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Dark Victory (1939)

Approved | | Drama, Romance | 22 April 1939 (USA)
A young socialite is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, and must decide whether or not she'll meet her final days with dignity.

Director:

Edmund Goulding

Writers:

Casey Robinson (screen play), George Emerson Brewer Jr. (from the play by) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Bette Davis ... Judith Traherne
George Brent ... Dr. Frederick Steele
Humphrey Bogart ... Michael O'Leary
Geraldine Fitzgerald ... Ann King
Ronald Reagan ... Alec
Henry Travers ... Dr. Parsons
Cora Witherspoon ... Carrie
Dorothy Peterson ... Miss Wainwright
Virginia Brissac ... Martha
Charles Richman ... Col. Mantle
Herbert Rawlinson ... Dr. Carter
Leonard Mudie ... Dr. Driscoll
Fay Helm ... Miss Dodd
Lottie Williams Lottie Williams ... Lucy
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Storyline

Judith Traherne is at the height of young society when Dr. Frederick Steele diagnoses a brain tumor. After surgery she falls in love with Steele. The doctor tells her secretary that the tumor will come back and eventually kill her. Learning this, Judith becomes manic and depressive. Her horse trainer Michael, who loves her, tells her to get as much out of life as she can. She marries Steele who intends to find a cure for her illness. As he goes off to a conference in New York failing eyesight indicates to Judith that she is dying. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

"I've Crammed EVERY MINUTE SO FULL of waste. And now there's so little time. I don't know what to do. I'm afraid!"

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

22 April 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dark Victory See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Greta Garbo was the original choice for Judith Traherne. Merle Oberon was also considered for the role. See more »

Goofs

(at around 56 mins) There is a brief shot of a violinist miming badly to the soundtrack. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Michael O'Leary: [on the phone] Hello, there. Is this the house? I've been trying to get you.
Miss Wainwright: Michael, do you realize it's 5:30 in the morning?
Lucy - a Servant: Who is it Agatha?
Miss Wainwright: [to Lucy] That Michael.
[agitatedly to Michael as a different phone line rings]
Miss Wainwright: We had a party last night and the last guest hasn't driven out of the driveway yet.
Lucy - a Servant: [answering the other ringing line] Hello, kitchen. Lucy speaking... yes Miss Ann.
Ann King: [irritatedly in bed] What's that racket? The telephone's been ringing all over the house... I'll ...
[...]
See more »

Alternate Versions

Also available in computer-coloured version. See more »

Connections

Featured in Midnight Cowboy (1969) See more »

Soundtracks

OH, GIVE ME TIME FOR TENDERNESS
(1939) (uncredited)
Music by Edmund Goulding
Lyrics by Elsie Janis
Sung by Vera Van
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
The Epitome of Davis Soaps
13 February 2003 | by willowgreenSee all my reviews

Bette Davis always cited this as her favourite role: it is probably on a par with Margo Channing in ALL ABOUT EVE as the part which fans identify with as definitive Davis. Naturally, this 1939 film will look a little musty, corny and cliched to modern day viewers, but the poignant sincerity in which Davis instilled via her magnificent performance still has the ability to leave the viewer in helpless tears: you can be dumbfounded to think that something so obviously aimed at your tear ducts could succeed to induce the flow so completely and spontaneously! The role is based upon a 1934 play in which Tallulah Bankhead flopped. The character of Ann King was written especially for the film by director Edmund Goulding: as a kind of Greek Chorus so Judith wouldn't have to complain about the inevitable. Geraldine Fitzgerald, in her American film debut, does a wondrous job with the part of Ann: a beautifully etched supporting performance. As Michael O'Leary, Humphrey Bogart is unfortunately inept in the Irish brogue department (why couldn't they have simply cut out the accent?) and George Brent is adequately wooden as Dr. Frederick Steele whom Judy marries. Davis slams through a gooey collection of cliches in her nerviest style during the early segments but her metamorphasis into a vibrantly humbled married woman is quite a striking contrast to the selfishly brazen spoiled heiress: truly a multi-faceted performance. Ronald Reagan gets to play Alec, one of Judy's drunken swains, and Cora Witherspoon is memorable as the snotty Carrie. The last twenty minutes of the film are expertly crafted and timelessly tear-jerking: the movie sold more kleenex than any other of its day.


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