» » Madame Bovary (1949)

Short summary

French author Gustave Flaubert is on trial for writing the "indecent" novel "Madame Bovary." To prove that he wrote a moral tale, Flaubert narrates the story of beautiful Emma Bovary, an adulteress who destroyed the lives of everyone she came in contact with.

After the expensive box-office failure of "The Pirate", director Vincente Minnelli worked hard to cut corners on this film, fearing he might be otherwise be accused of extravagance. However, he devoted a great deal of time to the ball sequence, which he regarded as the most important scene in the film; he even had composer Miklos Rozsa compose the waltz theme used in it well in advance of the start of filming.

The Breen Office opposed the film, saying that it had too many controversies and innuendo; everything from the make-up to the kissing scenes had to be slightly toned down to appease the censors.

Director Vincente Minnelli wanted Lana Turner for the role of Emma, but Turner found the script dull and flat, refusing to accept the role; she was also pregnant at the time, another reason for her turning it down. Jennifer Jones was cast instead.

Minnelli originally wanted James Mason for the role of Rodolphe, eventually played by Louis Jourdan, but Mason instead took the role of Gustave Flaubert in the framing story.

The white dress worn by Emma Bovary (Jennifer Jones) is similar to the gown worn by Gigi (Leslie Caron) in "Gigi". Both are elegant white gowns with blackbirds at the shoulder. Minnelli directed both films and must have given Gigi costume designer, Cecil Beaton, this direction.

User reviews

  • comment
    • Author: elegant stranger
    MADAME BOVARY is something of an underrated Hollywood classic! Produced by Pandro S. Berman for MGM in 1949 it was one of the last movies of Hollywood's Golden Age! Directed with a positive flair by the ubiquitous Vincente Minnelli it was stylishly written for the screen by Robert Ardrey from the "outragious" novel by Gustav Flaubert and crisply photographed in gorgeous black & white by Robert Planck.

    Jennifer Jones gives a superb performance as Emma Bovary the beautiful young vivacious woman in 19th century France who pursues her insatiable appetite for love and romance with reckless abandon resulting in her total moral decay, the neglect and alienation of her husband and young child and her eventual suicide. The actress applied herself assiduously to the role, almost eclipsing her Acadamy Award winning portrayal in "Song Of Bernadette" six years earlier. Excellent also is Van Heflin as her long suffering mild mannered doctor husband and Louis Jordan as Rudolphe - one of her lovers. Also making a striking appearance at the start of the picture is James Mason in an effective cameo as the novelist Flaubert himself who is in court on a charge of corrupting public morals with the publication of his "shameful" novel "Madame Bovary". Then from the dock Flaubert (Mason) begins to narrate the story of his infamous heroine as the film unfolds.

    Underlining this heated melodrama is the wonderful music of Miklos Rozsa. This was the great composer's first score for MGM. This would be the beginning of Rozsa's most lavish and most prestigious productive period! Here at MGM he would create, among others, such outstanding works as "Quo Vadis", "Ivanhoe", "Plymouth Adventure", "All The Brothers Were Valiant", "Valley Of The Kings", "Knights Of The Round Table", "Green Fire" and culminating in 1959 with his masterpiece "Ben Hur". His score for "Madame Bovary" abounds with exquisite character themes such as those for the lovers Rudolphe (Jordan) and Leon (Christopher Kent). But his most appealing theme is reserved for the husband Dr. Bovary (Heflin) which has an engaging lyrical wistfulness to it. And the theme for the main protagonist - first heard in the Main Title - is troubled and turgid, perfectly reflecting the character of Emma Bovary. Of course the highlight and showpiece of the score is the swirling and dizzying waltz he composed for the elaborate ballroom sequence - the film's most memorable scene!

    The DVD transfer is exceptional with well defined Monochrome images. But the extras aren't up to very much! There is a good trailer but there is no commentary and quite dispensable is a Droopy cartoon and a tired Pete Smith Specialty. However a movie like this that is well written, well played and beautifully shot and scored is well worth having in any collection!
  • comment
    • Author: Tehn
    Madame Bovary (1949): Jennifer Jones, Louis Jourdan, Van Heflin, James Mason, Alf Kjellin, Gladys Cooper, John Abbott, Gene Lockhart, Harry Morgan, Frank Allenby, Ellen Corby, George Zucco, Eduard Franz, Henri Letondal, Esther Somers, Paul Cavanaugh, Frederic Tozere, Vernon Steele, John Ardizoni, Charles Bancroft, Paul Bryar, David Cavendish, Fred Cordova, George Davis, Edith Evanson, Jack George, Stuart Holmes, Karl Johnson, Gracille LaVinder, Bert LeBaron, Manuel Paris, Lon Poff, Constance Purdy, Phil Schumacher, Helen St. Rayner, Sailor Vincent....Director Vincente Minnelli, Screenplay Robert Ardrey.

