Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Millinery Movie Moments: Dark Victory

Today's movie is Dark Victory (1939). It centres around Judith Traherne (Bette Davis), her battle with a brain tumour, and her romance with her doctor (George Brent).

A headstrong and stubborn woman, Judith begins the movie well aware that she is struggling with some sort of illness, but refusing to tell her doctor, see a specialist, or change her lifestyle of late nights, partying and cigarettes (for which those who don't know better are blaming her headaches and dizzy spells).

This isn't a movie of jaw-dropping hats. There are only a small number to look at, and most are practical and simple. Like The Bishop's Wife, however, the hats are significant.

Bette Davis wears two styles of hat in this movie: dark tilt hats and lighter pixie hats.

When she first visits Dr Steele, she is wearing a simple but very elegant dark felt tilt hat.

I love the way the very plain hat is set off by the large frothy bow at the back.

After her operation, Judith has a cute little cap made specially to match her new outfit and cover the patch of cut hair.

Before the operation she is upset about having to lose some hair. Afterwards, she just rejoices in the hats that cover it, and in her returned health. And in her fondness for Dr Steele.

When her dark mood descends again, she's back in a tilt hat, this time in opulent fur.

I don't think I've seen anyone look this stylish in a bowler hat.

The straightforward correlation between happiness and hats doesn't quite continue though, because she's back in a white sequined pixie hat while her wild mood continues. She is still wearing it when she returns to the arms of Dr Steele, so perhaps we can say that it still works!

There are some cute hats on the supporting cast and extras too, but they feature quite briefly. I'll leave them to you to enjoy if you ever catch this movie.

A final thought from Humphrey Bogart...

"Take your hat off when I'm talking to a lady."


  1. Those are some great simple 1930s hats
    retro rover

    1. Simplicity can be perfect sometimes, for sure!

  2. Posts like this remind me that there are just so many movies out there that I need to see. I didn't know that they did pixie hats like this so early. For some reason I thought they were more of a 50s/60s thing. That style has been on my list of things to buy for a while now, and Bette, of course, is killing it. The big chiffon bow on the first hat is also really lovely.
    Some day I just want to own all the hats.
    Zella Maybe

    1. I'll admit that pixie hats are a style I know little about at the moment, but I have seen some vintage hat blocks in this shape. She certainly makes them look awesome.

      Yes. I to want to own all the hats. And make all the hats. *sigh*

  3. I love the felt tilt hat, so cute and elegant at the same time! :)


  4. First up...how have I not seen this movie? Must fix that..asap! Secondly, those are some pretty fantastic hats and I have to give her credit for bringing such style when dealing with so much. This is not the same, but I have been sick with a terrible hardcore cold for weeks now and I have to say my usually proud vintage looks have gone out the window for comfort as I'm simply miserable and just don't have the energy to look nice. I wish I could find it to look just as fantastic as Bettie Davis in this movie.

    Thanks for sharing such a great post!

    Liz :)

    1. I hadn't heard of it before I stumbled on it in the tv guide, but I'm glad I found it. I feel the same way when I am even a little bit sick! Maybe we just need something stylish that feels as good as a giant comfy sweater!

  5. This post gives me an idea...I don't usually find myself swooning over late 50s/60s pillbox hats, but when a wide band/strap is added to the back like this and they take on a 30s/40s look, I suddenly adore them, so why not do so to 60s pillboxes that could fit the earlier 20th century part? Definitely something to keep in mind the next time I quickly pass by an inexpensive 60s pillbox.

    ♥ Jessica

    1. That is an amazing idea! I hope you give it a try. You are always very good and finding a way to make vintage finds work for you!

  6. I really like the sequinned pixie and the fur tilt hat. Very glamorous indeed!

    1. Super glamorous! I always fall for fur tilt hats like this, but the sequined pixie is one I haven't seen anything quite like before!


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