Posted by Sarah
All are welcome to attend the first of this term’s screening and discussion sessions which will take place on the 9th of October in Keynes Seminar Room 6, from 4pm to 7pm.
We will be screening Ann-Marie’s choice: Of Human Bondage (1934, John Cromwell, 83 minutes)
Ann-Marie’s introduction to the film:
Based on W. Somerset Maugham’s novel, Of Human Bondage is a story of a man and his infatuation with a cruel, illiterate waitress. Bette Davis stars as a cockney girl that manipulates and almost destroys Philip Carey (Leslie Howard). In this role Davis plays her first real ‘bitch’, and it is here that we can see the beginning of the performance style that reoccurs throughout her career. There are few characters as cruel and as damaged as Mildred Rogers, and Davis took a risk in fighting for this role. It is said that Warner warned her that playing such an unsympathetic character will ruin her popularity before she had the chance to earn it. Warner was wrong. Instead, Davis received critical success for her performance, including an Academy Award nomination.
This film was chosen to consider performance and its relation to the definition of melodrama. Questions to consider before the viewing the film:
- What are the components of a melodramatic performance?
- How much of an influence does performance have on establishing a genre?
- Or, perhaps, do stars carry a performance type that will affect the categorizing of a film?
- Davis admitted that her performance style was theatrical rather than realistic. Is it this style that we find in most melodramas?
- How does performance differ between radio and film? How does this affect melodrama? (Please see a forthcoming post on Bette Davis links for more information.)
Do join us if you can for the first of 3 films which focus on performance.