    French novelist Gustave Flaubert's classic masterpiece has enjoyed a long history of film adaptations. This version, from 1949 and directed by Hollywood legend Vincente Minnelli, however, takes the crown for the most faithful, most unique and interesting adaptation of the book. No, it's not perfect and it is by far the most "Hollywood" of the film versions, and it's but one of many films adapted from 19th century novels released at the end of the 1940's (Anna Karenina with Vivien Leigh and Ralph Richardson and "The Heiress" with Olivia De Havilland are others). The cinematography is grand, the sets and costumes are beautiful, perhaps too beautiful and even so, this is a supreme work of cinema and those who have read and enjoyed Madame Bovary will be sure to appreciate this film. Jennifer Jones stars as the eponymous Madame, the doomed "fallen woman" who seeks escape from her dull provincial life and marriage. Gorgeous Jennifer Jones was once an unknown actress in 30's Hollywood until her marriage to David O. Selznick rocketed her to fame. This is possibly her best performance on film, for compared to the vixenish/innocent characters she portrayed in other films, this particular performance is developed and more challenging for her. Rather than portraying Mme. Bovary as victim of fate we are forced to sympathize with, she goes all out in making her appear spoiled, self-centered and careless. Her addictions ? Living luxuriously as if she were a member of French aristocracy. But the truth is far less glamorous. She married a country doctor, Charles (Van Heflin), and was initially happy. But boredom quickly sets in. Charles is constantly away on house-calls, often in distant locales, and house-frau Emma feels trapped. Seeking to live a rich and exciting life, such as the lives of women she has read about in countless romance novels, she makes friends with prominent Parisians when she sets up a salon in her home. She goes to a ball where she meets Rodolphe Boulanger (Louis Jourdan) who becomes her lover. She gives birth to a girl, when she had wanted a boy (to live vicariously through on account of males being free and women having less rights). She neglects her home and pursues her passions with Rodolphe. Ultimately, Rodolphe has used her and tires of the affair, abandoning her after promising an elopement. Things begin to go downhill from there. She takes up another lover, her husband's friend Leon Dupuis (Alf Kjellin). Because she has furnished the home with expensive furniture, wears costly imported gowns from Paris, debts mount and soon there is no money left to pay the house with. In despair, she drinks arsenic and dies. This is not a pretty story. The addition of Gustav Flaubert's court trial (his book was banned in France) is a superb touch. Flaubert (James Mason) defends himself by stating that Mme. Bovary is a figure straight out of reality and that he was only mirroring reality. Madame Bovary's drowns in her own excesses. Paris, too, could die the same way. Minnelli's film is a winner in many respects. The music by Miklos Rozsa is both touching and dramatic. The cinematography by Robert Planck has the feel of old Hollywood costume epic. The costumes are from veteran Hollywood costume designer Walter Plunkett (of Gone With The Wind). The best touches are found within the film's structure. For instance, at the ball, Emma becomes the center of attention and guests go as far as to break windows when she gasps for air after a dizzying waltz. Louis Jourdan as Rodolphe is perfectly cast, and here he is at the beginning of his long career in film. He may not be doing anything particularly good, but he fits the character's shallowness and selfishness (like Madame Bovary's) quite well. Van Helfin as the long-suffering, betrayed husband is terrific. This film, unfortunately, is one that time has forgot and what a shame. There's so many reasons to preserve it: Vincente Minelli (who would marry Judy Garland and father Liza Minnelli) felt this was one of his early masterpieces and would later go on to make other hit films like "Gigi" (working again with Jourdan). If you must watch one Mme. Bovary film, make it this one. It's also highly recommended for viewing in college English classes reading the book.
  • comment
    • Author: Nuadador
    Jennifer Jones is "Madame Bovary" in this 1949 adaptation of Flaubert's novel, directed by Vincente Minnelli and also starring Van Heflin, James Mason, Louis Jourdan, Gene Lockhart, Alf Kjellin and Ellen Corby. The film starts with Flaubert, on trial for indecency. As he defends the book, he tells the story of Emma Bovary, a delusional young woman living on a farm who, from romantic novels, has unrealistic ideas about love and happiness. She nabs a simple country doctor (Van Heflin) and proceeds to buy herself an incredible wardrobe and live as a rich woman, even though she and her husband are not wealthy. She has a little girl whom she ignores, leaving her to the nurse (Corby). Emma soon becomes bored and attempts to seduce a young man (Kjellin), but his mother (Gladys Cooper) catches on and sends him to Paris. Then she meets Boulanger (Jourdan) at a party, becomes his lover and plans to run away with him to Italy - but he sees what high maintenance she is and takes off without her. In an attempt to make her husband more prominent, she attempts to talk him into performing a new surgery, but he refuses (in the book, however, he's ambitious as well and does the surgery, which is a failure). Meanwhile, unbeknownst to her husband, she owes a fortune, and if she doesn't find a way out, the family is due to lose their home and furnishings.

    "Madame Bovary" is one of the most stunning films ever made, with a captivating performance by Jones who makes Emma pathetic, desperate, frantic and sympathetic. As one of the comments on the board pointed out, it's easy to make Emma unlikable. With Jones' natural charm making her likable and somewhat sweet, we can see ourselves in Emma. She has great backup from Heflin as her cowed husband. Jourdan is handsome and arrogant - he sees his future with Emma, and he doesn't like it.

    Minnelli handles every detail beautifully in this film. Not enough can be said about the waltz at the party, its dizzying effects making it one of the most thrilling scenes on film. When Emma later puts on the same gown and looks in the mirror and remembers that night, we know for her it was the ultimate dream evening, when she become one with the heroines of the novels she read. The gowns - well, there have been beautiful gowns in films - the 1938 Marie Antoinette comes to mind - and, as in that film, these gowns are works of art, particularly the white ball gown. When Boulanger returns from Italy, and Emma goes to see him, she actually looks different - tired and older - the subtlety of the makeup is spectacular.

    Though set in France in the mid-1800s, Madame Bovary is a classic because it deals with an ordinary person so dazzled by illusion that she cannot accept anything about her life as it exists. How apropos for today, when the media bludgeons us with multimillion dollar homes, heiresses who go to parties every night, size zero, red carpet premieres - it's hard to be happy when you're a housewife in sweats paying $4 a gallon for gas. Even before films, television, the tabloids and the Internet, people weren't satisfied with their lives because they were told to compare their inside with someone else's outside and found themselves not measuring up.

    "Madame Bovary" isn't an immorality tale, it's a morality tale and, of course, Flaubert was acquitted. It's considered one of the two greatest novels ever written, along with Anna Karenina, and it's perfectly adapted for film in the 1949 version - the story of a woman who thinks that shopping on credit till she drops is the way to real happiness. Like many in the 20th and 21st centuries have found, she was wrong.
  • comment
    • Author: Invissibale
    It is impossible to do a perfect movie version of any novel. This is particular true about great novels. There have been huge numbers of versions of Les Miserables, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Tom Jones, David Copperfield, War and can add the titles... and while many are really impressive as movies (or are favorites of the viewers) few of them are as good as the novel. It's because there is a serious change in the art form involved - the written word can be read and interpreted in so many ways, while the cinematic "eye" of the film may not encapsulate all the writer planned to push with his/her words.

