Monday, November 9, 2015

Dangerous (1935)

Dangerous (1935) is noteworthy to historians because it is the film that won Bette Davis her first Oscar (she would win again for the 1938 film Jezebel). It is one of my favorite films of the 30s and I enjoy watching it often. It has a lot going for it: stellar performances from Bette and Franchot (both incredibly lovely to look at, as well), a passionate romance, tons of classic Bette Davis drama and sacrifice, and a strong supporting cast.

Joyce Heath (Bette Davis) is a has-been actress. Once a talented young stage actress on the rise, Joyce has quickly descended into alcoholism, debt, and melancholy. Don Bellows (Franchot Tone) is an intelligent young architect who is greatly respected by New York society. Although he is engaged to wealthy and kind socialite Gail Armitage (Margaret Lindsay, who also costarred with Franchot in 1934's Gentlemen are Born), Don fondly recalls Joyce's stage career and how much he was moved by her performances. When he discovers Joyce's current state, Don sets out to rehabilitate her. In the process, they fall in love.

The scenes between Joyce and Don contain fluctuating moments of cute silliness, anger and resentment, passionate attraction, and deep bonding. It's really easy to get wrapped up in their romance. You're completely rooting for them, but all the time, there's a little voice telling you that it's not going to end pretty.

Don is willing to sacrifice everything for Joyce. His belief in her love and her talent is so strong that he gives up his fiancĂ©e and puts his wealth on the line to support Joyce in a new play. Although Joyce continuously warns Don that she is a jinx, Don believes that his love and the success of her new play will change everything. Don doesn't realize that Joyce has a secret and that the way she handles that secret may change everything.

Dangerous is a beautiful film, one that makes me both laugh and cry. Because of Franchot and Bette's performances and its powerful ending (which I won't spoil for you here), it's a film whose story lingers with me long after the end credits roll. Dangerous is available on DVD at Amazon and WBShop.

Bette Davis admitted that during filming, she had an intense crush on Franchot. At the time, he was deeply in love with Joan Crawford. Bette describes her attraction to Franchot and jealousy of Joan in this post.

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