Of Human Bondage (1946 film)

Last updated

Of Human Bondage
Of Human Bondage (1946) poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Edmund Goulding
Produced by Henry Blanke
Screenplay by Catherine Turney
Based on Of Human Bondage
1915 novel
by W. Somerset Maugham
Starring Paul Henreid
Eleanor Parker
Alexis Smith
Edmund Gwenn
Janis Paige
Music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Cinematography J. Peverell Marley
Edited by Clarence Kolster
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date
  • July 5, 1946 (1946-07-05)
Running time
105 minutes
CountryUnited States

Of Human Bondage is a 1946 American drama film directed by Edmund Goulding. [1] The second screen adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham's 1915 novel, this Warner Bros. sanitized version was written by Catherine Turney. The central characters are Philip Carey, a clubfooted medical student, and Mildred Rogers, a low-class waitress with whom he becomes obsessed.

Contents

This is the second film version of Somerset Maugham's classic novel. The first was the 1934 film adaptation, starring Leslie Howard, [2] [3] and the third was the 1964 film adaptation, starring Laurence Harvey.

Plot

Philip, an impoverished, clubfooted, failed artist, is attending medical school in London, using a trust set up for him by a wealthy uncle for tuition. When he initially meets Mildred, she pays scant attention to him and he finds her common and crass, but his wounded pride spurs him to return to the restaurant where she works, hoping to spark her interest. He invites her to accompany him to the theatre and, because she has nothing else to do, Mildred accepts. Philip spends what little money he has on her before she breaks a date with him and an ugly argument ensues. When he discovers she apparently has run off to marry one of her regular customers, Miller, he initially is happy to be free from his emotional bondage to her.

Philip resumes a relationship with Norah Nesbitt, an author he had met in France, but it soon becomes obvious to her that her love for him is returned only as friendship. A pregnant Mildred, abandoned by the married Miller, returns seeking Philip's help, and he takes her away to Brighton, willing to marry her and adopt the child. He introduces her to his handsome and personable friend Harry Griffiths, who entrances Mildred and steals her away from him.

Philip strikes up a friendship with Athelny, one of his patients, and quickly becomes a regular at the man's family Sunday dinners. He attracts the attention of Athelny's oldest daughter Sally, but when he sees the homeless Mildred in the street, he offers her and her baby a place to stay. The relationship is platonic, and Mildred becomes increasingly enraged by Philip's apparent lack of interest in her. When he spurns her physical advances, she chases him out of his home and then burns his money and trashes his apartment. Philip catches pneumonia and is nursed back to health by Griffiths, who eventually takes him to the hospital charity ward where Mildred is dying. With the burden of his obsession lifted by her death, Philip returns to Sally.

Principal cast

Production

The first screen adaptation, filmed in 1934, made a star of Bette Davis who, frustrated with the unsubstantial roles she was being assigned at Warner Bros., had campaigned long and hard for Jack L. Warner to release her to RKO to make the movie.

In 1944, hoping he could do for another of his contract players what the first film had done for Davis, Warner decided to give the part of Mildred to Eleanor Parker, at the time better known for sweet young lady roles. Director Goulding, unconvinced she could handle it, tested Parker twice before he decided she could pull it off. To prepare, Parker studied the Cockney dialect with character actress Doris Lloyd, who had a small supporting role in the film. She perfected it so well British extras thought she was one of them.[ dubious ]

To explain the non-English accent of Philip Carey, portrayed by Paul Henreid, reference was made to his Austrian mother. Henreid was actually too old for the role and was fitted with a blond wig to disguise his age.

Henreid wrote in his memoirs that he felt the original script "was very well written" but that Goulding rewrote it throughout the shoot. He did not get along with Goulding, disagreeing as to how scenes should be played and taking too many long takes. [4]

The film was completed in 1944 but, following a disastrous preview screening, was shelved for two years. After edits that lost Parker some of her best moments (a death scene showing her ravaged by illness was considered too grim for audiences and cut) and severely reduced Alexis Smith's performance from a lead to a supporting character, it was released to mostly poor reviews and largely ignored by the moviegoing public. [5]

Henreid said after the preview that he suggested via his agent Lew Wasserman that producer Blanke re do the print and use pick ups to help re cut the film. He says that as a result "we ended up with a good film." [6]

