Thursday, February 26, 2009

Cinematically the Waist

Dark Victory, 1939
Starring Bette Davis
Costumes by Orry-Kelly
Directed by Edmund Goulding

What's better than a hard-partying, glamorous socialite? Why, a hard-partying glamorous socialite who's just learned she's about to die and decides to go on a giant bender, of course. The incomparable Bette Davis is that socialite, Judith Traherne, all brass and tits, furs and gowns, booze and horse-riding.

And she's from Long Island! How times have changed, right? She develops a series of headaches and vague symptoms of vertigo, which she writes off as plain hangovers. We've all been there, girl. Turns out, though, she's actually dying from some random neurological disease that requires the brilliant surgical mind of a brilliant and hot young surgeon, played by George Brent. The surgery, though ridding her of her dizzy spells and double-vision (and leaving her with a bald spot, which she chicly covers with a series of little yarmulke-esque hats, see below) is unsuccessful and she's going to die anyway.

So, naturally, her best friend and the hot, young surgeon lie to her about everything. But here's the real kicker: she won't feel sick or different in any conceivable way until literally a few hours before she dies. Once she finally learns that she is going to die, however, Judy let's the dogs out and drinks the entire northeast coast under the table, before realizing that she wants to die with dignity and in a well-lit position that favors her cheekbones.

Oh, and there's little Ronnie Regan. Who was surprisingly, sort of a fox. How times have changed, indeed.

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