And now for a break from Mexican swine flu, American politicos and Venezuelan petty tyrants: It’s time for Dark Victory – again.
Perhaps the biggest miscast part of Humphrey Bogart’s career was his Irish stable boy in Dark Victory.
Why anyone would cast Bogey as an Irish stable boy is not clear. Maybe the casting director wanted Humphrey Bogart to embarrass himself, or maybe they thought it’d be a good “stretch”. Or perhaps he was cheap and available.
Anyway, he was hot in that all the same.
I blogged about it a while ago,
The first time I saw Dark Victory I must have been 10 or 12 years old and was probably watching it with my sister. We cried our guts out, of course.
The trailer has it right: “See Glamorous BETTE DAVIS.” Glamorous she is. Bette wears a succession of spectacular outfits, including evening gowns by Orry-Kelly, that would look stylish today. You can sit there and learn all there is to be learned about what was considered The Look in 1939 just from watching this film.
Bette has an incurable brain tumor and is dying through the whole movie. George Brent is her doctor, who, unlike House – who would have laid the truth on her like a thick (and very unstylish) wet polartec blanket – doesn’t want her to know that she’s dying. After brain surgery that spared her hair – except for a small section that she covers with a clerical-looking beanie dyed and decorated to match each spectacular outfit – George and Bette’s friends (among them Ronald Reagan) keep up a clearly contrived brave front.
And then Bette finds out.
Of course, Bette does what any reasonable glamorous socialite would do under the circumstances: she runs out in her mink coat to the barn where Irish stable boy, Michael O’Leary, played by Humphrey Bogart, awaits.
Bogey’s his usual smoldering self, and has the best lines in the movie. There they are in the stables, Bette smokin’ and Bogey in her presence, saying,
“I guess I was born out of my time, Miss Judith. I should have lived in the days when it counted to be a man, the way I like to ride and the way I like to fight.”
Michael/Bogey goes on:
“What good’s ridin’ and fightin’ these days? What do they get you?”
Beanie-wearing Bette appraises him with a knowing glance, lets out a puff of smoke, and replies,
“You”re making love to me, aren’t you?”
But wait, there’s more:
Michael/Bogey: “I’m as good as some of them whose been playin’ around with you. They’re all afraid of you! I wish I was in their boots!”
Judy/Bette: “What then, Michael?”
Michael/Bogey: “The things I wanted to say to you ever since I first laid eyes on you belong to me and no one else.”
Then he takes her in his arms and kisses her passionately.
Later in the movie Michael/Bogey recovers from his unfortunate episode of fake Irishness and manages to get himself a nice trench coat and fedora right before Bette/Judy goes blind and dies, so at least he had a happy ending.
Here’s looking at you, kid.