MovieChat Forums > Of Human BondageĀ (1964) Discussion > better than the Davis-Hward version

better than the Davis-Hward version


This was much better than the 1934 version. Although neither leading lady could make you believe that she was a cockney waitress, Kim Novak was much better. If only they could have cast Glynnis Johns or a younger Angela Lansbury clone, it would have been perfect. Alas, anyone who saw Kim in Picnic was hooked. How many members are aware that this novel was in many ways autobiograsphical, since Maugham spent time in medical school as a young man.
I have often wondered if Maugham himself had an affair at that time that went sour, which might have driven him in the direction he eventually turned to, despite, like Wilde, marrying and siring children. Of Human Bondasge is a monumental work, which no film could do proper justice, but I believe it is a fine film, nevertheless. They were right to leasve it in its original Victorian era, when the class distinctions were sharper, and the irony of sa young man from a privileged background becoming obsessed with a young woman from the lower order underlined Maugham,s ability, like Balzac in Terese Racquin, to lay bare the human psyche.
Buck35

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Sorry but I can't compare the two versions. 30 years between each other... Impossible.

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So Bette Davis had no talent at all? For God's sake... Every performance was exactly the same? How many pictures of Davis have you seen?

For Bette's sake!

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Classic, hysteric borderline personality disorder was far better and more widely understood in 1964 than in 1934, even though Freud, Bleuler, Krepelin and others had written about "hysteric" personalities like Mildred's in the 1890s. Bette's rendition suited Maugham's novel fairly well, actually. Novak's was a bit further away from what Freud et al described in their papers and books, BUT was more like the "broader" spectrum of BPD (now sometimes called DID or dissociative identity disorder) with which mental health professionals are quite familiar these days. . . . . BPD/DID became a popular character device in the 1990s with Michael Douglas doing the Leslie Howard / Lawrence Harvey roles quite famously with Sharon Stone and Glenn Close, as well as with Demi Moore. Those depictions are far more sociopathic than Davis's or Novak's, but BPD/DID has often presented itself that way in the courtroom after some vicious murder or castration. If you find out your very seductive here / very rejecting or blaming there lover was serial-raped by a father or mother's boyfriend, say nothing, get out, relocate and change your phone #.

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Well now I wish I watched the 1964 version. I'll try to catch it next time. When I saw the title of this film listed twice in a row on the TCM page on IMDb yesterday, I figured it was the '30s and '40s versions which I've seen so I skipped them.

I think my biggest problem with the Davis/Howard version is the camera work -- the way the director had the actors speak directly into the camera on multiple occasions. I know fictionally speaking, those characters are talking to other characters and not the cameras, but for me it cheapens the production and takes me out of the story.

With the 1946 version I only enjoy scenes without Eleanor Parker. I like Parker, however with that character not being a sympathetic one at all, it doesn't make enough sense to me that Philip would be as devoted as he is to her.


Mag, Darling, you're being a bore.

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It was a completely different era in movie making when DAvis did her version. Nothing was "nuanced".

For Davis to do what she did in this movie in 1934 was unthinkable.

I just can't believe people are comparing the two.

Kim Novak was beautiful, but she was no Bette Davis. I think even Kim would acknowledge that.

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[deleted]

This was much better than the 1934 version.

Imo it was also much better than the 1946 version as well!
Kim Novak: This is not up there with her performance in Vertigo but she still did a decent job!

"I promise you, before I die I'll surely come to your doorstep"

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I have to agree that this was much better than the '34 version, if only because it was more true to the novel. Kim Novak was far more believable in her performance that Bette Davis was. It may just be the difference between Hollywood in the '30s vs. Hollywood in the '60s, but the original version was SO melodramatic.

I haven't seen the second filmed version, but I like this one the best of the two I've seen.

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Neither actress was believable as a cockney, but Kim was much better. Personally I always wondered why Davis was considered such a great actress. In some ways this novel may have been autobiographical, bacause Maugham did study to become a physician before becoming a novelist, and he did marry and father two children before settling down into a long term gay relationship with a younger man.

Buck35

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OH DEAR GOD. BETTE DAVIS CHANGED FILM HISTORY AND ACTING. She was the first actress to actually de-glam. She was tour de force in the 30's and 40's. So many shining moments. Her transformations in The Old Maid, Now, Voyager, and Mr Skefington name just a few of the times she did something NO ONE in hollywood would dare. Even Brando and Streep credit her as the FIRST to change acting.

