People, prepare yourself for an awful lot of ALL CAPS. Why? Because I am EXCITED.

I just watched a FANTASTIC movie called “Dark Victory,” with Bette Davis, some random dude as the love interest, named DR. FREDERICK STEELE, a very young Humphrey Bogart as a stable boy, and Ronald Reagan as a good time Charlie and drunk.


Long story short, this proud, rich girl (Bette) discovers from this famous brain surgeon (clearly, a somewhat sci-fi career in 1939) that she has – not a brain tumor or brain cancer, but a “growth.” He operates, even though she is very fearful, and afterwards learns that it is malignant. How long does he have to wait for test results to come back? Thirty seconds. That’s all it took. The other surgeon just looks at it and goes, “it’s malignant.”

So, instead of telling her she is going to die in 10 months, he tells her best friend. Her best friend asks in a quavering voice whether she will suffer. He then tells her, helpfully, that about four hours before she dies, her vision will dim, then be gone altogether, but other than that, she will be totally symptom free for ten months. He knows this. Don’t ask me how, but he appears pretty certain. He then tells the best friend, SHE MUST NEVER KNOW.

Yes, they must keep it secret from her that she is dying. Friends, I tell you, go look up this movie for no other reason than to hear DR. FREDERICK STEELE deliver the line, SHE MUST NEVER KNOW.


So, DR. FREDERICK STEELE falls in love with Bette (naturally) and decides to marry her to make her last few months super happy.

Bette’s best friend is appalled by all this deception (SHE MUST NEVER KNOW!), but doesn’t do anything about it.

Just before moving off to Vermont, Bette happens upon her case file. She sees all these concurring opinions from different doctors that she has a “PROGNOSIS NEGATIVE.”

Perplexed, she asks DR. FREDERICK STEELE’S secretary, “what does prognosis mean?” and the woman goes, “what’s going to happen in the future,” and then Bette asks, “what does negative mean?” and the woman goes, “that there’s no hope.”

Bette, who has heretofore seemed very bright and well read, asks the woman, “what does negative mean?”

Answer, “that there’s no hope.”

You can see why this is the BEST MOVIE I’VE EVER SEEN.

Davis and Bogart

Humphrey Bogart, Stablehand. Bette Davis, Awesome.

So then Bette makes a glorious scene, breaking up with the doctor and her best friend, and then goes through an entertaining period of hard drinking and hard riding (there’s a lot of upper class white Connecticut horse riding in this movie) but rebuffs the advances of Humphrey Bogart, who demands of her, IS IT BECAUSE I AM A STABLEHAND?!?!

Of course, it’s really because she’s still in love with the doctor.

So, she comes around and decides to marry him after all, and they go off to Vermont.


Bette is sitting in this huge country kitchen with not one but two servants behind her, reading a letter from her best friend Ann about some horse show, and she says:

“Oh, why do people make their lives so complicated with their big houses and all their horses? Here we have nothing, Martha (Martha being the white servant) but we’re as happy as we can be!”


“Here we have nothing, Martha, but we’re as happy as we can be!”


If only Martha had been given a line in reply.

Bogart randomly shows up for a visit and she tells him to put Challenger (her favorite horse) in the Grand National. He tells her, “you look great, Judy, why, you make me think all these prayers I’m saying are actually working.”

Bette says good-bye to him and then runs up to her best friend going, “there’s a storm coming! The sky is getting darker.”


So we know Bette’s totally about to kick it. In about four hours. And so does Bette.

Dying Bette

This is where she kicks it.

Bette then sends her doctor husband off to New York to win some prestigious doctory award, and then, with the help of her best friend, she plants some hyacinths, the doctor’s favorite flower, WHILE BLIND AND DYING.

I’m telling you, BEST MOVIE EVER.

She then sends her best friend away and goes upstairs and dies.



Best freaking movie I’ve ever seen.

Addendum: My friends Wooster and Bond inform me that it is a tragedy that a USC Film grad was not previously familiar with Dark Victory, the best movie that was ever made. I concur. Bond adds, “that random dude is George Brent.” Apparently he was a notorious womanizer and blah, blah, blah super famous blah, blah, blah made a lot of movies. All I know is, he played DR. FREDERICK STEELE and gave me my favorite movie line of all time, “SHE MUST NEVER KNOW.”

3 thoughts on “VICTORY, INDEED

  1. Carolyn says:

    See, here’s my thing – I, of course, worship the ground Bette Davis walks on, but I tend to watch the same handful of movies over and over, and mostly watch All About Eve over and over. I’ve always been the same way about books, too, but this year I’ve branched out. I must do the same with the Bette Davis canon, as well.

  2. anal isa says:

    I will add that not just as a USC Film Grad, but as a woman it is a tragedy that you were not previously familiar with this little gem. Wait. Does this mean you have NOT gone through EVERY Bette Davis movie and jotted down notes on how to live your life? Curious. 😉

Leave a Reply