review for Of Human Bondage on AllMovie

Of Human Bondage (1946)
by Craig Butler review

The 1946 remake of the 1934 film Of Human Bondage is probably best enjoyed by those unfamiliar with the superior original version. The earlier version offered Bette Davis in a breakthrough, star-making performance, putting Eleanor Parker at a disadvantage in this retelling. That's a shame, for while Parker is somewhat miscast and cannot match Davis, she does offer some very fine moments. True, she pushes too hard and is never totally convincing, but she also brings some real power to many scenes and is always interesting; she also is not afraid to create a character that many will find unsympathetic. Paul Henreid also can't quite compare with his predecessor, Leslie Howard, but he does well, and there's a believable chemistry between the two leads. This version also benefits from being set in the correct era (unlike the 1934 Bondage), and it features a fine turn from Edmund Gwenn and a good, if under-utilized, Alexis Smith. When taken on its own merits, rather than compared to the Davis-Howard film, this Bondage is quite good, if somewhat less than classic.