Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dark Victory (1939)

Back in my early teens, Kim Carnes sang of a woman with Bette Davis eyes. There were two things that I didn't know back then: what the hell that meant, and that Kim Carnes sucked.

Bette Davis overacts as rich Long Island socialite Judith Traherne, who has been having headaches and dizzy spells. Dr. Frederick Steele, played by a cardboard cut out of George Brent, is the dashing brain surgeon who convinces her she needs surgery, and fast!

Humphry Bogart get third billing (third billing!?!?) as a horse trainer with an Irish accent (an Irish accent!?!?!?) He wants to nail Judith but doesn't get to (he doesn't get to?!?!?!?) This was before Casablanca, so Bogie wasn't calling the shots just yet.

Ronald Reagan played a rich, shallow playboy (a rich, shallow ... no, that's about right) who doesn't have much to say. He got forth billing.

Well, the surgery is a complete success and Judith can go back to being the happy-go-lucky socialite without distractions. She falls in love with Dashing Doctor, Dashing Doctor falls in love with her, then she finds out what "Prognosis Negative" means. Spoiler alert: she's gonna die anyhow. After a brief hissy fit (Bogie's best chance, just missed) she goes running back apologetically to Dashing Doctor. They marry, move to Vermont ("What do you do there in between yawns?") to live out her life without regret. Then she gets what every young lady ever really wants: a 45 minute death scene.

Not my cup of tea. It was nominated for best picture, but this was the year of The Wizard of Oz and some costume drama about the civil war, I forget. It's not a bad film, and better than most of the movies I've rated a 3, but I really don't need to see it again.

One final word about Bette's eyes. There were two of them, mostly the same size and evenly spaced, and used to collect visual information. Except towards the end there. Kim Carnes sucks.

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