7.2/10
6,130
104 user 39 critic

Of Human Bondage (1934)

Not Rated | | Drama, Romance | 20 July 1934 (USA)
A young man finds himself attracted to a cold and unfeeling waitress who may ultimately destroy them both.

Director:

John Cromwell

Writers:

Lester Cohen (screen play), W. Somerset Maugham (from the novel by)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Leslie Howard ... Philip
Bette Davis ... Mildred
Frances Dee ... Sally
Kay Johnson ... Norah
Reginald Denny ... Griffiths
Alan Hale ... Miller
Reginald Sheffield ... Dunsford
Reginald Owen ... Athelny
Desmond Roberts ... Dr. Jacobs
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 See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Bette Davis wanted the role of Mildred Rodgers because she thought it would be her breakout role after years of starring in films that were getting her nowhere. She begged Warner Brothers studio chief Jack L. Warner to let her out of her contract so she could make the film. He relented because he was sure she would fail; but, when her performance sparked talk of an Oscar, Warner began a spite campaign by encouraging academy members not to vote for her. At the time, the voting campaigns and the tabulation of the results were handled by the heads of the academy (of which Warner had a membership) and it worked in his favor when Davis was left out of the Best Actress competition. Supporters of Davis, shocked by her omission, petitioned the academy for a write-in vote. She was added to the nominees as a write-in but she lost to Claudette Colbert for her performance in It Happened One Night (1934). As a result of this incident, write-in votes were henceforth disallowed. Also, as a result of Warner's coup, the academy decided to change its voting practices and hand over the counting of the results to the independent accounting firm of PriceWaterhouse, who still does the official counting to this day. See more »

Goofs

When Dr. Jacobs asks Philip to show his club foot, the glasses he's wearing suddenly disappear and then reappear between shots. See more »

Quotes

Mildred Rogers: You cad, you dirty swine! I never cared for you, not once! I was always makin' a fool of ya! Ya bored me stiff; I hated ya! It made me SICK when I had to let ya kiss me. I only did it because ya begged me, ya hounded me and drove me crazy! And after ya kissed me, I always used to wipe my mouth! WIPE MY MOUTH!
See more »

Connections

Version of Of Human Bondage (1946) 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 »

User Reviews

Still gives me goosebumps!
26 November 2004 | by ClassicAndCampFilmReviewsSee all my reviews

Bette Davis became a star with her role in this first and best film adaptation of the Somerset Maugham novel of the same name (well worth a read). This was her first nomination for an Academy Award, for her portrayal of Mildred Rogers; a tawdry, sluttish, cockney waitress who bewitches hapless Philip Carey (Leslie Howard, best known for his role as Ashley Wilkes in "Gone With the Wind"). She lost the award, receiving it for her role the following year for "Dangerous", which is generally viewed as a consolation prize.

The supporting cast includes Reginald Denny, Alan Hale Sr. (father of Alan Hale Jr., who was the skipper on the TV series "Gilligan's Isle"), and a breathtakingly beautiful Frances Dee.

The film starts out with Philip, a failed art student with a clubfoot of which he is highly sensitive, turning to the study of medicine after facing the fact that he has no artistic talent. Shortly thereafter he meets and quickly becomes obsessed with Mildred, despite her sneering and obvious disdain for him because of his deformity. Her standard response to his affectionate overtures is a chilly "I don't mind." In his dreams Mildred is sweet and kind to him; during real time she uses him, well aware of his affection for her, leaving him for other men and returning when she is down on her luck, ruining his chance for having a career or a normal life with another woman; he seems to continually finds himself inexorably drawn to her, even after his love for her has waned, until the day she finally pushes him too far.

At that point, the camera fully turns to Mildred as her facial expression shifts from supplication to shock to full-on bitch in a matter of seconds, and she reacts to Philip's statement with a barrage of blood-curdling insults. Bette Davis as Mildred never fails to raise the hair on the back of my neck and arms with her performance in this particular scene.

This is the role that made Davis a star. It's also one of my all-time favorite Davis films, along with such others as "The Little Foxes", "The Letter", and "All About Eve".


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

20 July 1934 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Of Human Bondage See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$403,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (R C A Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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