    When Gustave Flaubert wrote MADAME BOVARY in the middle of the 19th Century, he shook up that country in a way that was unusual. Flaubert wrote a story of passion and love, but from the standpoint of a female bourgeoisie in the countryside. And one who finds her escape from humdrum provincial life by her overly romantic imagination. But Emma Bovary is doomed by that imagination, and the unscrupulous reactions to it by the men who dominated that same provincial world. Her lovers, like the aristocratic Rodolphe, see her as a willing tool for their pleasure, or as a silly impediment to their careers (as her lawyer lover soon finds). As the strands of her romanticism are lopped off, as the debts she gets that her husband Charles cannot pay lead to bankruptcy, she goes to pieces and kills herself.

    The full novel is wonderful, and even now I consider it possibly the best 19th Century novel. But it's appearance met with public disbelief and anger. Flaubert was put on trial for publishing an immoral book. The censors and hypocrites felt that he had besmirched the pious middle classes of the France of the 1840s and 1850s. Flaubert was acquitted, and the scandal of the trial improved the sales of the novel.

    Vincent Minnelli's 1949 movie can't reach the effect of the full novel - and I say this thinking that I could only read it in English, so that I can imagine what it must be in French! He does peel the skin of the provincial society, with it's social leaders, money lenders (like Lhereux - Frank Allenby) here who are all business and no sentiment, aristocrats (Rodolphe is Louis Jourdan), and attempts to push themselves into the greater world outside. Just as Emma sees herself the object of desire by aristocrats at the ball Rodolphe throws, the village sees itself made into a household name if Charles can perform the great foot operation that will restore one of the rustics feet to normal. Both are in for great disappointment.

    Minnelli sense of composition works wonders in the film. The scene where Emma finally is the center of attention looks shows her surrounded by handsome beaus in a mirror - it looks like an idea from the mid-century painter Winterhalter (although he was Austrian). The backwoods provincial background is caught perfectly. When debts starts swooping around a frightened Emma, she goes to a man she respects, and finds he's ready to make a financial arrangement if she'll sleep with him!

    Minnelli surrounds the telling of the story by showing the trial of Flaubert. James Mason plays the writer, eloquently "forgiving" his heroine for flaunting the conventions of a hypocritical society. Jennifer Jones possibly had her best performance in this film - not her Oscar winner, SONG OF BERNADETTE. The climatic moment when she decides to destroy herself makes her behave like an animal - and she is a trapped animal at that point. Van Heflin plays the good-natured but boring Charles quite well.

    Actually the cast was up to snuff regarding their parts, and somewhat surprising. George Zuuco, for example, is the lawyer (Dubocage) whose clerk Leon (Alf Kjelin) was Emma's second lover. He does not appear frequently but appears reading the papers of a lawsuit that Emma is trying to use to raise money on her father-in-law's prospective estate. Zucco is appalled by it, and angrily confronts Leon about this waste of time for their busy office. But a moment afterward, Zucco suddenly realizes why Leon is doing this. Actually (for a Zucco character) he softens, and says, "Do yourself a favor and forget her my boy." Not helpful for poor Emma, but actually sensible for Leon (who has a future in law).
  • comment
    • Author: DrayLOVE
    Wonderful performances by Jones and Heflin and splendid directorial realization overcome the spurious moralizing fore and aft tags in which Metro saw fit to sandwich the story. There were complaints for years about the scripting of the novel, but tell me, "What's missing?" I've read the novel at least a dozen times and seen the film many more times than that and all that is missing is Flaubert's 'Proustian' tendency to meander all around his themes with just one more detail. And, after the recent tedious Elizabeth Hubert version this film is exemplary in its efficiency and that makes me wonder if any of the original reviewers ever did read the book. Of course, the ball sequence is without peer, an unyielding display of erotic romanticism and unabashed narcissism. Bravo Vincent, Brava Jennifer!
  • comment
    • Author: The Sinners from Mitar
    Madame Bovary is a difficult piece to translate to film. It is very easy for the heroine to become either dislikable: either willfull (the PBS version with Francesca Annis) or peevish (the Isabelle Hubert french version).

    What Minnelli so masterfully and ironically captures here is the "dream machine" that drives Madame Bovary (and society) to be dissatisfied with their daily lives, to want and need more and therefore to be perpetually unhappy with what they have. Of course, Minnelli was part of that machine for Hollywood, which is the irony. Here he uses the period-correct analogy of romance novels and magazine ads (and to a lesser extent operas and plays) as vehicles that feed and drive Bovary's dissonance with her reality. (James Mason as Flaubert, too!)

    The irony that Flaubert was faulted for denegrating the french woman is fully captured here as well. This version still doesn't get to a real meaty statement of realization that men were not considered immoral or corrupt it they have affairs and forget about their children; but women were. Personally, I think that may have been one of Flaubert's real points - this same behavior would have been tolerated and venerated in a male.

    Where this production succeeds so brilliantly over the others I mentioned is in the writing and performance of Emma. She is clearly delineated as being a victim of the commercials of her time - the ultimate consumer, and therefore very identifiable. Jone's own personal charm also factors in here. Her fresh innocence and desire to be liked and to entertain come through the role and make her sweeter. Annis is often a bit self satisfied and Hubbert ice cold, making their Emmas less likable, although perfectly valid and well performed roles, just the difference that writing, production and acting bring to the role.

