Dark Victory

Dark Victory

5.0 1
Director: Edmund Goulding

Cast: Bette Davis, George Brent, Humphrey Bogart


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Bette Davis earned an Oscar nomination for her role in the classic four-hanky tearjerker Dark Victory. 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…  See more details below


Bette Davis earned an Oscar nomination for her role in the classic four-hanky tearjerker Dark Victory. 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.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Amy Robinson
This lavish four-hankie melodrama provided Bette Davis with one of her more successful and reliable star vehicles, netting her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in the process. The story concerns a glamorous socialite/heiress who develops a potentially fatal brain tumor, a tragic event that nonetheless brings love and redemption to her previously frivolous life. Davis is a powerhouse as always -- her charisma and strength of personality dominating the picture -- and her supporting cast includes the stalwart Geraldine Fitzgerald, a wobbly Ronald Reagan, and budding star Humphrey Bogart. As one would expect, director Edmund Goulding wraps Davis up as prettily as possible, outfitting her in a variety of stylish togs and staging her numerous crises in a string of attractive settings. Laden with clichés and not ashamed to embrace the most reliable devices of emotional manipulation, Dark Victory is an unabashed bit of soap opera that revels in every one of its tear-inducing moments.
All Movie Guide - Lucia Bozzola
Adapted by Casey Robinson from a short-lived Broadway play starring Tallulah Bankhead, Dark Victory (1939) is one of Bette Davis's most affecting melodramas. Davis's superb performance taps a range of emotions, as her Judith Traherne transforms from a flippant playgirl into a spiritually redeemed terminal cancer patient, complete with a multiple hankie death scene rendered all the more poignant and moving by Davis's dramatic restraint. Fresh from her Oscar for Jezebel (1938), Davis is surrounded by a sleek production worthy of wealthy Judith, including beautiful gowns and furs by Warner designer Orry-Kelly and sparkling Ernest Haller cinematography (not to mention Humphrey Bogart and Ronald Reagan as spurned admirers). Receiving rave reviews, particularly for Davis, Dark Victory became one of four 1939 Bette Davis hits, and earned Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Actress. Davis, however, lost to Vivien Leigh for Gone With the Wind.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Warner Home Video
Region Code:
Sales rank:

Special Features

Closed Caption; New digital transfer from restored picture and audio elements; Commentary by film historian James Ursini and CNN film critic Paul Clinton; New featurette 1939: Tough Competition for Dark Victory; Theatrical trailer; Subtitles: English, Français & Español

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Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Bette Davis Judith Traherne
George Brent Dr. Frederick Steele
Humphrey Bogart Michael O'Leary
Geraldine Fitzgerald Ann King
Ronald Reagan Alec Hamin
Henry Travers Dr. Parsons
Cora Witherspoon Carrie Spottswood
Dorothy Peterson Miss Wainwright
Virginia Brissac Martha
Charles Richman Colonel Mantle
Herbert Rawlinson Dr. Carter
Leonard Mudie Dr. Driscoll
Fay Helm Miss Dodd
Lotta Williams Lucy
Wilda Bennett Actor
Richard Bond Actor
Nat Carr Actor
Mary Currier Actor
Leyland Hodgson Actor
Frank Mayo Judith's Friend
Will Morgan Actor
David Newell Actor
Wedgewood Nowell Actor
Jeffrey Sayre Actor
Maris Wrixon Actor
Eddie Graham Actor
Jack Goodrich Doctor
Marian Alden Actor
Paulette Evans Actor
Diane Bernard Agatha
Sidney Bracey Bartender
Frank Darien Anxious Little Man
Edgar Edwards Trainer
Stuart Holmes Doctor
Alexander Leftwich Specialist
Jack Mower Veterinarian
Ila Rhodes Secretary
John Ridgely Second Man
Rosella Towne Girl in Box
William Worthington First Specialist
John Harron First man

Technical Credits
Edmund Goulding Director,Songwriter
Bertram Bloch Screenwriter
David Lewis Associate Producer
Leo F. Forbstein Musical Direction/Supervision
Robert M. Haas Art Director
Ernest Haller Cinematographer
William Holmes Editor
Elsie Janis Songwriter
Robert B. Lee Sound/Sound Designer
Orry-Kelly Costumes/Costume Designer
Casey Robinson Screenwriter
Max Steiner Score Composer
Hal B. Wallis Executive Producer

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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Credits. [:47]
2. Rude Awakening. [3:07]
3. Riding Accident. [3:28]
4. More Than a Headache. [2:27]
5. Appeal to Dr. Steele. [4:42]
6. "I'm Absolutely Well." [6:25]
7. The Exam. [5:02]
8. "We've Got to Operate." [2:41]
9. Fairview Hospital. [4:13]
10. Long-Term Outlook. [2:46]
11. Life of the Party. [4:55]
12. Telling Ann. [5:07]
13. In Love. [3:15]
14. Doctor's Dilemma. [3:27]
15. Suspicion. [2:57]
16. Prognosis Negative. [4:07]
17. Humoring the Patient. [2:57]
18. Give Me Time for Tenderness. [2:58]
19. Judy Rides Again. [4:32]
20. Kindred Spirits. [5:49]
21. Forever Judy. [6:06]
22. Nothing and Everything. [3:53]
23. Darker by the Minute. [3:43]
24. Blind Devotion. [5:43]
25. Dark Victory. [2:28]
26. Hyacinths. [2:57]
27. Perchance to Dream. [2:36]
28. Cast List. [:37]


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Dark Victory 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
McCullough More than 1 year ago
Whether you're a Bette Davis fan or just a vintage movie fan in general, this film is a MUST HAVE. Made in that magic year of 1939 - - along with films like "The Wizard of Oz", "Gone With the Wind", "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and so many others - - this film has a place among the truly classic movies. Davis plays Judith, a spoiled, young heiress who parties too much and generally takes her life for granted. As the film progresses, Judith begins to mature emotionally and begins to discern what is, and is not, important about her life. Davis was Oscar nominated for her performance but lost to Vivien Leigh, who won that year for "Gone With the Wind." I've found that this is one of those films that I keep in my collection so that I can pull it out every year or two and watch it all over again.