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Directed by John Cromwell
USA 1934

The first of three film versions of Somerset Maugham's Of Human Bondage stars Leslie Howard as sensitive, clubfooted artist-cum-med student Philip Carey. Despite his yearnings for the finer things in life, Carey cannot extricate himself from a mutually destructive relationship with sluttish waitress Mildred Rogers (Bette Davis). After an incredible series of emotional disasters, Carey finally finds happiness in the arms of Sally Altheny (Frances Dee). The industry buzz in 1934 indicated that Bette Davis was a shoe-in for an Academy Award for her savage portrayal of Mildred, but her home studio Warner Bros. failed to mount an adequate publicity campaign on Davis' behalf, allegedly because she'd made the film on loan-out to RKO and Warners wasn't about to heap praise upon a rival. It is now generally conceded that Davis' Oscar win for 1935's Dangerous was consolation for her losing the statuette in 1934. Long out of circulation due to the 1946 remake, the 1934 Of Human Bondage has since slipped into the public domain, and is now seen more often than either of the subsequent remakes (the last was in 1964).

 

  Posters

Theatrical Release: June 28th, 1934

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Comparison:

Roan Group - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Kino - Region FREE - Blu-ray

1) Roan Group - Region 0 - NTSC LEFT

2) Kino - Region FREE - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

Box Cover

Distribution Roan Group - Region 0 - NTSC Kino  - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:22:33  1:23:08.149 
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.90 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

1.33:1 - 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 45,895,999,208 bytes

Feature: 23,362,457,472 bytes

Video Bitrate: 33.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Bitrate:  Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 1.0)  LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
Subtitles None None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Roan Group

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• In a Boxset with 'Mille' (1931) and 'Kept Husbands' (1931)

DVD Release Date: June 29th, 1999

Double thick keep case
Chapters: 19

Release Information:
Studio:
Kino

 

1.33:1 - 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 45,895,999,208 bytes

Feature: 23,362,457,472 bytes

Video Bitrate: 33.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
• 
Revealing Mr. Maugham (1:26:51)

• Trailers

Blu-ray Release Date: June 18th, 2013
Standard
Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 10

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION Kino Blu-ray - June 2013: Kino brings the classic with Davis and Howard to 1080P. It is housed on a dual-layered disc with a high bitrate. There has been no restoration and hence, as we have seen in the past, the higher resolution not only brings out detail more prominently, but also damage. The best attributes of the HD visuals are the superior layered contrast and the film grain - which is rich and thick. The DVD image looks a bit vertically stretched beside the Blu-ray - which also show more information in the frame. Bottom line is that there is no competition - the Kino presentation blows away the, more than decade old, Roan Group SD box (originally reviewed HERE).

Audio is in a lossless linear PCM but still has some of the weaknesses of the original production - dialogue  can be  scattered and tinny. But without a full restoration, I don't doubt that this is the best we will get it. There are no subtitles on the region FREE Blu-ray disc.

Kino have included the 2012, Michael House -directed, Revealing Mr. Maugham - a documentary film on the life and work of author W. Somerset Maugham. His life and work discussed by writers such as Armistead Maupin and Alexander McCall-Smith and experts such as Selina Hastings. It runs about 1.5 hours and is in HD. It has lots of information and is a great extra. There are also some trailers.

I think this is a wonderful film - I've always been a big fan - and seeing it look so much better and the inclusion of the supplementary documentary adds even more value. We give it a strong recommendation!

***

ON THE DVD: Unfortunately this film is in the Public Domain and hence there are a number of DVD representations, but the Roan Group's solid reputation supports this as the finest of the bunch. It even appears to be progressive, but as the film has limited horizontal pans it is hard to say with 100% certainty. I can say that I found absolutely no combing evident in this transfer. There are many scratches and damage marks, mostly in the first 1/3 of the film. There has obviously been no restoration although in my opinion the film definitely warrants one. Film grain is visible which is always a good sign as far as I am concerned. Audio has a few inconsistencies but was, for the most part, very clear and defined - I found the background music disproportionately dynamic beside the spoken dialogue. This DVD was produced in 1999 and understandably has no menus or bonus features relating to the film. Roan have, however, have added two other pre-code films, Millie, and Kept Husbands, both looking a little worse for wear (see captures below). These are on opposite sides of a separate DVD5. Both lesser films but they do contain a more salacious element than 'Of Human Bondage'. Certainly worthwhile viewing. Unless this gets put out by a major studio (it probably won't being PD) this is the edition that we recommend at present. An understated but very watchable DVD.

Gary W. Tooze

 

 

Menus Kino - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 



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Screen Captures

 

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2) Kino - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Roan Group - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Kino - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 


Box Cover

Distribution Roan Group - Region 0 - NTSC Kino  - Region FREE - Blu-ray




 

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