“Confidentially, darling, this is more than a hang-over.”
A headstrong young heiress (Bette Davis) with an inoperable brain tumor falls in love with her surgeon (George Brent), believing he’s cured her — but how will she react when she finds out that both Brent and her best friend (Geraldine Fitzgerald) are lying to her?
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that this “famous Warner Bros. weeper features [a] powerhouse performance from a truly lovely, appealing Bette Davis”, who — “in her favorite role” — plays “a kind, strong-minded heiress who has frittered her life away partying, riding horses, [and] shopping”, but must confront her own mortality when she begins “suffer[ing] vision problems” and learns that her “prognosis is negative”. I wouldn’t necessarily choose the words “kind” or “appealing” when describing Davis’s “Judy Traherne”, given that she initially comes across as sullen, brash, and spoiled — “When I tell you to do something, do it!” she barks at her horse trainer, played by a notoriously miscast Humphrey Bogart — but she does indeed later “demonstrate a tremendous reserve of strength that few women in film have shown and it’s quite moving”. As with so many “Bette Davis films”, Davis is truly the highlight of the show here: Brent (her real-life lover) is more or less “stiff and wimpy as usual” as her surgeon/love interest, and while Peary refers to Fitzgerald as “superb”, I find her doting character oddly opaque. With that said, the “direction by Edmond Goulding is both strong and sensitive”, and Davis’s character arc is compelling. As Peary notes, despite the “morbid” subject matter and the “tears caused by the drawn-out finale, the triumph of this woman at the point of death actually has a cheering effect”. Watch for Ronald Reagan in a supporting role as Davis’s consistently inebriated party companion.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Bette Davis as Judith Traherne (nominated by Peary in Alternate Oscars as one of the Best Actresses of the Year)
Yes, as a cult classic, and for Davis’s performance.
Posted on November 15th, 2013 by admin
Filed under: Response Reviews