Out of all of the films screened for the 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival, I have to say the one I looked forward to the most on the big screen is “DARK VICTORY.” Somewhere deep inside me I can pretend it’s 1939 and that I am a young woman going to see BETTE DAVIS in the movies. There she was, during the height of her popularity, in all her Bette Davis~ness.
Her Judith Traherne is at once shrill, contemptuous and then finally accepting her prognosis negative. George Brent does a good job as the doctor who loves but can’t cure her. Bogie makes an appearance as a horse trainer who makes a play for her, and as her best friend…Geraldine Fitzgerald, whose great beauty is ( unsuccessfully ) tamped down by frumpy clothes. I was totally vested in this film, “Judith’s” struggle…Bette Davis’ acting.
When the inevitable happens she has to send Brent away in a touching quiet series of moments. I’m not sure if I’m just noticing it this time, on the big screen, how important it was Judith’s last meaningful moments in this life was with her best friend. Their stations in life were different, but I really FELT their friendship. #FRIENDSHIPSMATTER Davis makes her final climb up the stairs, to her bedroom to face the inevitable, when a fire alarm goes off.
YES, A BLOODY FIRE ALARM!!!
During the last 90-seconds of the movie, a white flashing light goes on and off and we hear a siren. No one moves from the theatre. The picture goes dark but the audio is on, and no one moves from the theatre. Finally the audio is turned off and announcement is made to evacuate the multiplex. WHAAAAT?!!! All my emotions were vested, frankly in Davis’ journey…in her last moments, with Max Steiner’s music and the announcement felt like a bullet in my brain. The rug was pulled out from under me. It was horrible. I was not a happy camper.
They let us all back in to our respective theatres, finishing up the movies where we left off: ( “Dark Victory” “One Potato, Two Potato” and “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” ). And they pushed back the time for our next movies. They screened those 90-seconds. I saw Davis close her eyes for the last time…but the emotion and moment was ruined. Whew!! Let the adventure begin.