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Dark Victory

(1939 b 104')

En: 6 Ed: 7

Based on a play by Brewer and Bloch, a young socialite learns she will die in a few a months and marries her doctor.

Horse-trainer Michael O'Leary (Humphrey Bogart) calls Judy Traherne (Bette Davis) early. Ann King (Geraldine Fitzgerald) tells Judy to fire Michael but won't do it herself. Judy rides a horse and jumps; but her vision goes blurry, and she falls. Dr. Fred Steele (George Brent) plans to leave brain surgery to do research, but Dr. Parsons (Henry Travers) asks Fred to see Judy. Fred notices her fingers are burned and questions her. Fred tells Judy that she is afraid to admit she is ill. He cancels his train ticket and tells her to get X-rays. Fred consults with doctors and tells Judy he must operate. In the hospital Fred cares for Judy. Dr. Parsons learns that Judy has ten months to live, but Fred announces that she will recover.

Judy goes home and invites Fred for cocktails to celebrate. Judy is happy, but Ann asks Fred what is wrong and learns that Judy will die after her vision dims. Judy gives Fred a present. She loves Fred and asks Ann to help her catch him. Fred and Ann discuss Judy, who calls Fred. Judy learns that Ann saw Fred and is jealous. Judy and Fred plan to marry, but Judy reads her file that a recurrence is certain with death within a year. Judy meets Fred for lunch, and Ann joins them. Judy asks Fred why he didn't tell her. She walks out and drinks with Alec (Ronald Reagan). Drunk Judy pays for an extra song, "Oh, Give Me Time."

Judy rides, smokes, and drinks. Fred tries to talk with Judy, who says she hates him. Michael tells Judy that her horse will recover. He tells Judy that they both have spirit and kisses her. Judy says that she is going to die soon. Judy finds Fred at Alec's and asks him to forgive her. Fred says he loves Judy and asks her to marry.

They live in Vermont, and Judy takes lunch to the experimenting Fred. Ann arrives to visit, and Michael tells Judy about her horse and goes back. In the garden Judy tells Ann it is getting dark. They realize the symptom, and Ann cries. Judy keeps Ann from telling Fred, who wants to present his work at a board meeting in New York. Judy tells Fred that she doesn't want to go. Fred says he won't go; but Judy says that Ann is there. Fred says good-bye to Judy and leaves. Ann helps Judy garden. Judy tells Ann what she wants her to do and then feels her way up to her room, prays, and lays down.

This moving drama of a young woman facing death alone with courage is poignant because of the true love she finds in her last months with her husband and friend Ann. Perhaps this film is another premonition of the coming deaths in the imminent world war.

Copyright © 2001 by Sanderson Beck

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