Dark Victory is a 1939 American drama film directed by Edmund Goulding, starting Bette Davis, George Brent, Humphrey Bogart, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Ronald Reagan and Cora Witherspoon.
The plot follows the story of Judith Traherne, a young, carefree Long Island socialite and heiress with a passion for fast cars, horses, partying and too much drinking and smoking. She ignores her severe headaches and brief dizziness, double and blurred vision, but when she falls off a horse, then falls downstairs, her secretary and best friend Ann King insists she visit the family doctor, who sends her to a specialist. Dr. Frederick Steele does a diagnostic test on Judy and confirms that she needs surgery to remove a malignant glioma brain tumor.
Steele discovers the tumor can’t be completely removed and realizes Judy has less than a year to live. The result will be painless and fast, but she will experience complete blindness and will die. Steele lies to Ann and Judy about the success of the surgery. Ann becomes suspicious and confronts him and he admits. He tells Ann Judy mustn’t know ever. Ann agrees to stay silent and continue to fib. Judith and Steele fall in love and eventually engaged.
Her Stablemaster Michael O’Leary, who for years has been in love with her, tells her of her troubled behavior and she confessed that she is dying. Their words convince her that she’s should spend her final months happy with the man she loves. She apologizes to Steele, they marry and move to Vermont.
Thieves film although it came out in 1939, shows how a brain tumor can lead to blindness and how people cope with it, which can be applied to today’s world. Bette Davis does an outstanding job as Judith Traherne, making the character seem like a real person. She doesn’t leave out one single emotion.
George Brent is great as Dr. Frederick Steele. He loves Judy, although he knows he is going to lose her. He gives her a forever within the numbered days they have. Geraldine Fitzgerald is fantastic as Ann King, the secretary and best friend of Judy. She stays by her side throughout the entire film, helping her out along the way. She a wonderful friend.
Humphrey Bogart is good, not great as stablemaster Michael O’Leary. His role isn’t as big as most of his others were. He uses short sentences and he is supposed to be in love with Judy, but only says so in one scene. He could’ve done better in this character, but it have been the screenwriter’s fault.
There is no humor in this film at all. Your heart gets warmed, then broken. This movie isn’t a very happy one, in fact, it’s really pretty depressing, but that doesn’t make it bad. It isn’t one that can be watched over and over again, as it is very sad. But it is wonderful from start to finish. You want it to turn out fine in the end. Despite the depressing nature of this movie, it is still a classic that will always make you cry. It has passion, sadness and friendship. It is such a heartbreaking story, but is so well done. Bette Davis lives on! 4.5/5