    Minnelli liked women and identified with foibles. He gives a very nice slant to Dr. Bovary, too. (Gives him a little more self knowledge and honor than Flaubert did, which also colors the relationship and the film.) Louis Jordan as her dream man is also colored very nicely here, as being sincerely in love with her and very conflicted. Something he does very well, and this all creates a marvelously satisfying production and package. When you add the great score, you have a very fine film indeed.
  • comment
    • Author: Vudomuro
    Three versions stand out as far as Flaubert's classic is concerned:the Jean Renoir one,with Valentine Tessier,which has not worn well,the acting has become unconvincing and almost lurid when you see it today,Minelli's version and Claude Chabrol's starring Isabelle Huppert ,which doesn't avoid totally academism,despite Jean-François Balmer's portrayal of Charles that steals the show . Now for Minelli 's attempt:some have been hard on his rendition,and however,it features the best Emma ever:Jennifer Jones,the romantic heroine par excellence.Her savage beauty,looking tense,triumphs here. The supporting acts are well-chosen:Van Heflin is oafish,meek.The French Louis Jourdan is well-cast as Rodolphe Boulanger,Emma's lover who betrays her and leaves her to despair.Their final confrontation,in Boulanger's luxury mansion oozes hatred and contempt. The main drawback is the rural background:Minelli did not realize how this country life disgusted Emma:the wedding,a very very peasant one ,which Flaubert describes in lavish detail,is too short on the screen.The farms are too clean-Emma dreamed her childhood away because she could not stand the mediocrity of her milieu.She jumped out of the frying pan into the fire:a two-bit doctor,a would-be sawbones who 's totally incompetent.Van Heflin's rendering makes up for Minelli's weaknesses.The movie is sandwiched between two brief scenes of Flaubert 's trial (He was accused of immorality in his book),that's redundant.It would have been better to tell the audience about Emma's daughter's terrible fate:after the doctor's death,an orphan,she becomes a worker in a spinning mill.Supreme decay for a mother who was longing to be a socialite.
  • comment
    • Author: Ishnllador
    Many readers have found Gustave Flaubert's classic novel 'Madame Bovary' somewhat cold and dispassionate, but few will have that complaint after watching this film. Jennifer Jones' flesh-and-blood embodiment of Emma Bovary has passion and emotion to burn, yet it still manages to remain in the spirit of Flaubert's work. Vincente Minneli's direction is brilliant and at times stunning. Witness the waltz sequence. Besides being so aesthetically wonderful, just think what a technical marvel this scene must have been in 1949! I can recommend this version of 'Madame Bovary' without reservation.

    Jones' center-stage presence dominates, of course, but the performance of Van Heflin as another memorable character, the pitiable, cuckolded Charles Bovary, should not be overlooked. Plus this movie shows us that Ellen Corby wasn't always old! Check her out as the Bovary's servant, Felicite.
  • comment
    • Author: Balhala
    I thought this movie was great and should be seen by all women and girls. I think it had a great message of how greed and envy can consume a person. I think that a lot of women suffer from this kind of wander lust. Jennifer Jones' Madame Bovary reminds me of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind. Both women wanting what they can't have and not appreciating the men who truly love them or their beautiful little girls. This movie also teaches the evils of over extending oneself on credit! Van Heflins portrayal of Dr. Bovary is a little weak but then so was the character, so maybe he didn't do so bad. I loved the costumes in Madame Bovary. Call me an old fashioned girl but I just loved this movie and the old fashioned message.
  • comment
    • Author: Windbearer
    Films of great novels are usually light years away in terms of quality from their originals. There are of course a few exceptions, the David Lean Dickens adaptations for instance and recently a Neil Jordan version of Graham Greene's "The End of the Affair" that I much admired. Generally it is second rate literature, "Gone WIth the Wind" a prime example, that fares so much better. Flaubert's "Madame Bovary" has continued through the history and development of cinema and TV to exert its fascination on would-be translators, although it has to be admitted that it has generally proved elusive. One would have thought that it would have fared particularly well in the hands of outstanding French directors such as Renoir and Chabrol but their efforts to come to grips with Flaubert's masterpiece have ultimately to be judged as among their lesser works. There is quite a lot going for Jean Renoir's early 1933 version, not least the authentic Normandy exteriors shot with great affection, but technically the film shows its age. It is rather like a series of tableaux, some in themselves quite well done, but ultimately lacking a strong narrative thrust and sense of cohesion. Nevertheless I remember being more impressed with it than with Claude Chabrol's 1991 version which I found surprisingly cold and passionless. I admit I have only seen this once and my memory of it is far from clear, perhaps because it grabbed me so little at the time. It may seem rather preposterous to award the accolade for the best "Bovary" to Vincente Minnelli's Americanised 1949 MGM version with its studio mock-up of a French village that seems more of a Flanders lookalike and some location work clearly done in Californian woodland, but, in the absence of so little competition, I would have to plump for it as being certainly the most enjoyable. After all it has that quite exquisite beauty, Jennifer Jones, as the eponymous heroine, suffering and eventually dying as tenderly as only she can. My favourite memory from the film is her first appearance on the farm where Doctor Bovary is calling to tend to her sick father. There she is in a setting of all too believable rural squalor decked out in the most unbelievably opulent dress imaginable. If nothing else it makes Bovary's initial besottedness with her absolutely credible. Minnelli's is a rather sanitised adaptation. Okay to have the heroine die beautifully once the initial agony of taking poison has been established, but the inevitable outcome of a botched operation on a villager's clubfoot - amputation - is, unlike in the novel and other versions, evaded by the doctor's refusal to take on the medical challenge. It makes for rather more comfortable box-office. There are some beautifully done scenes including the almost obligatory inclusion in a Hollywood period piece of a ballroom sequence. The one here has the hedonistic movement that is everything we had come to expect from "The Great Waltz" onwards. There is also the heroine's wait, her bags fully packed in a windswept street after dark for the lover that never comes. Wyler did it rather better in "The Heiress" but Minnelli's has plenty of atmosphere. His version may be even further than its competitors from Flaubert's "Madame Bovary" but he invests it with enough passion and commitment to ensure it a small place in Hollywood history.
  • comment
    • Author: Fenrikree
    Though I'm sure that the various French dramatizations of Madame Bovary are probably superior to this film, this English language version that MGM did in 1949 is as good as any we would have gotten from Hollywood. of that era. Jennifer Jones, Van Heflin, Louis Jourdan, and James Mason were unfortunately hampered by the Code in this version.

    MGM's version incorporates the author right into his story. James Mason plays Gustave Flaubert and the film opens with him on trial for authoring indecent material as the French censors of the day saw Madame Bovary. While on the witness stand defending his work, he tells the story of his creation Emma Bovary, a girl with silly romantic notions who brings tragedy all around because of them.

    Jennifer Jones is Emma and imagine Bernadette Soubirous who instead of having a divine experience has the misfortune to have other things peak her interest as an adolescent. She reads a whole lot of romantic novels who give her exaggerated notions about the nature of love.

    She lives in a pretty dull town in Normandy which was also where Flaubert himself hailed from and which he satirizes in acid in this work. She marries solid, dependable Van Heflin who's a doctor and who she hopes will give her a better life.

