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Dark Victory (1939)

Approved | | Drama, Romance | 22 April 1939 (USA)
A young socialite is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, and must decide whether or not 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:
Dr. Parsons
Cora Witherspoon ...
Dorothy Peterson ...
Miss Wainwright
Virginia Brissac ...
Charles Richman ...
Col. Mantle
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


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

22 April 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Amarga victoria  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Based on a play that opened at the Plymouth Theatre in New York on Nov. 9, 1934 (with Tallulah Bankhead originating the role of Judith Traherne) and ran for 51 performances. See more »


When Judith is riding the horse and the horse refuses the jump and falls down, Judith (or the stunt-rider) falls on her left side. But in the next scene, when Ann asks, 'How's the shoulder?' Judith wiggles her right shoulder and says it's 'all right.' 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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Featured in Baby Blue Marine (1976) See more »


Vienna Blood
(1873) (uncredited)
Music by Johann Strauss
Played at the restaurant
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Bette's victory
3 November 2004 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

"Dark Victory" is a classic film of the 30s. In some movies, like this one, all the elements came together to create a satisfying entertainment that has delighted audiences since its release in 1939. Edmund Golding was instrumental in getting one of the best performances out of Bette Davis. The movie is helped by the fine score of Max Steiner.

As Judith Treherne, Bette Davis shows us why she was a great actress. She does some of her best work in this picture. Her interpretation of the socialite is right on target. Ms. Davis goes from a happy go lucky rich girl into the woman who has to face an imminent death. This film is so enjoyable because of the nuances Ms. Davis brought to the role. Bette Davis' range was enormous.

George Brent, as the medical specialist who tries to help Judith, and falls in love with her in the process, is also quite good as Dr. Steele. Geraldine Fitzgerald is wonderful as Ann, Judith's loyal friend. Humphrey Bogart appears briefly as the horse trainer. Henry Travers put in a small appearance as the doctor who brought Judith into the world, and sadly, is not able to help her much. Also in the cast, Ronald Reagan, who doesn't have much to do.

This is the perfect film to watch the wonderful Bette Davis at her best.

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