NEVER A LOVE SO EXQUISITE! SHE SMILED AT THE COST, AND BRAVELY PAID THE RECKONING WHEN HER HAPPY HEART’S HAPPY DANCING WAS ENDED!
Cancer is a disease that used to be reserved for courageous screen heroines in particular, but this movie is a fine example of how Hollywood used to turn predictability into great entertainment. It’s interesting to see how unrealistically the disease is portrayed – damned if a dying lady should be forced to face death without decent makeup! Bette Davis is very good as the 23-year-old socialite whose carefree life is shattered by a brain tumour. This simple soaper cleverly guides the victim and the audience through feelings of fear, joy of life and later on irrevocable despair. Ronald Reagan is fun in an early part.
1939-U.S. 106 min. B/W. Produced by David Lewis. Directed by Edmund Goulding. Screenplay: Casey Robinson. Play: George Emerson Brewer, Jr., Bertram Bloch. Cast: Bette Davis (Judith Trahearne), George Brent (Fred Steele), Humphrey Bogart (Michael O’Leary), Geraldine Fitzgerald, Ronald Reagan, Cora Witherspoon… Henry Travers.
Trivia: The original ending, where Judith’s horse wins a race and Michael is moved to tears, was cut. Remade as Stolen Hours (1963) and for TV in 1976.
Last word: “The character of Anne was… to act as a sort of one-person Greek chorus, so that the central doomed figure would not have to cry for herself. The friend would do it. This was a wonderful idea and strengthened the drama immeasurably (regardless of how it was going to be played or by whom). Edmund Goulding believed that it was the absence of such a character in the original… that forced Judith into too much suffering and made the play fail.” (Fitzgerald, “Edmund Goulding’s Dark Victory”)