    It's in Heflin's character that the Code watered down what Flaubert was trying to say. Here he's an upright guy, a lot on the dull side, but dependable. In the novel he's as much desiring of social climbing as Jones is. In fact in the film he refuses to perform an operation that might gain him fame and success because he knows he's not qualified to do it. In the novel he does the operation and it ends in disaster all around.

    Jones takes lovers Louis Jourdan and Alf Kjellin and runs up bills that put Heflin into financial disaster. All the while refusing to face the truth about life and herself.

    Given the Code restrictions director Vincente Minnelli does as best as he can with his cast. James Mason makes a brilliant and erudite Flaubert on the stand. But considering he was on trial for indecency by not showing the alleged indecency to the fullest the Code defeated what could have been a classic.
  • comment
    • Author: Hudora
    Madame Bovary is directed by Vincente Minnelli and adapted to screenplay by Robert Ardrey from the Gustave Flaubert novel. It stars Jennifer Jones, Van Heflin, Louis Jourdan, Alf Kjellin, Gene Lockhart and James Mason. Music is by Miklós Rózsa and cinematography by Robert H. Planck.

    It's most interesting now watching Minnelli's picture and being able to place it in the time it was made. Also of major interest is reading up on what the critics of the time had to say about it. This version is an undoubted lesson in the technical crafts of film making, the visuals, the sound, art design, costuming and a literary pumped screenplay that allows the cast to play it classical. It's also black hearted, perfectly in keeping with the gathering storm of the era that was film noir.

    Here is the monster.

    Some of the complaints about the film, to me anyway, just don't add up. Why do we need to care about anyone in this story? It's a dark tale of illicit passions, greed, betrayals, bad parenting and etc. Is this frowned upon in some circles because of love for the classic novel? Or because there's some esteem held for other versions? The criticism of Jones is also very suspect given it's a classic femme fatale performance, Emma is cold and driven and shallow to others feelings, Jones works it perfectly.

    As Rózsa's beautiful lush and poignant musical arrangements drift and hover over the various story instalments, Minnelli brings the film making guile. His camera work is sublime, like a ghost moving about the characters for the more vibrant scenes, tracking and roving, dizzyingly beautiful. At others it's close and personal, imbuing Emma's claustrophobia, with the black and white contrasts superbly photographed by Planck.

    So it doesn't capture the essence of Flaubert's intent, then? Emma Bovary a figure of hate instead of sympathy, the lack of a caustic aside on a society of double standards? So what! Outstanding film making is just that, especially when it can tune into a style of film making prevalent at its birth. Madame Bovary - maybe the most film noir movie not actually considered a film noir. Brilliant. 9/10
  • comment
    • Author: Ieregr
    I am surprised and a little disappointed that this film is overlooked when discussing the best films of director Vincente Minnelli. Even he seemed to disregard it--he gave it very little time in any interview he gave. Yet when watching "Madame Bovary", the film is stunningly, and it seems, lovingly, directed by Metro's master. Every scene is beautifully crafted, and the highlight of course is the ballroom sequence, which seems to be the only part of the film ever thought highly of. All the way through the camera movement, design, pacing, the understanding of the complexities of Emma Bovary's situation are perfect. Even without the performances of the cast all this would make it very, very admirable. Add to that Jennifer Jones' excellent performance in the tile role, alternately child-like and passionate, giddy and neurotic, and you have a great film. Jourdan is also fine as Emma's dream lover, and the criticisms of Heflin's performance as stiff and boring are unjust. He is very subtle, and plays it well. I never thought I would say this, because I'm crazy about the guy, but Mason's intro and concluding trial scenes as author Gustave Flaubert just don't gel with the rest of the film. Mason gives his usual intelligence and consideration to the role, but somehow his voice-over doesn't work? I still liked the Flaubert scenes though, incorporating the author. Minnelli's film stands tall to Flaubert's novel, and it's a wonderful adaptation.
  • comment
    • Author: Fawrindhga
    Although it is several years since I saw it I can remember the beautiful photography and period setting of this not very happy story of a tormented woman.Particularly Jennifer Jones,a vastly underrated actress giving a sensitive performance which one imagined could have done with a bit more directoral guidance. Minnelli was one of those directors who seemed to give all or nothing to his projects.By his own admission he had very little interest in "Kismet" as he wanted to get it out of the way in order to start "Lust for Life" with Kirk Douglas.The lumbering manner of "Kismet" shows this to be true !! (he owed MGM one picture under his contract before starting "Lust for Life" and unfortunately for the project "Kismet" was it)Additionally Minelli did not want Jones in the lead role and one wonders how influencial David Selznick was in pushing for Jennifer once Lana Turner was unavailable for the lead.At any rate Lana had not yet developed her dramatic abilities which would lie some years ahead.Jennifer showed that she was adaptable to many moods including a few years later her scene stealing turn in "Beat the Devil" few actresses can take credit for stealing a picture away from Bogie,Peter Lorre,Robert Morley and LaLolla. Back to Madame Bovary,although the subject is a heavy one,it is well handled by Minnelli,and most reference books today regard it as a sadly neglected piece,which deserves a wider recognition.Interestingly if my memory serves me correctly Vincente barely mentions it in his autobiography.Maybe his private life at the time and his more financially successful works figure more prominantly in his memory.If I had directed Madame Bovary I would be immensly proud of it.Maybe he was.
  • comment
    • Author: Halloween
    In 1857 Paris, author Gustave Flaubert is on trial for immorality after publishing his scandalous book "Madame Bovary"; his defense is to tell the court and the spectators the story of a French farm lass who married a village doctor of limited talents and personality. With designs on infiltrating high society--despite the fact her husband is viewed as an obscure medic to the working classes--the woman takes lovers and spends money lavishly, selfishly grasping at popularity and acceptance. According to the film, Flaubert's writings were not considered challenging to 19th century France--only shocking and vulgar. But director Vincente Minnelli doesn't wish to get his hands dirty, and his visualization of the tale is just high-flown soap for female audiences. As Emma Bovary, Jennifer Jones runs the gamut on suffering; indeed, some of her hysterics show a talented actress at work, but her elaborate wardrobe upstages her. Jones marries Van Heflin, who warns her that he isn't a very exciting person, and soon thereafter is staring out the window, tossing off jaded, quasi-literary thoughts such as "Do you know why the clock strikes? To announce the death of another hour!" The picture would be a howler if it didn't take itself so contemptuously serious. The results are coated with a glum, gummy gloss, while James Mason (as Flaubert the Narrator) poses on the witness stand as if his portrait were being painted. ** from ****
  • comment
    • Author: Kea
    This movie is great! Jennifer looks beautiful, and her acting skills are wonderful! I also love the performances by Louis Jourdon and Van Heflin. But what I think adds the perfect touch is the opening court scene with James Mason as the author. Flaubert was really put on trial for his "immoral" book, and I think it's great how they have him narrating this story, as he was trying to prove his innocence. "Madame Bovary" is a must see!

