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Film / Dangerous

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Bette Davis: awesome even when reading a book.

Dangerous is a 1935 drama film directed by Alfred E. Green, starring Bette Davis and Franchot Tone.

Don Bellows (Tone) is an architect, like every other male lead is. While out and about one evening he comes across one Joyce Heath (Davis) drinking heavily in a bar. Don recognizes her; it turns out that Joyce was once a famous actress before her career hit the skids. When her male co-star in a play died on opening night, Joyce got a reputation as a jinx, an idea which fed on itself in the superstitious theater world, leaving Joyce to suffer through a series of failed productions and failed relationships before ending up a bitter alcoholic.

Joyce passes out in the bar, leading Don to take her to his house lest she be thrown in the drunk tank. Don's intentions are noble, but Joyce the temptress eventually seduces him. A remorseful Joyce, who believes that she actually is a jinx, urges Don to leave her. Instead Don breaks up with his sweet, affectionate fiancee Gail (Margaret Lindsay), and has a passionate affair with Joyce—and soon his life starts going down the drain as well.


Won Davis the first of her two Academy Awards for Best Actress. Many people, including Davis herself, believed it was a make-up award for the year before, when she wasn't even nominated for her star turn in Of Human Bondage.


  • The Atoner: Joyce at the end, seeking to "pay some debts". She gets the production of the play re-started so Don will get his money back, and she resolves to support her crippled husband.
  • Hangover Sensitivity: Joyce is in a very bad state when she wakes up at Don's house. This does not stop her from drinking more.
  • I'll Tell You When I've Had Enough!: Played with. An already very drunk Joyce asks if she can have Don's drink at the bar. Don says "Haven't you had enough?" Joyce agrees, saying "Quite enough." Then she grabs Don's drink and downs it.
  • The Jinx: Joyce believes that she is this, telling Don about the men she's accidentally ruined and the stage shows she's been in that failed. In the back story she ruined her husband, and when she meets him again in the movie, she causes a car wreck that cripples him. And Don is ruined when he backs Joyce in a play only to see it fail. Subverted, however, when Don tells Joyce that it's her selfishness and not any jinx that's the problem.
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  • Lady Drunk: Don first meets a bedraggled Joyce getting hammered in a bar. And her drinking problem is serious enough that she smashes open Don's liquor cabinet the next morning, at breakfast, so she can drink again.
  • Love Martyr: Joyce's husband, Gordon Heath, who still loves her no matter what. Somehow—possibly through getting him to back a failed show—she caused him to lose the company he owned. Her insults and mockery roll off him. When she's deliberately driving a car into a tree, passenger Don says go ahead, he's willing to die if he can't have her. Pays off in the end, sort of, when Joyce finally goes back to Don. After she crippled him.
  • Match Cut: From Don and Joyce embracing at the theater to Don and Joyce embracing at Don's apartment.
  • Never My Fault: When Joyce tries to blame the disastrous car wreck on her being a jinx, Don calls her out, pointing out that all her disasters have been due to her own selfishness and bad choices, not a jinx, and others have paid. (And Don doesn't even know that Joyce caused the wreck on purpose.)
  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: Joyce walking away from the camera and into the hospital to meet her husband.
  • Romantic Rain: When things start turning romantic between Joyce and Don, he seeks to escape the moment by walking out of the house, into the pouring rain. Joyce chases him down and kisses him, and offscreen sex follows.
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: After some prodding by Don, Joyce recites the scene in Romeo and Juliet where Juliet takes the sleeping potion. Until she passes out drunk, that is.
  • Smoky Gentlemen's Club: A gentleman runs across a run-down Joyce outside his club. This sets up a lot of exposition when the gentleman meets Don and his other friends inside the club and tells the Joyce Heath story.
  • Tempting Fate: "Momus himself couldn't jinx a talent like that," says the director, at the last triumphant rehearsal of Joyce's play. Joyce promptly gets in a car wreck.
  • Title Drop: Don's housekeeper correctly diagnoses Joyce as a "dangerous" woman, an agent of chaos.
  • Worst News Judgment Ever: Naturally, Joyce's car wreck is a large-type newspaper headline.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Don cheats on Gail with Joyce.

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