Shining Victory (1941): Rapper’s Directing Debut, Starring James Stephenson and Geraldine Fitzgerald

Irving Rapper, who began his career as dialogue coach, made his directing debut in 1941 with Shining Victory, based on the play, Jupiter Laughs, by A. J. Cronin.

A brilliant research psychiatrist, Dr. Paul Venner (James Stephenson), is driven out of Budapest by another researcher who took false credit for Venner’s work.

In London, Dr. Venner is offered a job in a Scottish sanitarium where he research dementia praecox, a disease from which his father had suffered.

Mary Murray (Geraldine Fitzgerald), a young pretty doctor, becomes his laboratory assistant. They fall in love, though she has plans to go to China for medical missionary work. Paul convinces her to remain with him, and the two become betrothed.

When a fire breaks out in the lab, Mary dies while trying to salvage Paul’s records. The deeply distressed doctor turns down posts at prestigious universities to realize Mary’s dream of helping the sick in China.

The working title of the film was Winged Victory, due to Moss Hart’s similarly titled play, which was filmed in 1944.

Bette Davis makes a cameo appearance as a nurse in the film, and would star the following year in Rapper’s melodrama, Now, Voyager.  

James Stephenson as Dr. Paul Venner
Geraldine Fitzgerald as Dr. Mary Murray
Donald Crisp as Dr. Drewett
Barbara O’Neil as Miss Leeming