I cried. I cried myself to sleep after I saw this.
That means it works and it also means that I’m not going to say too much about it. Bette Davis, full of life and vigour as the doomed Judith Traherne, is exceptional in this. Now I love Bette at the best of times, so a film designed to showcase her talent to the full is always going to appeal to me. So what if the elements around her aren’t quite right? Bette shines in Dark Victory, she positively radiates.
George Brent as Dr Steele lacks charisma and there isn’t much chemistry between him and Bette, in terms of on-screen partnerships the key scene between Bette and Bogey is a comparative sizzler. Brent actually clicks pretty well with Geraldine Fitzgerald (as Ann, Judith’s closest friend) and it all just seems a bit of a shuffled pack. Not that I could see Brent playing the Bogart role , nor Fitzgerald replacing Davis at all! Bogey plays the trainer of Traherne’s horses, a sometimes Irish man called Michael O’Leary- I say sometimes because he occasionally has an Irish accent but usually doesn’t- and his job is to look a bit rough and to take no shit. He does the role okay but has still not quite grown from actor to star yet. Bogart’s big scene with Davis is great but aside from that he, like everyone else on screen, is little better than wallpaper. On the bright-side, this comparative invisibility amongst the support players meant that I didn’t get to notice and be infuriated by Ronald the Ray Gun. A mercy. 7/10.