Tom Gregory's Hollywood Vault radio clips, as featured on Leeza Gibbons' national radio program Hollywood Confidential!
Below is a transcript of the review on the audio file playable above.The calendar may say it’s winter, but you know what season it really is; it’s flu season, and it has you in its sneezy, stuffy, shaky squeeze. So, pack the kids off to grandma’s, get yourself some chicken soup, then settle down with a box of Kleenex, a cup of tea, and a great classic film.
Dark Victory starring the incomparable Bette Davis is about a young Long Island Socialite’s battle with mortality, men, and the meaning of life. It was released in the golden age’s most gilded year, 1939.
Rich with tear-jerking dramatics and a soaring Max Steiner score, Dark Victory fills up your living room, wrenches your soul, and entertains the beejeebies out of you. First a Broadway play starring Tallulah Bankhead, David O’Selznick purchased the film rights, but he was just too darned busy at MGM making GWTW, so he sold the coveted script to Warner brothers for $50,000.
Bette Davis feverishly petitioned the man she loved to hate, Jack Warner for the coveted lead of Judith Traherne, bulldozing over some of Hollywood’s best broads, to rocket in the role to an Academy Award nomination. Vivien Leigh won that year for her portrayal of the legendary Scarlet O’Hara, but Davis clearly came in a strong second.
Dark Victory is one of this reporter’s favorite flicks, but it isn’t flawless. Its got one mildly miscast Humphrey Bogart, just before his career blossomed, playing an Irish stable hand, but surprisingly Ronald Reagan is actually likable as a roguish rake of a pleasure-seeking playboy. Speaking of playboys, the film’s director Edmund Goulding, was the king of the multi-gender casting couch. His parties and promiscuity were as notorious as any Hollywood had ever hosted.
So, when winter weather frosts you feet, and freezes your fanny, go battle the unbeatable with Bette Davis as she, jerks your tears and finally finds her peace in the green, rolling hills of Vermont.