Critical reception

In his review in The New York Times , Bosley Crowther described the remake as "a pale and pedestrian repeat ... so manufactured and dramatically inert that even those who did not see the original will likely find it disappointingly dull ... the role of Philip Carey is performed by Paul Henreid in a highly self-conscious and completely unconvincing style ... a girl named Eleanor Parker wiggles and whines so elaborately in the role of the licentious waitress that her manner seems almost in jest ... Edmund Goulding, the director, must share a part of the blame for the stuffed and mechanical performance of these two characters ... although the screen-writer, Catherine Turney, didn't help matters any here ... Of Human Bondage, in this version, is pretty much of a thorough-going bore." [7]

Variety said the film "has been given excellent period mounting to fit early London background, is well-played and directed in individual sequences, but lacks overall smoothness ... Edmund Goulding's direction gets good work out of the cast generally, and helps interest, although most of major characters carry little sympathy." [8]

TV Guide says, "Henreid and Parker do admirable jobs, though they certainly don't match Leslie Howard or Bette Davis ... Though by no means a great picture ... [it] is certainly an entertaining one." [9]

Related Research Articles

<i>Dark Victory</i> 1939 film

Dark Victory is a 1939 American melodrama film directed by Edmund Goulding, starring Bette Davis, and featuring George Brent, Humphrey Bogart, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Ronald Reagan, Henry Travers, and Cora Witherspoon. The screenplay by Casey Robinson was based on the 1934 play of the same title by George Brewer and Bertram Bloch, starring Tallulah Bankhead.

<i>The Ladykillers</i> 1955 crime comedy film directed by Alexander Mackendrick

The Ladykillers is a 1955 British black comedy crime film directed by Alexander Mackendrick for Ealing Studios. It stars Alec Guinness, Cecil Parker, Herbert Lom, Peter Sellers, Danny Green, Jack Warner, and Katie Johnson as the old lady, Mrs. Wilberforce.

<i>Watch on the Rhine</i> 1943 film by Hal Mohr, Herman Shumlin

Watch on the Rhine is a 1943 American drama film directed by Herman Shumlin and starring Bette Davis and Paul Lukas. The screenplay by Dashiell Hammett is based on the 1941 play Watch on the Rhine by Lillian Hellman. Watch on the Rhine was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture and Paul Lukas won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance as Kurt Muller, a German-born anti-fascist in this film.

Eleanor Parker American actress

Eleanor Jean Parker was an American actress. Over the course of her career, she has won the Volpi Cup for Best Actress and received nominations for three Academy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and a Primetime Emmy Award.

<i>Detective Story</i> (1951 film) 1951 film by William Wyler

Detective Story is a 1951 film noir directed by William Wyler that tells the story of one day in the lives of the various people who populate a police detective squad. It features Kirk Douglas, Eleanor Parker, William Bendix, Cathy O'Donnell, and George Macready. Both Lee Grant and Joseph Wiseman perform in their film debuts. The movie was adapted by Robert Wyler and Philip Yordan from the 1949 play of the same name by Sidney Kingsley. It was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Academy Award for Best Director for Wyler, Best Actress for Parker, and Best Supporting Actress for Grant.

Paul Henreid Austrian-American actor and film director

Paul Henreid was an Austrian-British-American actor, director, producer, and writer. He is best remembered for two film roles: Victor Laszlo in Casablanca and Jerry Durrance in Now, Voyager, both released between 1942 and 1943.

Edmund Gwenn English actor

Edmund Gwenn was an English actor. On film, he is best remembered for his role as Kris Kringle in the Christmas film Miracle on 34th Street (1947), for which he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and the corresponding Golden Globe Award. He received a second Golden Globe and another Academy Award nomination for the comedy film Mister 880 (1950). He is also remembered for being in four films directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

<i>Of Human Bondage</i>

Of Human Bondage is a 1915 novel by W. Somerset Maugham. It is generally agreed to be his masterpiece and to be strongly autobiographical in nature, although Maugham stated, "This is a novel, not an autobiography; though much in it is autobiographical, more is pure invention." Maugham, who had originally planned to call his novel Beauty from Ashes, finally settled on a title taken from a section of Spinoza's Ethics. The Modern Library ranked Of Human Bondage No. 66 on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.

