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Of Human Bondage (1934)

Passed  -  Drama | Romance  -  20 July 1934 (USA)
7.3
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 3,674 users  
Reviews: 75 user | 34 critic

A young man finds himself attracted to a cold and unfeeling waitress who may ultimately destroy them both.

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(screen play), (from the novel by), 1 more credit »
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Title: Of Human Bondage (1934)

Of Human Bondage (1934) on IMDb 7.3/10

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A medical student with a club foot falls for a beautiful but ambitious waitress. She soon leaves him, but gets pregnant and comes back to him for help.

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Stars: Paul Henreid, Eleanor Parker, Alexis Smith
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Frances Dee ...
...
...
...
Reginald Sheffield ...
...
Desmond Roberts ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Charles Coleman ...
(scenes deleted)
Frank Mills ...
Chimneysweep (scenes deleted)
Pat Somerset ...
(scenes deleted)
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Storyline

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 <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Love That Lifted a Man to Paradise......and Hurled Him Back to Earth Again

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

20 July 1934 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Escravos do Desejo  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Bette Davis fully expected to be nominated for an Oscar for this, her breakthrough performance in films. When she was denied an official nomination, there was an attempt to make her a "write-in" candidate, a practice now barred by the Academy. See more »

Goofs

Athelny's mustache and beard are almost coming unstuck in the scene in which he is eating dinner. See more »

Quotes

Thorpe Athelny: I don't think women ougth to sit down at table with men.
Philip Carey: Oh! Don't you? Why not?
Thorpe Athelny: It ruins conversation. I'm sure it's very bad for them. It puts ideas in their heads. And women are never at ease with themselves when they have ideas.
Philip Carey: You sound like the old voice of England.
Thorpe Athelny: I am sir. And this is fine old Yorkshire pudding that gives me the strength to carry on.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Hill Street Blues: Of Human Garbage (1985) See more »

Soundtracks

Hesitation Blues
(1915) (uncredited)
Written by Billy Smythe, Scott Middleton and Art Gillham
Played when Mildred is tearing up the apartment
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The First Version (of three) is Still the Best

Coming shortly before the imposition of a morality code darkened the spirits of writers, directors and actors, the first film adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham's "Of Human Bondage" titillated countless moviegoers. It has no shock value today, just fine acting.

While the cast is excellent, this is Bette Davis's first great role and one of Leslie Howard's best performances. Howard is English wannabe Parisian artist Philip Carey who is gently and firmly told that he lacks any talent and that his dedication is no substitute for true genius. Taking the lesson to heart he returns to London and enrolls in a medical college (one, by the way, that seems to have no female students-at that time there would have been at least a few. Perhaps author/physician Maugham didn't care for distaff medicos).

Having tea one day Carey is entranced by a waitress, Mildred Rogers, Bette Davis in a role as a morally loose and basically wicked farrago. Her Cockney accent is as sharp as Eliza Doolittle's. His repeated attempts to date her are greeted with the less than enthusiastic reply, "I don't mind," a sure sign for any man with his head screwed on straight that he's plumbing the depths. Maugham's Mildred supplemented her waitress tips with a bit of old fashioned street-walking, something not clearly brought out here.

Carey's besotted prostration serves Rogers' avaricious need for support of the financial kind. He is desperately in love with her-she plays him as a Sunday church organist effortlessly plies her instrument. No sex here. Recognizing that he is getting nowhere, he begins a chaste relationship with Norah, a woman who adores him. Re-enter Mildred, replete with a baby, and in her usual need of being taken care of. Exit heartbroken Norah.

Another separation from Mildred and Carey begins a long-term friendship with Sally, abetted enthusiastically by her dad who seems to view eventual marriage as both a good thing for the two young people and a chance to be relieved of one of his nine offspring.

The movie reasonably but not entirely follows Maugham's excellent novel. Howard's Carey is naive and vulnerable and for much of the movie his sad eyes remind one of a doe facing a double-barreled shotgun. Mildred is unrestrainedly wicked, a user of the worst kind, her sole preoccupation with her own needs barely disguised when she tries to wheedle Carey with a thin patina of affectionate words (and offers-at one point she promises she'll do "anything [he] wants," a daring statement for the times and one I'm sure audiences fully understood.

Pre-Code it may be but Mildred's quick-march dissolution would have satisfied the League of Catholic Decency. The ending is conventional-sin loses, principled behavior triumphs.

Director John Cromwell wrought excellent performances from his two main stars, one well-established, the other established largely because of this film. The atmosphere is 1930s London and the trip back in time is worth taking.

Available on DVD.

9/10 (for Davis's and Howard's performances)


22 of 31 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Just opinion, but: I don't think Davis was that fantastic. cakeandtea
where to watch this movie? goddessyayser
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The Mildred / Bette Davis Character H_Kivel
Where's the baby? sharedg
about the DVD dimkv_gr
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