Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Dark Victory (1939)

Director: Edmund Goulding

Writers: Casey Robinson, George Emerson Brewer Jr., Bertram Bloch

Composer: Max Steiner

Starring: Bette Davis, George Brent, Humphrey Bogart, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Ronald Reagan, Henry Travers, Cora Witherspoon

More info: IMDb

Plot: A young socialite is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour, and must decide whether she'll meet her final days with dignity.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Great cast.  For the first hour or so there are many moments of melodrama and overacting.  But then something happens and Judith (Davis) goes through her transformation from silly, carefree socialite to facing reality and dealing with it head-on.  Bette Davis is fantastic!  I didn't realize how amazing she was until the final third of the film.  She's marvelous in this picture.  It's great to see a 1930s picture with Bogart where he's not a cardboard bad guy.  He's fun here but you might laugh when you find out he's playing an Irish brogue.  I thought he was just a regular guy stable hand.  It doesn't matter, Bogie's fun and shows up from time to time in his supporting role.  But when he gets serious, talking about love, it's cheesy.  Ronald Reagan has a smaller role.  He's fine when he's playing a carefree playboy but he's horrible at playing drunk.  He gets the award for going overboard in this picture.  Max Steiner's score is soft, lovely and reserved.  It's a side of Steiner that you don't often get.
That last couple of scenes, though, had me tearing up and it's all Davis.  It's a good flick that snuck up on me.  The Warner Bros. DVD presents a grainer-than-usual print with extras in a commentary track with Jim Ursini and Paul Clinton, a 10 minute featurette on the film and how amazing that year was for now-classic film, and the theatrical trailer.

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