    Rating: 10/10
  • comment
    • Author: Sennnel
    Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary is beautiful and shocking, one of the European literary greats. While it is not the most faithful adaptation around, Vincente Minnelli's Madame Bovary does stand on its own two feet and is a beautiful film in its own right. It does suffer from what made the book so complex and shocking not being fully allowed to come out due to the limitations of the Production Code at the time of it being made and released(maybe the film's length too). So you do miss the stuffiness and hypocrisy of French provincial life, which I always took as a crucial part to Emma's character, while the script could have done with more of a dark edge and Minnelli's direction is often dazzling and technically skilled(the ballroom sequence has to be a highlight in his directorial career) but also a little too relaxed in places, so the drama has occasional stodginess. But it is unfair to dismiss Madame Bovary due to these because its positives are a great many. That it is one of the most visually beautiful films of the 40s is one, the costumes are evocative and astonishingly elegant, Emma's dresses are a wow factor while the sets are the very meaning of grand with a Baroque/Roccocco influence. The photography dazzles just as much as Minnelli's technical style in the ballroom sequence(an intricate and in all senses wonderful scene, perhaps one of the greats in cinematic history). Miklos Rosza's music score is another huge part of the appeal, one of his best, the stylistic elegance, haunting undercurrent and energy are all here in the score, the Madame Bovary Waltz being the most memorable.

    The script may lack edge, but it does maintain the book's ironic humour and is very poignant too without descending into melodrama, and the story regardless of the watering down still compels and moves. Some may find Flaubert's narration and trial at the beginning unnecessary, to me it was actually very interesting- James Mason's thoughtfully earnest performance as Flaubert helps- and that the book itself caused a scandal at the time and is still controversial now made it further easier to understand why the book's depth doesn't quite come through here. The aforementioned ballroom sequence is the highlight of the film, but the deserted windswept streets in the middle of the night scene where Emma is waiting for Rudolphe is beautifully shot and emotionally telling. The performances are fine, Jennifer Jones is very moving(not to mention stunning to look at), she does capture the selfishness and insufferable woman traits that Emma has yet makes it clear Emma is also a victim of her own passions, it is very easy to not stand Emma and make her one-dimensional but with Jones there is a degree of compassion. Van Heflin is sympathetic and mild-mannered without being too much of a bore and oafish without being too much of a dork and clown, like with Jones both of those are easy traps to fall into. Louis Jourdan is perfectly cast, suave and charismatic while conflicted and menacing. Alf Kjellin is a gentle Leon, a good contrast to Jourdan's Rudolphe, while Gladys Cooper as ever is a scene stealer as is Frank Allenby as the malefic L'Hereux. Harry Morgan and Gene Lockhart are dependably solid. Overall, a beautiful film but those wanting a faithful adaptation of Madame Bovary(a big ask really as it is perhaps one of the most difficult books to adapt) may want to look elsewhere. But even then, there will be people who think that to some extent but still take this film for what it is. 8/10 Bethany Cox
  • comment
    • Author: Grillador
    "What you try and create," the director Vincente Minnelli once said, "is a little magic". Like Madame Bovary, Minnelli's crime, if he had one, was wanting things to be beautiful. Producer Pandro S. Berman knew what he was doing when he hired Minnelli to shoot this adaptation of Gustave Flaubert's classic novel. Classic-era Hollywood was saturated with stories of apparently selfish women who ruin the men in their life, but Madame Bovary differs in that it gets us to understand and sympathise with its tragic heroine, even drawing parallels to our own desire for escapism through literature or cinema. And in the 1940s few pictures were as escapist as those of Minnelli.

    When you look at a Minnelli picture, his visual style is all about framing and defining beauty, be it Judy Garland singing at her window, a spectacular Ziegfeld stage set or recreations of fin-de-siecle artworks. For him, exquisite imagery was not simply a gloss – it was an aesthetic ideal that was at the heart of cinema. Yet for this picture, he frames beauty within the dreariness of reality, for example showing Jennifer Jones gazing out of the window of her dingy attic room on a glorious summer's day. But what is significant is that no matter how desperate the circumstances get, no matter how dark or cramped the interiors become, Jones is always magnificently dressed, and there is always somewhere a window onto a better world. In other words, he doesn't allow us to lose respect for the character or her romantic idealism. The real world may let us down, Minnelli seems to be saying, but he won't allow the concept of beauty itself to be dragged through the mud.

    The trouble with this version of Madame Bovary – and this is something common to many book-to-film adaptations – is that it is extremely bitty and repetitive. Novels are after all intended to be picked up and put down, whereas motion pictures must be swallowed in a sitting. Minnelli's flowing style may be designed to keep the audience constantly engaged on a visual level, but story-wise it is less likely to hold our interest. The acting performances are not exceptional – at least not by the standards of Jones and Heflin, and in any case we are not really able to focus on them within Minnelli's technical sweep.

    What we have here then is an adaptation that fails to assemble coherently the bones of the plot, but captures the essence of Flaubert's work and exhorts us to sympathise with the protagonist. The picture opens with a historical scene in which the author, played by James Mason, defends his creation by defending its heroine. This introduction as much as states that it is not enough to read what Emma did; we must understand why she did it. In this respect, Minnelli's Madame Bovary is a success on its own terms.
  • comment
    • Author: Kagrel
    Vincente Minelli's Madame Bovary does whatever a studio film can do, of the period, to make a book like Flaubert's into a more than competent production. And it does work out for Minelli as one of his better films that his Madame Bovary is a tale that tries to get us to understand, though likely not to sympathize, with its (anti) heroine who cheats on her loving husband and sells out his home from under his nose, only to do himself in in the end. It's pretty bleak stuff, but there's an air of exhilaration to it, like a fresh Lifetime TV movie that hasn't yet been over-dampened with the conventions that plague it, and has a grace and daring to it as well. It might strike some as a little much that Minelli book-ends the picture with the trial of Flaubert as it should have nothing to do with the story itself. But, there is that attempt, that try at getting the readers of its time to get a grasp on disillusionment in marriage, which is something that is instantly recognizable, and to make compelling literature and to never have it silenced. It's even adiramble in post WW2 America to make a point via a French novel how marriages can go wrong. That's not all there is, of course, as countless English classes have taught us with the book.

