it from cliché territory. There are some nice supports from a young Reagan as Davis’ party animal friend, Bogart as a stable assistant and Brent as Davis’ brain surgeon turned hubby, encouraging her to face death ‘beautifully and finely’.

Bette Davis as Judith Traherne
George Brent as Dr. Frederick Steele
Humphrey Bogart as Michael O’Leary
Geraldine Fitzgerald as Ann King
Ronald Reagan as Alec
Henry Travers as Dr. Parsons
Cora Witherspoon as Carrie
Dorothy Peterson as Miss Wainwright
Virginia Brissac as Martha
Charles Richman as Colonel Mantle
Herbert Rawlinson as Dr. Carter
Leonard Mudie as Dr. Driscoll
Fay Helm as Miss Dodd
Lottie Williams as Lucy
Black Ace as Judith’s Horse
Marian Alden as Judith’s Friend
Wilda Bennett as Judith’s Friend
Diane Bernard as Lucy – a Servant
Richard Bond as Judith’s Friend
Sidney Bracey as Bartender
Nat Carr as Doctor
Glen Cavender as Headwaiter
Mary Currier as Nightclub Singer
Frank Darien as Anxious Little Man
Edgar Edwards as Trainer
Paulette Evans as Judith’s Friend
Jack A. Goodrich as Doctor
Eddie Graham as Doctor
John Harron as George – Man Taking Judith’s Coat
Leyland Hodgson as Judith’s Friend
Stuart Holmes as Doctor
Alexander Leftwich as Specialist #2
Frank Mayo as Judith’s Friend
Will Morgan as Doctor
Jack Mower as Veterinarian
David Newell as Judith’s Friend
Wedgwood Nowell as Doctor
Ila Rhodes as Secretary
John Ridgely as Man Making Crack About Judith
Speirs Ruskell as Henry Curtiss – Dr. Steele’s Assistant
Cliff Saum as Moving Man
Jeffrey Sayre as Doctor
Amzie Strickland as Judith’s Friend
Rosella Towne as Girl in Box
William Worthington as Specialist #1
Maris Wrixon as Judith’s Friend
Director: Edmund Goulding
USA | 104 minutes | 1939

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