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DARK VICTORY

Director: EDMUND GOULDING

U.S.A.| 1939. BLACK AND WHITE. 104 MIN.


‘Judith’s strength and courage affected me very personally,’ said Davis about her role here, her own personal favourite. She plays a spoilt heiress who is diagnosed with a brain tumour and compelled to re-evaluate her life.

‘A completely cynical appraisal would dismiss it as emotional flim-flam,’ wrote critic Frank Nugent at the time, ‘but it is impossible to be that cynical about it.’ Not even eccentricities amongst the supporting cast like Humphrey Bogart’s Irish horse-trainer and Ronald Reagan’s alcoholic wastrel can unbalance the film. Davis’s performance is flawless, completely without self-pity, not least in the memorable finale when she casually remarks that the sun must have gone under a cloud and then, feeling its heat on her hand, realises her eyesight is failing and the end is near. The last close-up is heart-rending.

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