Of Human Bondage (Force) (1934)
|Year Of Production||1934|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||John Cromwell|
Beyond Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.37:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||None||Smoking||Yes, Extensive throughout.|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Philip Carey (Leslie Howard) is a club-footed medical student who becomes smitten with arrogant, amoral working-class waitress Mildred Rogers. The story revolves around the emotional and financial havoc which Mildred (Bette Davis) wreaks on Philip. She abuses his kind-heartedness and chivalry throughout the film, taking his attention, money and hospitality whilst giving him only heartache in return. Despite the attentions of the far more attractive pulp novelist Norah (Kay Johnson) and the charming Sally (Frances Dee), Philip stoically endures the torture of his obsessive relationship with Mildred.
It is somewhat perplexing as to why Philip continues to be infatuated with Mildred, as she fails to display any redeeming features throughout the film. Perhaps, as a resigned Philip says in the movie "There is usually one who loves...and one who is loved". This emotional sadomasochism is somewhat depressing to watch, as Philip seems unable to defend himself whilst Mildred takes a twisted pleasure in humiliating him both in private and in public. Howard is typecast as the pathetic English gentleman with the fledgling Davis bitter and vitriolic well beyond her years. Whilst Davis' slightly melodramatic acting hints at her future stardom, her "Cockney" accent is poor and grates throughout.
This is my first review, and I approached it with some trepidation as this movie was made in 1934. That's almost 70 years ago for those of you without a calculator handy! With that in mind, much of the language used in the film is somewhat quaint and your expectations of image and sound quality should be tailored appropriately. If you are unfamiliar with this W. Somerset Maugham tale, then ensure you do not read the back-jacket blurb before watching the movie. The entire story is given away in significant detail, which completely undermines the plot development in the actual film.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced.
The transfer suffers from a distinct lack of sharpness. There are numerous occasions where close-up shots of telegrams and letters are almost unreadable, for example at 40:10 and 73:15. This is frustrating as they are often used to convey important plot information. There is a lack of shadow detail evident throughout the movie, with darker scenes often impenetrable.
The transfer is marred by MPEG artefacts and has been heavily overcompressed, with Gibb's effect apparent throughout. Macro blocking is also present throughout, which contributes to the film's distinct lack of sharpness.
Film artefacts abound, with flecks, specks, reel-change marks and scratches cropping up throughout the movie. Collectively, these are mildly distracting, but are not unexpected given the age of the source material. There are also instances where the film jumps, skipping a number of frames, most noticeably at 4:40.
There are no subtitles present on the disc.
This is a single layered disc.
There is an extremely irritating "click" almost every time the camera shot is changed and between every scene change. This is very distracting and good examples can be heard between 5:30 and 6:45.
There is only one audio track on the disc, which is English Dolby Digital 2.0. The soundtrack has a very mono feel throughout.
The dialogue was usually clear but there were occasions when it became distorted, for example between 51:45 and 52:30. Leslie Howard's speech occasionally appeared slurred and was not helped by his habit of talking with a pipe in his mouth. There was some hiss apparent during quiet periods between dialogue and the sound appears to drop out altogether for a few seconds at 43:02.
The musical score is credited to Austrian composer Max Steiner and, whilst not particularly memorable, the sad strings do suit the generally melancholy mood of the film well. Steiner was a major composer for American movies and wrote scores for some of the most important films of the day including Gone with the Wind and King Kong. He won three Academy Awards for his compositions - this was not one of them.
The surround channels were not used.
As would be expected, the subwoofer was totally unused throughout the movie.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The video quality is poor, but acceptable for a 70 year old film.
The audio quality is poor.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-344 Multi-Region, using Component output|
|Display||Panasonic TX-47P500H 47" Widescreen RPTV. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Speakers||JensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer|