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   OF HUMAN BONDAGE (1934) 

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CAST
Leslie Howard
Bette Davis
Frances Dee
Kay Johnson
Reginald Denny
Alan Hale
Reginald Sheffield
Reginald Owen
Desmond Roberts

DIRECTED BY
John Cromwell

PURCHASE


DVD




Time: 83 mins.
Rating: Not Rated
Genre: Romance/Drama

Academy Award nomination for Best Actress (Davis).


SYNOPSIS: Phillip is well liked and facing a promising future as a physician when he grows obsessed with a mercurial, promiscuous waitress. She stands him up, she lets him down, she sleeps around--basically doing anything she can think of to humiliate him. The good doctor's prospects soon sink... and then sink again and again every time she reappears, usually in dire circumstances. His love for her almost dooms them both.

BOTTOM LINE: The main reason I tuned in to watch this classic melodrama was to see Bette Davis's first major screen performance. Her role as Mildred – an illiterate, unfeeling waitress who comes to a very bad end – would earn her her first Oscar nomination. Though she plays the pivotal role, it's really Leslie Howard who has the lead here. He plays a young medical student with a club foot, who falls desperately in love with Mildred. She finds him boring yet suffers his attentions when her other male friends are busy elsewhere. Ever the gentleman, he finds himself on the receiving end of her lies time and time again, but never kicks her out of his life. As she begins her inevitable crawl into the gutter, she ruins his life and breaks his heart, yet he just can't seem to get her out of his system. In the end, she gets her comeuppance...and he is finally free to live his life. The film seems a bit dreary whenever Davis isn't onscreen, but Howard does a decent job of keeping your attention even though it's a thankless role. It's hard to believe a man would be so forgiving, even one with a physical disability. Certainly, some nicer, cleaner woman could overlook a clubfoot to be with a handsome doctor? His inability to move on is hard to watch, which I guess is the point. It's not a complex story, but the relationship between Davis and Howard portrays honest emotions with devastating results. Davis fans won't be disappointed. A raucous precursor to all the devious and demented women she had yet to bring to life onscreen.




"Women are never at ease with themselves when they have ideas."

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