In Dark Victory, Bette Davis’ Judith Traherne continually shifts between putting on a brave face and letting it slip. A lively Long Island socialite suffering from headaches and blurred vision, Judith is diagnosed with a brain tumor by Dr. Frederick Steele (George Brent, quite a bit stiffer than he was as a Southern charmer in Jezebel, also opposite Davis). When surgery results in temporary relief but a prognosis of death within the next few months, Steele and Judith’s friend (Geraldine Fitzgerald) conspire to keep her in the dark so she can live her final days partying and in peace. Davis delivers one of her purest smiles soon after surgery, when Judith is told it was a complete success. But having Judith be unaware somewhat neutralizes the actress (she’s just not wired to play a simp). Thankfully the ruse is soon exposed and Davis is unleashed. After seeing her true diagnosis among Steele’s paperwork, she joins him and the friend for lunch and declares—her eyes widening to pools big enough for both of them to fall in—“I think I’ll have a large order of prognosis negative!” Davis gets to hit other, softer notes as the film comes to its tragic conclusion. At closing time in a club she begs the orchestra to play an encore of their last song, “Oh, Give Me Time for Tenderness.” At first she’s brazen and demanding—joking about “the business of time” and flashing $50 to bribe the band—but as they begin to play she grows morose and drunkenly mumbles along to the song. It’s hard to watch Bette Davis admit defeat. Directed by Edmund Goulding (Grand Hotel), who also wrote the music for “Oh, Give Me Time for Tenderness.” With a young Humphrey Bogart holding his own against Davis as Judith’s horse trainer and an even younger Ronald Reagan, towering and sleazy as a boozy hanger-on.