Review: ‘Of Human Bondage’

Basically, it's an obvious and familiar theme [from the novel by W. Somerset Maugham]. The unrequited love of the art-medical student, inhibited and club-footed to the degree that he stumbles physically, mentally and spiritually, commands respect and sympathy. But as the footage unreels, the feeling grows that he's pretty much of a clunk to go the hard way he does for the strumpet who treats him so shabbily.

Basically, it’s an obvious and familiar theme [from the novel by W. Somerset Maugham]. The unrequited love of the art-medical student, inhibited and club-footed to the degree that he stumbles physically, mentally and spiritually, commands respect and sympathy. But as the footage unreels, the feeling grows that he’s pretty much of a clunk to go the hard way he does for the strumpet who treats him so shabbily.

Leslie Howard tries hard to mellow his assignment. But somehow he misses at times because the script is too much against him. Perhaps Bette Davis is to blame. She plays her free ‘n’ easy vamp too well, so that it negates any audience sympathy for the gentle Howard.

Reginald Denny and Alan Hale get over a couple of lusty innings as males on the hunt who know how to handle gals of her type. Reginald Owen, too, milks his assignment.

Locales are Paris and London, chiefly London, with Davis in Cockney dialect throughout.

Of Human Bondage

Production

Radio. Director John Cromwell; Producer Pandro S. Berman; Screenplay Lester Cohen; Camera Henry W. Gerrard; Editor William Morgan; Music Max Steiner; Art Director Van Nest Polglase, Carroll Clark

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1934. Running time: 83 MIN.

With

Leslie Howard Bette Davis Frances Dee Kay Johnson Reginald Denny Alan Hale
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