Monday, May 27, 2013

Movie review: Dark Victory (1939)

Watch Dark Victory on Amazon streaming
Playgirl socialite Judith (Bette Davis) enjoys steeplechase, smoking and drinking, and tormenting her stablemaster, Michael O'Leary (Bogie!). At first she's able to laugh off and ignore the headaches and double-vision, but after an accident she's finally coerced into seeing a doctor.

Despite the brilliant neurosurgeon's (George Brent) best efforts, Judy's brain tumor is terminal. But it's one of those kinds of tumors that lets you live a full and healthy life until you suddenly lose your vision and die three or four hours later. He and Judy's friend Ann (Geraldine Fitzgerald) conspire to keep her diagnosis a secret. It's not long before Judy finds out, though, and goes off on a hard-living tear. Can the good doctor and the good friend bring her back to right living?


I watched this as part of my 101 Things in 1001 Days. It's one of AFI's 100 Years, 100 Cheers.

It's a powerful movie, with strong performances, especially by Davis. Famously, when the script was presented to Jack Warner, he rejected it, saying "Who wants to see a dame go blind?" Even ol' Jack got them wrong sometime.

Fair warning, the attitudes toward patient/doctor relationships are extremely dated, which can give this movie a very unbelievable feel.


  1. Yeah, it's dated. I can't help but giggle when the heavenly choir starts singing to Judith, when she's in the garden, and gets louder and louder as she goes up to bed. I mean REALLY! But young Bette Davis was so good and so powerful. I watch this one whenever I come across it.

    1. I was never much of a Bette Davis fan, but I loved her in this.