Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, November 12, 2015


DANGEROUS (1935). Director: Alfred E. Green.

Don Bellows (Franchot Tone) is a successful architect engaged to Gail Armitage (Margaret Lindsay). One day Don spots the dissipated actress, Joyce Heath (Bette Davis), who has gone on a long bender after her once-promising career disintegrated. Joyce, and anyone who could hire her, are convinced she is a jinx. Admiring her talent and feeling that she once inspired him, Don takes it upon himself to bring Joyce back into the light -- and the limelight. But can Joyce overcome her own fears and insecurities, or will she sink back into the morass of doubt and depression? Dangerous is a good and entertaining picture, but one senses there's an even better movie lost in there somewhere. The sudden introduction of Joyce's husband, Gordon (John Eldredge), adds an almost weird plot turn to the movie, as well as an ending that may be strange to many (although I thought it worked). Davis [Dark Victory] won a Best Actress Oscar for Dangerous, although she's certainly given better performances elsewhere. Both she and Lindsay [Baby Face] ruin some dramatic scenes by rushing through their lines as if there's an explosive fire on the sound stage just out of camera range, and there's an unintentionally comical moment when a producer says of Joyce: "even in rehearsal it's the greatest performance I've ever seen." Unfortunately, Davis' on-stage emoting in this scene is laughably mediocre. There's some very good dialogue in the movie, but a little too much of "Mildred" from Davis' Of Human Bondage. Both Joyce and Gail are convinced  they will wind up with Don when neither lady has a good reason for thinking so. Franchot Tone [I Love Trouble] gives a fine performance; Eldredge is also good in a very under-written role; and Alison Skipworth is terrific as Bellows' housekeeper, Mrs. Williams. Dick Foran and Mary Treen have smaller roles and are swell.

Verdict: Snappy if suspect melodrama with some good lines and acting. ***.


Gary R. said...

I've read that Bette Davis always believed winning the Oscar for this was actually belated recognition of her work in "Of Human Bondage."

William said...

Yes, the general consensus has always been that she got the Oscar for "Dangerous" because she didn't get one for "Bondage." Admittedly, I think she's better in "Bondage," but it's been a while since I've seen it. I believe "Bondage" is the better picture, in any case.