    It goes without saying the book is far richer and with more emotional depth in the descriptions that go into Flaubert's writing. But it should be said that Jennifer Jones is also the best Bovary that has yet been brought to the screen, a woman who is very, very hard to like at all for what she does, particularly to an everyman. Albeit, arguably, a very plain and average guy like her husband doctor who doesn't want anything more than to do his duty and go through the daily grind. Jones makes her in a small way sympathetic, something to her presence has her poised as a tragic figure, hard to pinpoint but not easy to grasp either. You want to hate her as the film rolls along through its second half, as she becomes more desperate and more and more indebted to a world of men who have come to hate her too. But her desperation, in a way, makes her all the more human, less entranced by the ultimately foolish ideals of her storybook romances and grounded to a halt with reality.

    Flaubert doesn't give us the easy route of making it a statement of blame- which might set it apart from what would be a "Lifetime" movie of the present. Jones is terrific in the part, wavering between being a bad mother (the baby always cries in her presence), a neflectful wife (when is she home?), and a sour of a mistress (keeps that Italian waiting for years, what the hell?) And it's pulled off quite nicely from her. Credit where it's due to to Minelli, who constructs that ballroom sequence that spins and spins like the perpetual loop from that superimposed shot from Shadow of a Doubt; it's one of his true virtuoso sequences, a high-wire act done all for the sake of enlivening and critically molding the mood of Emma Bovary, a woman who can be taken away by the exuberance of escapism, ignorant of what she's really getting into in the midst of a plastic sort of world. There's a lot to be read into the source itself (just see the arguments thrown around in the book club scene in Little Children). The movie, however, is an exquisite time capsule where it's given an intro like with a new book edition, but with its own space and freedom to succeed on its own terms.
  • comment
    • Author: Legionstatic
    Hollywood's record on film adaptations of classic literature is fairly respectable, keeping in mind the ever present eye on the box office. What pleased me most about this 1949 version of "Madame Bovary" is in fact its modesty. This probably has more to do with budget constraints than anything, but there is something small scale and decidedly unpretentious about it. While Jennifer Jones and Van Heflin may not be quite B movie actors, they were secondary level stars. Jones did not have the classical beauty of many of her contemporaries, which is in keeping with Flaubert's description of Emma Bovary, and Heflin's lack of charisma certainly suits Charles Bovary well.

    Jones' performance is fairly good, with only occasional lapses into excessive Hollywood emoting. Despite Selznick's grooming she never quite became the star he intended for her. (Her best performance remains in the surprisingly comic role of Lubitch's "Cluny Brown"). All in all she captures much of Emma's desperation, but there is a distinct lacking in depth.

    Heflin has the easier role and pulls it off well. Although this version sticks closely to the novel, one small change does however alter things significantly. Charles Bovary was clearly what we would call a "loser". Emma comes to this realization early on. She encourages him to perform an innovative operation to cure a young man's club foot, hoping this act will finally win him fame and status. In the novel, Charles remains unaware of his obvious limitations. Not only is he a loser, his has little understanding of himself, and his professional abilities. He botches the operation, which further drives Emma apart. While this isn't meant to justify Emma's behaviour in the eyes of the reader, it certainly helps to explain her basic rejection of her husband. In the film however, at the very second he is about to perform the operation, Bovary realizes that it in fact a bad idea and stops the proceedings. He is thus endowed with qualities that Flaubert did not intend.

    Minnelli plays it safe. As can be expected his direction is solid and professional. As many have pointed out the ballroom scene is handled superbly. However, ultimately the film does not leave a lasting impression, despite its well intentioned and well executed efforts.
  • comment
    • Author: Na
    I could never like Gustave Flaubert for his merciless realism completely void of any idealism, but as a realist he was one of the sharpest in France, wherefore a novel like "Madame Bovary" is perhaps best seen as a clinical and perfect documentary. As Gustave Flaubert said himself, there are thousands of Emma Bovarys all over France. At the same time, he confessed Emma Bovary to be himself. Here is a paradox and mystery worth investigating.

    Jennifer Jones as Emma, even better than Vivien Leigh as Anna Karenina, is the extreme opposite of Bernadette of Lourdes 6 years earlier, for which she was awarded an Oscar. Jennifer as Emma is the extreme idealist who lives only for her dreams and commits the mistake of trying to make reality her dreams. This is a very human and common mistake. Gustave Flaubert's own tragedy was perhaps that he could not indulge in committing that mistake himself. Instead, he indulged the more in giving Emma free reins to go to any length in that indulgence, in which he is very thorough in tearing her apart piece by piece. Is this cruelty or realism? It is perhaps cruelty excused by realism, but it's definitely realism and unassailable as such.

    Van Heflin is reliably honest in his part as usual and makes a thoroughly impeccable impersonation of a perfectly normal and honestly boring man. As in the novel, he is impossible not to put horns on. He is too honest for his own good.

    Her case starts when she gradually more and more find her ideals incompatible with the reality she is confined to and finds more and more like a prison. Her only cure is escapism into her dreams, trying obsessively to drown the unbearable pettiness of her naked reality in luxury - and the first lover, the handsome Leon, played by the handsome Swede Alf Kjellin, perfect for that part, like almost another Axel von Fersen.

    To all this comes Vincente Minnelli's amazing direction. He had almost only made show films before, and here suddenly he is as psychologically brilliant and poignant as another Hitchcock. The great ball scene, when she first meets Louis Jourdan, is Vincente Minnelli in full bloom combining splendid festivity with dark undercurrents of impending tragedy, impressively illustrated by the crushing of windows and glasses, as poor Van Heflin, drunk, searches for his wife, as if he unconsciously already knew he had lost her....

