DARK VICTORY (1939) B/W 106m dir: Edmund Goulding
w/Bette Davis, George Brent, Humphrey Bogart, Geraldine Fitzgerald (debut), Ronald Reagan, Henry Travers, Cora Witherspoon, Virginia Brissac, Dorothy Peterson, Charles Richman
Absolutely the best terminal-illness soap opera, this film contains one of Davis' strongest performances. She transforms the material. Bogart is rather miscast as an Irish stable hand, yet there's an intriguing gentleness to his performance. (It wouldn't be until 1942's CASABLANCA that Warners would realize his romantic potential.)
From The Movie Guide: "Davis is the centerpiece of this film version of the Tallulah Bankhead stage vehicle, faring better early on when she slams through her scenes in her most hyperthyroid manner. She knows it's cliche stuff, and she's determined to wow you anyhow --- barking in her most clipped manner, guzzling cocktails with 'little Ronnie Reagan' (as Davis always called him), and brandishing her riding crop at miscast stablehand Bogie.
"When hedonistic heiress Davis discovers she has a brain tumor, the pace drops to allow romance in the form of George Brent, her doctor. Thank God she stiff-upper-lips it through their short-lived marriage; he's the soggiest newlywed ever, and looks as if his practice consists of trimming his pencil-thin mustache. There is a fine assist from newcomer Geraldine Fitzgerald, as Davis's best girlfriend and Edmund Goulding has elevated the form wherever he can. Unfortunately, when Davis climbs the stairs for the last time, composer Max Steiner goes with her. Remade in 1963 as THE STOLEN HOURS."
The film was nominated for Oscars for Best Picture, Actress (Davis), and Original Score (Steiner, also nominated that same year for GONE WITH THE WIND).