Best Movies by Farr
Of Human Bondage Poster
Released Runtime Category
1934 83 Romance, Drama
Director Language
John Cromwell English
Actors
Bette Davis, Leslie Howard, Frances Dee, Reginald Denny, Kay Johnson, Alan Hale

Of Human Bondage

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What's it About

Insecure medical student Philip Carey (Howard) falls in love with Mildred (Davis), a haughty Cockney waitress. She strings him along and then ditches him for a wealthier suitor (Hale). Pregnant and abandoned, she comes back to Philip but then runs off with one of his colleagues. Sacrificing his own chance at a relationship with the practical Norah (Johnson), Philip saves Mildred from the streets once more, knowing full well that she will never love him. Can he escape from her bonds and accept love with the tender Sally (Dee)?

Why we love it

Cromwell’s adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham’s celebrated novel was the vehicle that shot Davis to the big time after years of toiling in the studio system. Her performance is magnetic, overpowering the more subtle Howard with Mildred’s vulgar sexuality and vicious manipulations. Yet the veteran British actor elicits great sympathy for his portrayal of the club-footed sap in thrall to the heartless harpy. With its pre-Code treatment of loose morals, unwed pregnancy and prostitution, this tragic melodrama is hardly the stuff of traditional Hollywood romances. It has a brutal honesty, summed up in Mildred’s excoriating third act speech to Philip. No surprise that Davis, in a write-in vote, received the first of her eleven Best Actress Oscar nominations.

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BEST MOVIES BY FARR is your personal guide to great movies to rent, stream, or buy; to watch at home or on-the-go. Led by film advocate John Farr, the Best Movies by Farr team works as a "quality filter" for the discerning moviegoer. Every day, we bring you the best of the best, the fantastic familiar films and hidden gems, to answer that age-old question: "What should we watch tonight?"