Popular and beautiful Fanny Trellis is forced into a loveless marriage with an older man, Jewish banker Job Skeffington, in order to save her beloved brother Trippy from an embezzlement charge, and predictable complications result.
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 <email@example.com>
Nervous about audience reaction to her performance, Bette Davis opted not to attend a preview of the film in Santa Barbara, CA, although her mother Ruth and husband Harmon Nelson went. Ruth later related, "For one hour and a half of horrible realism, we sat riveted without speaking a word, with only a fleeting glance now and then at each other. We left the theater in absolute silence. Neither of us knew what to think, for we felt the picture would make or break her, but would the public like the unpleasant story as well as the people at the preview seemed to?" Upon arriving home, her husband told Davis he thought her performance, while "painfully sincere," might harm her career. See more »
While Bette Davis says "Funny looking little thing, isn't it? I can't believe it's mine." At 43:18 we see the 'Newborn' baby on the bed. But the baby is already at least 3 months old. See more »
Anything you want?
Yes, if you don't mind I'd like to talk to you. Um... filthy weather, isn't it?
Makes no difference to me. I have to be here all day.
Don't talk like that. I only wanted to say something pleasant.
Well, say it.
You know you have a lovely smile. You should try using it more often.
Oh, don't go spoofing me. A girl who works hard all day like I do. I don't have much reason to smile.
Perhaps I could find a reason. Would you let me try?
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If Jack Warner had had his way, Bette Davis would have wound up playing all kinds of molls in various Warner Brothers gangster films. Of Human Bondage was a significant milestone in her career because she proved to everyone, including herself, that she was capable of so much more.
Like Frank Sinatra with Angelo in From Here to Eternity, Davis knew she was born to play the slatternly amoral Mildred from W. Somerset Maugham's classic novel. Though she rarely used false accents in her movie career after this, she got the Cockney speech pattern down perfect. Davis will keep you riveted to your seat with her performance her. And what a scandal it was that she wasn't nominated. I suspect some intrigue was at work there, possibly the brothers Warner who didn't want her to get a swelled head. Also she'd gotten this break through role at another studio so they weren't going to make a dime on it.
Two years later Leslie Howard and Bette Davis would team up again in The Petrified Forest. But what a contrast between the dreamy naive Gabby and Mildred. The same with the male leads. In The Petrified Forest, Leslie Howard is the world weary blasé Alan Squire. In Of Human Bondage, Howard's Philip Carey is a shy man with a deep inferiority complex because of his club foot. He clings to Mildred because even though she's degraded him, he feels he'll never find another attachment again.
For both the leads Of Human Bondage represented a considerable stretching of considerable talents. The two later screen versions are markedly inferior to this one.
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