CAROLE LOMBARD - My Favorite Actress

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Bette shines in Dark Victory (1939)

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Dark Victory was one of the first Bette Davis films I ever saw. I believe I was around 14 or 15 and it just blew me away. Easily one of Bette's most engaging performances and one of the best films from Hollywood's golden year of 1939. Bette plays Judith Traherne, a wealthy Long Island society girl who is having a ball with her lifestyle. Well fun and games come to an abrupt end when she finds out she has a brain tumor. Her secretary and friend Ann (played by Geraldine Fitzgerald in an understated but moving performance) and other friend Alex (Ronald Reagan) convince Judith to see a brain specialist, Dr. Frederick Steele (George Brent) who informs Judith that the tumor will cause her to die within the year. Through the course of the year Judith falls in love with Frederick and accepts his marriage proposal but can't go through with it because she thinks the doctor is being sympathetic to her illness. Humphrey Bogart is on hand as an Irish horse trainer who tries to make Judith fall in love with him. When he realizes that will never happen, he convinces Judith to be with the doctor. Dark Victory is one serious melodrama with an excellent performance by Bette. This is easily one of her top 5 film performances ever. She handles all her scenes with such ease and perfection. She goes from happy go lucky society girl to a woman on the brink of death. A lesser actress would have botched this role and could have went over the top with it, but Bette is terrific. She dominates this film and just overshadows everyone else. Not that the other actors involved aren't good, it's just that Bette is on another level. This film is definitely a tear jerker in every sense of the word and don't expect a happy ending. There are a couple scenes of light humor, especially in the beginning that won't make this film too hard to watch. And it is one of the best films Hollywood ever made. Oh and stay away from the colorized version, watch this in the original black and white version. The way it was meant to be seen.

Judith: Moving to Vermont are you? What do you do there in between yawns?


Dawn said...

Monty, I hope you are felling better. :) I think I would give this movie an A+. That is how much I love this movie. My favorite scene is when she says, "I think I'll have a large order of prognosis negative!" I can watch this movie a million times and never tire of it..Awesome post!!

Lily Lemontree said...

I am a big Bette Davis fan but can you believe that I have never seen this movie. I love your blog, found you through your post today about Monument Valley on Blonde Episodes and glad I did! A new follower!

Lexie said...

Bette Davis is one of my favorite (if not my main favorite)and I love this movie. I didnt even know that there was a colorized version, but I would imagine that the black and white one is much better. This is the movie that made me love Bette and probably made my interest in old movies to become as great as it is now. Great post!


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