<i>The Great Lie</i> 1941 film by Edmund Goulding

The Great Lie is a 1941 American drama film directed by Edmund Goulding, and starring Bette Davis, George Brent and Mary Astor. The screenplay by Lenore J. Coffee is based on the novel January Heights by Polan Banks.

John Cromwell, was an American film and stage director and actor. His films spanned the early days of sound to 1950s film noir, when his directing career was cut short by the Hollywood blacklist.

<i>Its a Great Feeling</i>

It's a Great Feeling is a 1949 American Technicolor musical comedy film starring Doris Day, Jack Carson, and Dennis Morgan in a parody of what goes on behind the scenes in Hollywood movie making. The screenplay by Jack Rose and Mel Shavelson was based upon a story by I. A. L. Diamond. The film was directed by David Butler, produced by Alex Gottlieb and distributed by Warner Bros.

<i>Between Two Worlds</i> (1944 film) American World War II fantasy drama film

Between Two Worlds is a 1944 American World War II fantasy drama film starring John Garfield, Paul Henreid, Sydney Greenstreet, and Eleanor Parker. It is a remake of the film Outward Bound (1930), itself based on the 1923 play Outward Bound by Sutton Vane. It is not, as is sometimes claimed, a remake of Fritz Lang's Destiny.

<i>Deception</i> (1946 film) 1946 American film with Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, and Claude Rains directed by Irving Rapper

Deception is a 1946 American film noir drama released by Warner Brothers and directed by Irving Rapper. The film is based on the 1927 play Monsieur Lamberthier by Louis Verneuil. The screenplay was written by John Collier and Joseph Than. It stars Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, and Claude Rains, who had also appeared together in the highly successful Now, Voyager (1942).

<i>Of Human Bondage</i> (1934 film) 1934 film by John Cromwell

Of Human Bondage is a 1934 American pre-Code drama film directed by John Cromwell and is widely regarded by critics as the film that made Bette Davis a star. The screenplay by Lester Cohen is based on the 1915 novel Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham.

<i>Winter Meeting</i>

Winter Meeting is a 1948 American drama film directed by Bretaigne Windust and starring Bette Davis and Jim Davis. The screenplay, based on the novel of the same name by Grace Zaring Stone, was written by Catherine Turney.

<i>Of Human Bondage</i> (1964 film) 1964 film by Ken Hughes

Of Human Bondage is a 1964 British drama film directed by Ken Hughes. The MGM release, the third screen adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham's 1915 novel, was written by Bryan Forbes.

<i>Devotion</i> (1946 film) 1946 film directed by Curtis Bernhardt

Devotion is a 1946 American biographical film directed by Curtis Bernhardt and starring Ida Lupino, Paul Henreid, Olivia de Havilland, and Sydney Greenstreet. Based on a story by Theodore Reeves, the film is a highly fictionalized account of the lives of the Brontë sisters. The movie features Montagu Love's last role; he died almost three years before the film's delayed release.

Of Human Bondage is a novel by W. Somerset Maugham published in 1915.

<i>The Conspirators</i> (1944 film) 1944 film by Jean Negulesco

The Conspirators is a 1944 American film noir, World War II, drama, spy, and thriller film directed by Jean Negulesco. It stars Hedy Lamarr and Paul Henreid, features Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre in supporting roles, and has cameo of Aurora Miranda singing a Fado. The Conspirators reunites several performers who appeared in Casablanca (1942).

Catherine Turney was an American writer and screenwriter. Born in Chicago, Illinois, she was active from the 1930s to the 1970s. She was one of the first women writers to become a contract worker at Warner Brothers, where she worked from 1943 to 1948 on films such as The Man I Love, A Stolen Life, and My Reputation.

References

  1. "Of Human Bondage 1946". Turner Classic Movies . Atlanta: Turner Broadcasting System (Time Warner). Retrieved August 15, 2016.
  2. "Of Human Bondage 1934". Turner Classic Movies . Atlanta: Turner Broadcasting System (Time Warner). Retrieved August 15, 2016.
  3. Brown 1995, p. 119.
  4. Henreid, Paul; Fast, Julius (1984). Ladies man : an autobiography. St. Martin's Press. p. 172.
  5. Of Human Bondage at Turner Classic Movies
  6. Henreid, Paul; Fast, Julius (1984). Ladies man : an autobiography. St. Martin's Press. p. 174.
  7. New York Times review
  8. Variety review
  9. TV Guide review

Sources