Classic Film Guide

Dangerous (1935) - full review!

Directed by Alfred Green, and written by Laird Doyle, this slightly above average drama features Bette Davis's first Academy Award winning Best Actress performance, on her second consecutive Oscar nomination.

Franchot Tone plays Don Bellows, an architect that has everything going for him. He has a beautiful fiancé Gail (Margaret Lindsay) and he's about to begin a landmark project that will give his name a prominent permanence in New York City. However, while out one evening with Gail and some friends (including polo player Dick Foran), he thinks he sees an actress whose performances had once influenced the direction of his life. Instead of going home with them, he excuses himself in order to see if the drunk woman in the corner of a bar is the aforementioned actress. It was, and so he meets Joyce Heath (Bette Davis), who is used to this sort of embarrassment by now and wants only for him to buy her more drinks. He does, but he also then takes her to his home in the country where he hopes that she will sober up. He enlists the aide of his live-in maid Mrs. Williams (Alison Skipworth), who is naturally concerned but helps her nonetheless. He allows her to stay with Mrs. Williams at his home while he returns to the city.

Joyce does in fact become sober and when Don returns to his country home to visit her again the following weekend, he notices that she has taken up residence. Her story is that she believes she'd become a magnet for bad luck; her previous relationships and acting successes were marred by accidents such that no one would hire her anymore. Nevertheless, Don can't help but be attracted to her. When the weather makes his return to the city impossible, he returns home and she seduces him. The two begin an affair that will end his engagement to Gail who, is more understanding that any normal woman could be expected to be, and seems to believe he'll return to her. However, Don is so taken with Joyce that decides to produce a play that only an actress of her talent can manage. He finds a producer George Sheffield (Pierre Watkin) who is willing to work with him, and Joyce, despite his misgivings, because Don is willing to invest his project's money. The rehearsals go well and everyone involved is convinced it will be a big success.

On the eve of opening night, Don proposes to Joyce whose reaction is inexplicably, and vehemently, no! We then find out that Joyce is already married, to Gordon (John Eldredge), whom she goes to see seeking a divorce. Gordon was evidently one of those ruined by Joyce, but he clings to the only thing he can still control - the fact that he's still married to her. Realizing that Gordon won't give her the divorce she wants, Joyce pretends to want a reconciliation so that he'll go with her. She then takes him for a wild ride in Don's automobile, which she purposely drives into a tree, hoping to kill him, or even herself given her fate.

Without giving away the results of the car accident, or the rest of the film's plot, suffice it to say that Don has learned to believe that Joyce is/was cursed, given the fact that life's work (e.g. money) was spent for a show that can't possibly open the next day. However, there may yet be redemption in this film's unexpected ending.

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