Dark Victory (1939)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  22 April 1939 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 7,081 users  
Reviews: 72 user | 49 critic

A young socialite is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour, and must decide whether she'll meet her final days with dignity.



(screen play), (from the play by), 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
George Brent ...
Dr. Parsons
Cora Witherspoon ...
Dorothy Peterson ...
Miss Wainwright
Virginia Brissac ...
Charles Richman ...
Colonel Mantle
Herbert Rawlinson ...
Dr. Carter
Leonard Mudie ...
Dr. Driscoll
Fay Helm ...
Miss Dodd
Lottie Williams ...


Judith Traherne is at the height of young society when Dr. Frederick Steele diagnoses a brain tumor. After surgery she falls in love with Steele. The doctor tells her secretary that the tumor will come back and eventually kill her. Learning this, Judith becomes manic and depressive. Her horse trainer Michael, who loves her, tells her to get as much out of life as she can. She marries Steele who intends to find a cure for her illness. As he goes off to a conference in New York failing eyesight indicates to Judith that she is dying. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


"I've Crammed EVERY MINUTE SO FULL of waste. And now there's so little time. I don't know what to do. I'm afraid!"


Drama | Romance


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Release Date:

22 April 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Amarga victoria  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Gossip columnist Hedda Hopper was notorious for not verifying her sources. She reported that director Edmund Goulding had engaged Sigmund Freud as technical adviser for "Dark Victory." If she had checked on her scoop, she would have found out that the world's most famous psychiatrist had been dead for several months. See more »


Amblyopia is the medical term used when the vision in one of the eyes is reduced because the eye and the brain are not working together properly; and can be seen with a cancer. And is never called strabismus. Strabismus, more commonly known as cross-eyed or wall-eyed, is a vision condition in which a person can not align both eyes simultaneously under normal conditions. One or both of the eyes may turn in, out, up or down. And is never referred to as lazy eye by healthcare professionals. See more »


[first lines]
Michael O'Leary: [on the phone] Hello, there. Is this the house? I've been trying to get you.
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Vienna Blood
(1873) (uncredited)
Music by Johann Strauss
Played at the restaurant
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User Reviews

The ultimate tear-jerker!
3 May 2001 | by (Canberra, Australia) – See all my reviews

Not only is this sublime classic the greatest tear-jerker of all time (well, let's call it a tie with "Lassie Come Home"), it also contains one of the greatest performances ever given by Bette Davis. In the hands of a lesser actress this movie could have been a soppy pot-boiler. In the hands of Ms Davis it is close to being a masterpiece. If most of the supporting players can't match her it's no wonder - Bette is truly inspired here! The normally fine Geraldine Fitzgerald seems rather self-conscious in a difficult role (and an early one for her), and George Brent can't handle the really emotional stuff. But Bogart is stunning in that sexually charged scene with Bette in the stables. Ronnie doesn't have much to do, but Virginia Brissac is memorable as Martha and Henry Travers terrific as the old doctor.

Above all this is the excellent direction of Edmund Goulding, the fine cinematography of Ernest Haller and the great music of Max Steiner. Sure, dying in real life is never this beautiful, but don't we all wish we could go out with the style that Bette Davis does? Be warned: the last 15 minutes of this film are almost torturously moving - but then ALL of "Lassie Come Home" is. And don't we just love a good cry!

30 of 45 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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