Actress Joyce Heath (Bette Davis) had once been hailed as the most promising new actress on Broadway, the best thing since Jeanne Eagels. But then her career takes a turn for the worse, leaving her a broke, alcoholic mess. Virtually the only person who hasn’t lost faith in her is architect Don Bellows (Franchot Tone). Seeing Joyce in a performance of Romeo and Juliet inspired Don to follow his dream of becoming an architect, so when Don finds Joyce getting drunk one night, he feels compelled to help her.
Don takes Joyce out to his country home to help her get her life back on track. Even though Don is already engaged to Gail Armitage (Margaret Lindsay), Don starts to fall in love with Joyce. However, Joyce believes she’s cursed to bring bad luck to anyone who gets too close to her. Don’s willing to take his chances, though, and uses all his money to finance a play that would be absolutely perfect for Joyce to play the lead in.
Rehearsals for the play go very well and Joyce is on top of her game — she’s professional and her performance is a real knock-out. The show is practically guaranteed to be a smash hit. But just before the show is to open, Don proposes to Joyce and Joyce turns him down. What Don doesn’t realize is that Joyce is already married to a man named Gordon Heath (John Eldredge). Joyce would like to marry Don, but Gordon refuses to divorce her. After asking him for a divorce, Joyce takes him for a drive and threatens to crash the car if he doesn’t divorce her. Gordon still refuses so Joyce drives into a tree, leaving Gordon with serious injuries.
Joyce’s injuries were less serious than Gordon’s, but they’re enough to stop the show from opening as planned, leaving Don broke. When Don finds out about Gordon, he tells her the only curse she has is being a very selfish woman. Joyce realizes that Don is right and starts focusing on making things right with her life. She lets Don go to reconcile with Gail while she gets the play back up and running. The play does indeed become a smash hit and Joyce begins to reconcile her own marriage to Gordon.
Dangerous brought Bette Davis her first Academy Award for Best Actress, and it was well deserved. Certainly one of her first great film performances, but as her career progressed, she would top her work in Dangerous time and time again. On the whole, Dangerous is a very good, engaging, quick-moving drama. I loved everything about it. It’s one of those wonderful 1930s movies that manages to fit a lot a lot of action into a short amount of time (in this case, about 80 minutes), but never feels rushed. Franchot Tone made a great co-star for Bette and gives a fine performance as well. I’d definitely recommend Dangerous to any Bette Davis fan or anyone who enjoys 1930s movies in general.