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Directed by Edmund Goulding

United States 1939 104 mins.

Dark Victory is a highly emotional, unforgiving piece of classical cinema about the choices one might make when learning of imminent death. Bette Davis stars in one of her most sensitive and magnetic roles, for which she was again nominated for an Academy Award—a regular occurrence by 1939. As Judith (a role originated on Broadway by Tallulah Bankhead), Davis plays a young Long Island socialite with a carefree attitude toward life, who suddenly begins to experience unexpected accidents that lead to a very serious diagnosis by a brain researcher Dr. Frederick Steele (George Brent). When Judith learns the truth—following her engagement to Steele—she realizes that she must try to enjoy life before it’s unceremoniously taken from her. Dark Victory, a gut-wrenching yet crucial film from Hollywood’s most storied year, is, “even by the standards of a typical Bette Davis melodrama…an embarrassment of riches.”—Keith Uhlich, Slant Magazine.

Genres: Melodrama

Appears in: Bette & Joan



The Northwest Film Center recognizes and honors the Indigenous peoples of this region on whose ancestral lands the museum now stands. These include the Willamette Tumwater, Clackamas, Kathlemet, Molalla, Multnomah and Watlala Chinook Peoples and the Tualatin Kalapuya who today are part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and many other Native communities who made their homes along the Columbia River. We also want to recognize that Portland today is a community of many diverse Native peoples who continue to live and work here. We respectfully acknowledge and honor all Indigenous communities—past, present, future—and are grateful for their ongoing and vibrant presence.