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Dark Victory (1939) Poster

(1939)

Trivia

Bette Davis said that this was her favorite role to play.
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Offscreen, 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.
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Bette Davis claims that Edmund Goulding worked on the script and added the character of Judith's best friend Ann so that Judith would never have to complain about her tragedy.
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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 Steineris 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!"
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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 psychiatrists had been dead for several months.
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The scene in Dr. Steele's office where Judith can't light his cigarette, and then a few minutes later, her own, was devised by Edmund Goulding. He explained it as, "When Bette Davis can't light her own cigarette, you know something is seriously wrong with her."
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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.
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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.
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David O. Selznick had originally purchased the screen rights but gave up production plans so he could concentrate all his energies on Gone with the Wind (1939).
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This was Bette Davis' third Oscar nomination in five years, and her second of five consecutive nominations.
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The second of Bette Davis collaborations with director Edmund Goulding. They had previously worked together on That Certain Woman (1937) and would do so again on The Old Maid (1939) and The Great Lie (1941).
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Gloria Swanson had tried and failed to get the movie made a few years earlier.
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This was Bette Davis' biggest moneymaker up to that point in her career.
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In 1938, Barbara Stanwyck and Melvyn Douglas starred in a Lux Radio Theatre version of the play, and in 1939 Bette Davis and Spencer Tracy starred in another radio version of the story.
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In an interview with Dick Cavett in 1971, Bette Davis said that the movie took four weeks to shoot.
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Greta Garbo was the original choice for Judith Traherne. Merle Oberon was also considered for the role.
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"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on January 8, 1940 with Bette Davis reprising her film role.
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