There was the Leslie Howard/Bette Davis 1934 version of this story and the 1946 entry starring Paul Henried and Eleanor Parker. This stab, with Laurence Harvey and Kim Novak, will not erase the memories. For those who come fresh to Of Human Bondage, this perceptive but highly introspective yarn by Somerset Maugham may seem a hard-to-take slab of period meller.

There was the Leslie Howard/Bette Davis 1934 version of this story and the 1946 entry starring Paul Henried and Eleanor Parker. This stab, with Laurence Harvey and Kim Novak, will not erase the memories. For those who come fresh to Of Human Bondage, this perceptive but highly introspective yarn by Somerset Maugham may seem a hard-to-take slab of period meller.

The pic had a ruffled nascency, due primarily to clashes of opinion among top brass. Henry Hathaway quit to let in Ken Hughes as director and it’s bruited that the star duo did not always see eye-to-ee on the chore in hand.

Story concerns a withdrawn, young medical student very conscious of his clubfoot who manages to become a doctor in London’s East End despite being totally besotted with the tawdry charms of a promiscuous waitress.

Allowing for the fact that Bryan Forbes’ screenplay is light on humor, Harvey nevertheless plays the role in such a stiff, martyred manner as to forfeit any sympathy or liking in the audience.

The role that made Davis doesn’t serve the same purpose for Novak. Yet she gamely tackles a wide range of emotions and seems to be far more aware of the demands of her role than is her co-star.

Collectors of cinema trivia will notice, with interest, the fleeting appearances by highly-paid scriptwriter Forbes as a student-extra without any lines, an inexplicable throwback to his earlier business of being an actor.

Of Human Bondage

UK

Production

Seven Arts/M-G-M. Director Ken Hughes, Henry Hathaway; Producer James Woolf; Screenplay Bryan Forbes; Camera Oswald Morris; Editor Russell Lloyd; Music Ron Goodwin; Art Director John Box

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1964. Running time: 98 MIN.

With

Kim Novak Laurence Harvey Robert Morley Siobhan McKenna Roger Livesey Jack Hedley

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