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Abandoning artistic ambitions, sensitive and club-footed Philip Carey enrolls in medical school and falls in love with a waitress Mildred Rogers. She rejects him, runs off with a salesman and returns unmarried and pregnant. Philip gets her an apartment and they become engaged. Mildred runs off with another medical student. Philip takes her back again when she returns with her baby. She wrecks his apartment and burns the securities he needs to pay tuition. He gets a job as a salesman, has surgery on his foot, receives an inheritance, and returns to school where he learns Mildred is dying. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Unleashing the Soul of Great Actor by Withholding an Oscar
Every motion picture Bette Davis stars in is worth experiencing. Before Davis co-stars with Leslie Howard in "Of Human Bondage," she'd been in over a score of movies. Legend has it that Davis was 'robbed' of a 1935 Oscar for her performance as a cockney-speaking waitress, unwed mother & manipulative boyfriend-user, Mildred Rogers. The story goes that the AFI consoled Davis by awarding her 1st Oscar for playing Joyce Heath in "Dangerous." I imagine Davis' fans of "Of Human Bondage" who agree with the Oscar-robbing legend are going to have at my critique's contrast of the 1934 film for which the AFI didn't award her performance & the 1936 film "Dangerous," performance for which she received her 1st Oscar in 1937.
I've tried to view all of Bette Davis' motion pictures, TV interviews, videos, advertisements for WWII & TV performances in popular series. In hindsight, it is easy to recognize why this film, "Of Human Bondage," gave Davis the opportunity to be nominated for her performance. She was only 25yo when the film was completed & just about to reach Hollywood's red carpet. The public began to notice Bette Davis as a star because of her performance in "Of Human Bondage." That is what makes it her legendary performance. But, RKO saw her greatness in "The Man Who Played God," & borrowed her from Warners to play Rogers.
I'm going to go with the AFI, in hindsight, some 41 years after their astute decision to award Davis her 1st Best Actress Oscar for "Dangerous," 2 years later. By doing so, the AFI may have been instrumental in bringing out the very best in one of Hollywood's most talented 20th century actors. Because, from "Of Human Bondage," onward, Davis knew for certain that she had to reach deep inside of herself to find the performances that earned her the golden statue. Doubtless, she deserved more than 2 Oscars; perhaps as many as 6.
"Dangerous" provides an exemplary contrast in Davis' depth of acting characterization. For, it's in "Dangerous" (1936) that she becomes the greatest actor of the 20th century. Davis is so good as Joyce Heath, she's dead-center on the red carpet. Whereas in "Of Human Bondage," Davis is right off the edge, still on the sidewalk & ready to take off on the rest of her 60 year acting career.
Perhaps by not awarding her that legendary Oscar in 1935, instead of a star being born, an actor was given incentive to reach beyond stardom into her soul for the gifted actor's greatest work.
It is well known that her contemporary peer adversary was Joan Crawford; a star whose performances still don't measure up to Davis'. Even Anna Nicole Smith was a 'star'. Howard Stern is a radio host 'star', too. Lots of people on stage & the silver screen are stars. Few became great actors. The key difference between them is something that Bette Davis could sense: the difference between the desire to do great acting or to become star-struck.
Try comparing these two movies as I have, viewing one right after the other. Maybe you'll recognize what the AFI & I did. Davis was on the verge of becoming one of the greatest actors of the 20th century at 25yo & achieved her goal by the time she was 27. She spent her next 50 plus years setting the bar so high that it has not been reached . . . yet.
Had the AFI sent her the message that she'd arrived in "Of Human Bondage," Davis' life history as a great actor may have been led into star-struck-dom, instead.
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