Dark Victory (1939)
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A classic tear-jerker, Dark Victory is set apart by Bette Davis's tour-de-force performance as a willful, hedonistic socialite whose life and attitudes change dramatically after she is diagnosed with a brain tumor. Soon after the initial diagnosis, she undergoes surgery. The operation seems successful and as she heals, she falls deeply in love with the surgeon and marries him. Unfortunately, despite her husband's skill, the stubborn tumor becomes a time bomb inexorably ticking its way to her doom. … More
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Critic Reviews for Dark Victory
Guilty pleasure: One of Warner's best acted melodramas and Bette Davis's all-time favorite, in which she lives hard but dies in dignity as an heiress gone blind. Also Davis revenge as Tallulah Bankhead failed to bring the role to life in the 1934 play.
Naught but a torrid melodrama, but oh! what a humdinger of a melodrama it is! It's films like this that give trash a good name.
A classic women's pic that strings together a collection of syrupy clichés that can make a real man double up in pain.
It's horribly dated, playing today like some weird, contrived burlesque of common sense.
One of Bette Davis' best acted, most enjoyable melodrama, in which she gloriously plays a dying blind woman.
Even by the standards of a typical Bette Davis melodrama Dark Victory is an embarrassment of riches.
What happens when a three-hankie picture just isn't that sad? You get Dark Victory.
Of interest to both Goulding and Davis fans...Dark Victory catches both of them operating at their best while also learning new tricks from each other.
A classic women's weeper with Bette Davis at her peak.
Classic glossy soaper that still works.
a soap opera, yes, but a pretty fine one
Audience Reviews for Dark Victory
A woman discovers that she has a brain tumor and falls in love with her doctor.
When viewed vis a vis Ikiru, Akira Kurosawa's brilliant film, Dark Victory has a lot to learn. The film posits that a patient's knowledge of his/her condition is detrimental, but Kurosawa is wiser, and the ruminations on mortality and life's usefulness are more poignant and inspiring. Though its embrasure of love, marriage, and romance feel petty against its betters, Dark Victory is a good film in and of itself, propelled by a great Bette Davis performance and George Brent's soulful gazes. Davis is delightful, and the film is saccharine in all the right places.
Overall, you should watch this if you can't get a hold of Ikiru.
This is a good movie, with good actors, and a good story. It's a dramatic and exciting thriller. I saw it a while ago, but I remember it was good.More
"I think I'll have a large order of PROGNOSIS NEGATIVE."
Bette Davis has a brain tumor and about 10 months to live. A classic that's replete with melodrama and old fashioned sentimentality.
Judith Traherne (Bette Davis) is rich and young, but also has been having dizzy/ fainting spells. She is all but dragged to the local brain surgeon, Dr. Frederick "the Animal" Steele (Brent) who tells her he needs to pop her melon open for a look-see. He goes in there, takes care of what he can (it's all very vague), but the results are pretty bad, in fact, it's "prognosis: negative". Judy only has months to live, so the doctor conspires with her friend/ personal assistant (Fitzgerald) to keep it from her, and let her live her life as always, without imminent death looming over her head. If you think this all sounds like an excellent musical comedy, while I'd agree with you, you'd best think again. Dark Victory is played pretty straight, and while there is some unintentional humor (Humphrey Bogart as an irish horse trainer replete with bad, phony accent?), it's not exploited to the point of being thoroughly enjoyable. I'm also convinced that Ronald Reagan was the David Arquette of his day, in that he's quite convincing at playing the 'dumb' guy, to the point where you're not so sure he's acting. Reagan was really... wow. And that guy got to be our president??? Dr. Emmett Brown's incredulity at Marty McFly's flippant remark that "Reagan is president in the future" seems completely warranted and even logical to me now, as I'm sure I'd react the same way if some kid from the future came back to tell me about President Arquette. Also, I realize that back in the 30s, smoking was seen as a health exercise, much in the way we treat juicing machines today, but watching the doctor smoke while talking to the patient who's lying in bed and smoking, it's a little too much. If you were to edit out the smoking scenes from this movie, it would be about 30 seconds long. Anyway, at the end of the movie, she dies, but you already knew that. What's amazing to me is, the doctor marrys her, drags her off to Vermont of all places, and then holes up in his laboratory to do unrelated research. He's so engrossed in his work, he even gets annoyed when she dares bring him his lunch. Gee, what a way to spend your last remaining days on earth, as a subservient wife to an asshole doctor in the middle of nowhere Vermont.More
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