Dark Victory

1939

Dark Victory (1939)

TOMATOMETER

——

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

AUDIENCE SCORE


Want to See

Not Interested

Add Rating
My Rating    

Dark Victory Photos

Movie Info

Bette Davis earned an Oscar nomination for her role in this classic four-hanky tearjerker. Judith Traherne (Bette Davis) is a very wealthy Long Island heiress whose life is a constant whirl of cocktails, parties, and wild living. Despite her hedonistic lifestyle, Judith derives little pleasure from life except for her horses, cared for by stable master Michael O'Leary (Humphrey Bogart). When Judith begins suffering from headaches and dizzy spells, Dr. Frederick Steele (George Brent) gives her the bad news: she has a brain tumor that could threaten her life if not treated immediately. Judith consents to surgery, and Frederick informs her that the operation was a success. A grateful Judith quickly falls in love with Frederick, and they plan to marry. However, the tumor returns, and when Judith discovers that she has only a few months to live, she calls off the wedding, convinced that Frederick is marrying her only as an act of pity for a dying woman. A major success and perennial favorite, Dark Victory was later remade as Stolen Hours with Susan Hayward and as a TV movie starring Elizabeth Montgomery.

Watch it now

Cast

Bette Davis
as Judith Traherne
George Brent
as Dr. Frederick Steele
Humphrey Bogart
as Michael O'Leary
Ronald Reagan
as Alec Hamin
Cora Witherspoon
as Carrie Spottswood
Henry Travers
as Dr. Parsons
Dorothy Peterson
as Miss Wainwright
Charles Richman
as Col. Mantle
Leonard Mudie
as Dr. Driscoll
Fay Helm
as Miss Dodd
Jack Mower
as Veterinarian
Ila Rhodes
as Secretary
Frank Darien
as Anxious Little Man
Rosella Towne
as Girl in Box
Nat Carr
as Doctor
Maris Wrixon
as Judith's Friend
Richard Bond
as Judith's Friend
Wilda Bennett
as Judith's Friend
Leyland Hodgson
as Judith's Friend
Mary Currier
as Judith's Friend
David Newell
as Judith's Friend
Marian Alden
as Judith's Friend
Paulette Evans
as Judith's Friend
Frank Mayo
as Judith's Friend
Sidney Bracey
as Bartender
Speirs Buskell
as Dr. Steele's Assistant
View All

Critic Reviews for Dark Victory

All Critics (21) | Top Critics (1)

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.

Apr 30, 2007 | Rating: A- | Full Review…
Variety
Top Critic

One of the finest weepies ever made by Hollywood. Davis is nothing short of magnificent.

Jun 11, 2015 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Bette Davis loses her sight, and we gain a classic.

Dec 22, 2010 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

Bette Davis's frisky sprint sets the pace

Sep 6, 2009 | Full Review…

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.

Apr 27, 2009 | Rating: 8/10 | Full Review…

A classic women's pic that strings together a collection of syrupy clichés that can make a real man double up in pain.

Apr 9, 2008 | Rating: C | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Dark Victory

½

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.

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

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.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

"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.

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

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.

Devon Bott
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

Dark Victory Quotes

News & Features