Dark Victory

1939, Movie, NR, 105 mins


Davis is the centerpiece of this film version of the Tallulah Bankhead stage vehicle, faring better early on when she slams through her scenes in her most hyperthyroid manner. She knows it's cliche stuff, and she's determined to wow you anyhow--barking in her most clipped manner, guzzling cocktails with "little Ronnie Reagan" (as Davis always called him), and brandishing her riding crop at miscast stablehand Bogie.

When hedonistic heiress Davis discovers she has a brain tumor, the pace drops to allow romance in the form of George Brent, her doctor. Thank God she stiff-upper-lips it through their short-lived marriage; he's the soggiest newlywed ever, and looks as if his practice consists of trimming his pencil thin mustache. There is a fine assist from lovely newcomer Geraldine Fitzgerald, as Davis's best girlfriend and Edmund Goulding has elevated the form whenever he can. Unfortunately, when Davis climbs the stairs for the last time, composer Max Steiner goes with her. Remade in 1963 as STOLEN HOURS. leave a comment

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Dark Victory: The Life of Bette Davis
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