Dark Victory [1939]

Critic Pauline Kael called this shamelessly enjoyable, vintage Bette Davis weepie a "kitsch classic," and time hasn't diminished its ability to give the tear ducts a good flushing. Davis plays a swinging socialite, living the fast life of booze, smokes, and--with the help of Humphrey Bogart as her Irish stableman--raising thoroughbred horses. When a brain tumor starts giving her headaches and eroding her vision, she falls in love with her surgeon (George Brent), who grows more determined than ever to cure her. Davis gives one of her most vibrant performances, and her costars also include Ronald Reagan and Geraldine Fitzgerald. The film received Oscar nominations for best picture, best actress, and for Max Steiner's score. --Jim Emerson

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