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Medical student Philip fall in love with Mildred, a waitress. Although she is a flirt, they have a love affair. But when Philip is told about her constant infidelity, they break up. Mildred quits her job and becomes a prostitute. But Philip is still in love with her. Written by
I think that this film production of the book is the best that was made. Kim Novak is superb as Mildred Rogers, as is Laurence Harvey as Philip Carey in this telling of the story by Somerset Maugham. I don't think that Kim Novak really got the credit she deserved as an actress in general in Hollywood. The opportunity to play this role, really showed us how good she was. This version was produced by MGM British Studios and Seven Arts Productions (also British). It was first released in West Germany at the Berlin International Film Festival.
Kim Novak was always beautiful, but that was not played up here, as the book tells us that Mildred was not. It was something inside her that caught Philip Carey's tragic need. I found Laurence Harvey to be painfully brilliant in this role. His portrayal lets us see the only thing that he really knows as love, but what is, in many ways, an addiction to this woman (therefore the "bondage"). For whatever reason that Mildred fills his need, it is as if he can do nothing to stop the craving. Therefore, when she does not feel the same, he is not just hurt, but angered. He thinks that he wants to be sweet and kind, and do things for her. But he simply must have her absolute devotion in return. She can not give that to this man. He is not who she craves.
Up until a few months ago, I had thought that there were only two film versions of this book. The other being the more well known one starring Bette Davis and Leslie Howard done in 1934. I saw a 1946 version with some alterations to the story to suit the actor Paul Henreid, who played the male lead. Eleanor Parker played Mildred. It is also a good film, and quite true to the book. Though this is not surprising, as Somerset Maugham was the primary writer of all three screen plays of the various film versions of his book.
Though the '34 version is good, it never really got me to feel. It was much more like sitting back and just watching. The acting cannot really be faulted, but it never really moved me in any way.
That is what I find more impressive about this version made in 1964. It moved me to tears. The oppositional qualities of the primary characters are fully played out here. The desperation of Philip Carey. The indifference of Mildred Rogers. The tragedy in this story is very much a theme of other stories of Maugham's. There is a torment in the soul, and thus there is a need to dispense with the torment. Ultimately, there is a tragedy in the development of insensitivity in these people, since it becomes their only method of coping with the pain of life.
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