Classic Film Guide

Dark Victory (1939)

Bette Davis stars as a rich woman who discovers she has developed a brain tumor (something with which I have personal experience). The excellent cast includes George Brent, Humphrey Bogart, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Ronald Reagan, and Henry Travers. Ms. Davis, Max Steiner's Score (he did go up that staircase with her), and the film itself were nominated for Academy Awards. Directed by Edmund Goulding, the George Emerson Brewer Jr.-Bertram Bloch play was scripted by Casey Robinson (Captain Blood (1935)). #32 on AFI's 100 Greatest Love Stories list. #72 on AFI's 100 Most Inspiring Movies list.

Davis's character initially doesn't want to believe the diagnosis of her own doctor (Travers), so she's sent to the leading brain surgeon (Brent), who also happens to fall in love with her. Her best friend (Fitzgerald) provides excellent support. Reagan plays a carefree playboy friend of Bette's character, Bogart (who appears rather briefly) plays her employee, hired to take care of the horses in her stable! Cora Witherspoon also appears.

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