Just a few of her outstanding moments.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7XGivFuMQos

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19xo7NAHQl0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxgVf_0GHm4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REhPPHHHj98

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Hah. I aboslutely agree that Davis was colossally overrated. So she "de-glammed." So what? Big deal. It's easy to be ugly and shrill. Glamour is hard.

An overrated no-talent who simply appealed to the haters of artistic beauty -- who exist in every generation.

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First, Bette Davis. I think that when you watch her when she was very young, such as in "Petrified Forest", you can see that she really did have talent. But, often when Hollywood actors got big, I think that some of the directors failed to direct them. Bette Davis did some very good work, and some very bad. She was allowed to develop a style of overacting that ultimately hurt much of her work.

But we are talking about a 30 year gap between movies. So many changes in the business and in what audiences expected by 1964. We are drawn to comparing any remakes, but maybe we should take them on just what each one is.

Second, Somerset Maugham. He is often compared as a British version of F.Scott Fitzgerald. They both wrote primarily as the generation after the Great War. Some of their themes were similar to each other in tracing the difficulties of those that fought that war, and those that waited for their soldiers to come home. What life was like in the years after the war. What it did to everyone. Maugham did put many autobiographical things into his works. I don't think any one book could be said to be his own life story, but there was a liberal sprinkling throughout his works. That is not surprising though when you think about it. Fitzgerald too.

Both Maugham and Fitzgerald ending up writing a lot for the movie industry. Some of it was doing their own books, and Fitzgerald wrote screenplays for other people's books often. His name was often left off the credits however. Hollywood loved them both though. There were movies made from both author's books.

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I recall reading many years ago that the novel was loosely based on a gay affair Maugham had when he was a young man. The emotions are essentially autobiographical even if the circumstances are fictional.

I also preferred Novak, but I'm not a big fan of Davis.

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I am a huge Bette Davis fan, and I believe she was immensely talented, but I think the 1964 version is better than the 1934 film.

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I'll have to go back and see the Davis/Howard again but I always used to say it was better than this version. (I don't think I've seen the 46 version)
I read the novel at the tender age of 14 and LOVED it, one of my all-time favorites.
One thing is for sure, these movies CAN'T do the novel justice. IMO you would have to extend a film version to at least three hours to catch most of the nuances and side-plots. I saw this again last nite on TCM and many scenes seemed rushed.
Nora Nesbitt is in and out of the film in a flash for example.
I thought Harvey/Novak did a good job but, as a disciple of the book, I never pictured the leads as anywhere NEAR as handsome/attractive as these two. Seeing it again, it was difficult to not think of this thruout.

But I guess even a mediocre film effort of a great novel makes for a decent film.

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The 1934 version is by far the best . Bette Davis will always be the definitive Mildred Rogers : the most despicable one , but somehow the most sympathetic , the most sinister , but also the most pathetic , the most evil in spreading destruction , but the most tragic in her self-destructiveness .

Novak's performance was typically wooden and lifeless and that's the main reason you can't feel much involved in the story in this case . It really diminishes the power of the movie , which would be an adequate product otherwise .

What kind of accent was Kim trying to do BTW ? It's not cockney , it's not British , it's not American .. everytime she says "alright" she actually seems to give some kind of French intonation to the word ! She also should have patented one of the most stupid laughs ever heard on the screen ..

Eleanor Parker ( from the 46 version ) was also light years ahead of Kim .

The only thing I have to say is that Larry Harvey is my favourite Philip . True , he's probably too handsome for the role ( it doesn't sound right when Mildred tells him he won't find any other woman who won't be disgusted by his sight .. ) but he gave the character a major vulnerability and timidness compared to both Howard and Paul Henreid . I liked that .

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This was indeed far superior to the Davis/Howard version in many respects. I thought the 1934 version had a stronger characterization of Philip's colleague who ran off with Mildred. Also, Mildred's suffering when she was unceremoniously dumped by him was starkly depicted when she wouldn't leave his doorstep.
Kim Novak was very convincing as Mildred, more so than Betty Davis. Part of it was the script and the scenes that showed her to be more conniving and self-centered. Howard and Harvey were both very good aa Philip, but Howard's characerization was hampered by a corny screenplay. Harvey's brooding character elicited more compassion.
By the way, have you seen the Charlton Heston tv version from 1949? The actress who played Mildred had the cockney accent down, but she was laughably unattractive for the role.
Kim Novak's beauty made her much more convincing than Betty Davis. You can see men wanting her constantly. Some beautiful women are like Novak's character...not too bright and out for themselves.

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better than the Davis-Hward version

That's very funny :)

"It's the system, Lara. People will be different after the Revolution."

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