Warner Bros. Pictures presents "DARK VICTORY" (1944) (104 min/B&W) -- Starring: Bette Davis, George Brent, Humphrey Bogart, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Ronald Reagan, Henry Travers, Cora Witherspoon, Dorothy Peterson, Virginia Brissac, Charles Richman
Directed by Edmund Goulding
A quote from Bette Davis in her finest hour in "Dark Victory" -- "Nothing can hurt us now. What we have can't be destroyed. That's our victory - our victory over the dark. It is a victory because we're not afraid".
An actress who was at the top of her game at the time of the release of this film, Bette Davis displays a marvelous gamut of emotions which layer her facial features and body language. Geraldine Fitzgerald, playing her friend and secretary Ann, is equally understated but moving as the one who stays by Judith's side
Swept into the current of events was Bogart playing an Irish horse trainer, who fails in an attempt to make love to her, yet encourages her to enjoy her time with her true love, George Brent.
Davis provides scene after scene with the special magic only she was able of bringing vividly to the screen.
This without a doubt one of the finest films of Bette Davis career, heart-wrenching, with her skill evident in every scene she's in. With an able supporting cast, especially by Geraldine Fitzgerald and George Brent, and a fine Max Steiner score, films don't get much better than that. I loved the scene where she orders "prognosis negative" in a restaurant just to let Brent and Fitzgerald know that she knows she's been lied to about her condition - what a show stopper that is.
Nominated Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Bette Davis), Best Music, Original Score (Max Steiner), Best Picture (Warner Bros. and First National).
* Special Footnote: -- Bette Davis said that this was her favorite role to play. This was Bette Davis' third Oscar nomination in five years, and her second of five consecutive nominations, was Bette Davis' biggest moneymaker up to that point in her career. Bette Davis said that the movie took four weeks to shoot. ** Bette Davis pestered Warner Brothers to buy the rights to the story, thinking it a great vehicle for her. WB studio chief Jack L. Warner fought against it, arguing that no one wanted to see someone go blind. Of course, the film went on to become one of the studio's biggest successes of that year.
** Another Special Footnote: -- Off screen, Bette Davis suffered a nervous breakdown during filming as a result of her crumbling marriage to Harmon Nelson. This didn't prevent her from embarking on an affair with co-star George Brent.
1. Edmund Goulding (Director)
Date of Birth: 20 March 1891 - Feltham, Middlesex, England, UK
Date of Death: 24 December 1959 - Los Angeles, California
2. Bette Davis [aka: Ruth Elizabeth Davis]
Date of Birth: 5 April 1908 - Lowell, Massachusetts, USA
Date of Death: 6 October 1989 - Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine, France
3. George Brent [aka: George Brendan Nolan]
Date of Birth: 15 March 1899 - Shannonbridge, Offaly, Ireland
Date of Death: 26 May 1979 - Solana Beach, California
4. Humphrey Bogart
Date of Birth: 25 December 1899 - New York City, New York
Date of Death: 14 January 1957 - Los Angeles, California
5. Geraldine Fitzgerald
Date of Birth: 24 November 1913 - Dublin, Ireland
Date of Death: 17 July 2005 - New York City, New York
6. Ronald Reagan [aka: Ronald Wilson Reagan]
Date of Birth: 6 February 1911 - Tampico, Illinois
Date of Death: 5 June 2004, Bel Air - Los Angeles, California
7. Henry Travers [aka: Travers John Heagerty]
Date of Birth: 5 March 1874 - Berwick-Upon-Tweed, Northumberland, England, UK
Date of Death: 18 October 1965 - Hollywood, California
*** Must make mention: -- During the filming of the emotionally-charged scene when Bette Davis' character needs to find her way upstairs to her room after the brain tumor has caused her blindness, the cast and crew and several visitors were watching as Davis grasped the banister and began to feel her way up the steps, one-by-one. Halfway to the top of the staircase, Davis paused, stopped the scene, briskly walked back downstairs, and addressed director Edmund Goulding. "Ed," Davis said, "is Max Steiner going to be composing the music score to this picture?" Goulding, surprised by the question, replied that he didn't know, and asked Davis why the matter was important enough to stop the filming of the scene. "Well, either I'm going to climb those stairs or Max Steiner going to climb those stairs," Davis responded, "but I'll be God-DAMNED if Max Steiner and I are going to climb those stairs together!"
Take note, Max Steiner was nominated for Best Music Original Score, and justly so!
Mr. Jim's Ratings:
Quality of Picture & Sound: 5 Stars
Performance: 5 Stars
Story & Screenplay: 5 Stars
Overall: 5 Stars [Original Music, Cinematography & Film Editing]
Total Time: 104 min on DVD ~ Warner Bros. Pictures ~ (June 14, 2005)