Dangerous (1935)

Don Bellows (Franchot Tone) is a big-time architect in New York City. He’ll soon marry Gail Armitage (Margaret Lindsay), a woman of high social class and plenty of beauty. It seems like an ideal life — Don and Gail together, with Don having a great career and the couple sharing an exciting life in the never-sleeping metropolis.

But one night, Don hears from an associate that Joyce Heath (Bette Davis), the formerly-brilliant starring actress of the Broadway stage, has become dowdy and downtrodden. A series of personal tragedies has left her career and her life in shambles. She’s turned to alcohol to cope.

Don soon meets Joyce himself, and he feels the need to help her. After all, it was her performance as Juliet that inspired him to begin his career as an architect. He feels he owes his success to her.

Joyce accepts his help after some convincing, but is reluctant to get close to him, sure that she’s jinxed and will ruin his life. Still, Don remains determined to help her get her life and career back on track.

(Image via Hollywood Revue)

(Image via Hollywood Revue)

Alfred E. Green directs 1935’s Dangerous. The film was written by Laird Doyle, credited for both story and screenplay.

Bette Davis won an Oscar for her performance in this film, a very well-deserved accolade. As the once-promising, alcoholic actress struggling to get back on her feet, Davis easily captures the audience in every scene in which she appears. It’s a pretty typical Bette performance to those of us familiar with her filmography, which is quite remarkable since she was only a few years into her career when Dangerous was made. Already establishing her distinct performance style and star power, only having made her Hollywood debut in 1931!

In Joyce, Davis creates a strong-willed, pessimistic woman. She’s been through a lot and she has let her past traumas control her life, but she does have her happier moments, and makes a positive transformation by the end of the film.

Though it’s nice to see Davis’ character go from down-on-her-luck alcoholic to something much more positive by the end of the film, the script of Dangerous isn’t exactly a great one. Davis’ performance elevates the material. Franchot Tone and Margaret Lindsay also do well in their roles.

(Image via Doctor Macro)

(Image via Doctor Macro)

But despite the best efforts of the cast, the ending still comes across as quite syrupy, perhaps because it comes only ten minutes or so after Davis’ most “dangerous” moment. There are also a few other melodramatic turns to the plot, which I won’t describe so as not to spoil the film for those who haven’t seen it.

Despite a somewhat weak script, I enjoyed Dangerous for Bette Davis’ fantastic performance. I would recommend it for fans of the actress. The score: 3/5

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