    The music (Miklos Rosza) is also perfect as everything else in this film, Frank Allenby is terrible in his handsome ruthlessness as her creditor, and Gladys Cooper comes sailing in as the perfect mother spoiling everything, almost compelling Emma to adultery by her puritan insistence, and then comes Louis Jourdan opening the abyss with his insolent superiority...

    James Mason introduces and ends the film as Gustave Flaubert himself, defending himself and Emma at court, with as eloquent a brilliance as everything else in this film. You certainly should see it again sometime.
  • comment
    • Author: Macage
    It is an undeniable fact that French writer Gustave Flaubert's classic "Madame Bovary" is very much a French work of art.This is the reason why acclaimed French directors Jean Renoir and Claude Chabrol have filmed their own versions of this classic tale which not only focuses on adultery but also gives a very vivid and accurate description of peasant life during eighteenth century France.However, American director Vincente Minelli's version is very much different from these Gallic versions as it is quite down to earth with an elusive American touch to it.This is something which makes it very much universal in its appeal and reach.It is really pure joy to see acclaimed American actors Ms. Jennifer Jones and Mr.Van Heflin playing their main roles as Emma Bovary and Charles Bovary.However,James Mason can be touted as this film's absolute real star for his marvelous performance as French writer Gustave Flaubert.It is he who carries the film on his shoulders by making viewers empathize with Emma Bovary's hapless plight.He is one of the primary keys to suggest that his work "Madame Bovary" is a work of our modern times to know how one should view male/female relationships especially relationships which are the cornerstone of all married people's relationships.
  • comment
    • Author: Fordrellador
    It is an undeniable fact that French writer Gustave Flaubert's classic "Madame Bovary" is very much a French work of art.This is the reason why acclaimed French directors Jean Renoir and Claude Chabrol have filmed their own versions of this classic tale which not only focuses on adultery but also gives a very vivid and accurate description of peasant life during eighteenth century France.However, American director Vincente Minelli's version is very much different from these Gallic versions as it is quite down to earth with an elusive American touch to it.This is something which makes it very much universal in its appeal and reach.It is really pure joy to see acclaimed American actors Ms. Jennifer Jones and Mr.Van Heflin playing their main roles as Emma Bovary and Charles Bovary.However,James Mason can be touted as this film's absolute real star for his marvelous performance as French writer Gustave Flaubert.It is he who carries the film on his shoulders by making viewers empathize with Emma Bovary's hapless plight.He is one of the primary keys to suggest that his work "Madame Bovary" is a work of our modern times to know how one should view male/female relationships especially relationships which are the cornerstone of all married people's relationships.
  • comment
    • Author: Lbe
    Carl Jung, the Swiss psychologist, posited four types of personalities: the sensation type, the feeling type, the thinking type, and the intuitive type. Now, your typical sensation type (lecturer points to portrait of Madame Bovary) lives for the moment, switches allegiances on impulse, luxuriates in the indulgence of her sensory apparatus, cannot be depended upon, and is insensitive to the feelings of others except as they affect her. We may forgive a sensation type, but are we really supposed to like her? Says who? That's kind of how I felt about this story. I'd heard as a youngster that this was supposed to be a sexy novel. It was known as "Madame Ovary." So I struggled through it but it seemed boring. Maybe in French there were grace notes in the prose, absent from the English translation. But I really don't know how anything could have saved this from being a weeper.

    The viewer gets the general idea quickly enough because the narrator, James Mason, gives it to us right off the bat. The young, poor Emma Bovary (Jennifer Jones)is suffering an acute case of "Bovarism." She lives in a world of romantic fantasy, a kind of Ruritania of the mind, with dashing knights and love in Swiss chalets. Her walls are plastered with illustrations from fairy tales. And she never outgrows this world of make-believe.

    She doesn't have enough insight to know that marrying the devoted but dull village doctor (Van Heflin, in a good, bumbling performance)is not the answer. She attributes her dissatisfaction to her need for a child, a boy. She eventually has her child, but it's a girl and the girl rejects her in favor of her husband and her housekeeper.

    And who wouldn't reject Emma? Half the time she's hysterical, and the other half she's about to become hysterical. Anyway, the next thing you know, Emma has taken up with the local clerk and, when he's booted over to Rouen by his domineering mother, she takes up with the handsome, dashing, narcissistic, rich Rodolphe Boulanger (Louis Jordan). She decorates poor Doctor Bovary's house in expensive fabrics and furniture, borrowing secretly from a stone-faced usurer who will in the end bring her and her family down by selling the notes, which means bankruptcy for the Bovarys. She throws herself at the feet of an erstwhile lover and begs for money. "I haven't got it," he says, and throws her out. In an excess of self-pity (I didn't notice much in the way of guilt) she eats some arsenic and is called away to answer to a higher collection agency.

    The movie has one or two neat set pieces, directed by Vincent Minelli. There's the scene at the first ball to which the Bovarys are invited, the ball at which Emma first dances with Rodolphe and the awkward, anxious husband gets drunk. I'm not much for balls. Everybody gets dressed up and dances in circles. "I don't know how to waltz," Emma tells Rodolphe. Well, Emma, neither does anyone else now. In a college class I was trying to get across the notion of dialectics and asked for a volunteer from the audience to help me demonstrate the waltz step. No volunteers because nobody knew how to waltz -- or what a waltz was, for that matter.

    Minelli sets up this ball, though, so that it's not nearly as boring as most. The guys are boozing it up, the women look gorgeous in their elaborate Walter Plunkett gowns, and when one of the ladies feels dizzy from dancing, the host orders attendants to bash out the windows. There is also a wild wedding scene that might have come from Pieter Bruegel or maybe Sam Pekinpah's "Ride the High Country."

    Jennifer Jones is Emma with a breathless lisp. Van Heflin is nearly perfect as the humble, inarticulate doctor. (Doctors in the 1850s weren't as high in the status-sphere as they are today. If they had been, Emma would have been not only foolish to betray her husband but downright loco.) This role must have stereotyped Louis Jordan because he seemed to play little but the same pavonine French lover in film after film.

    However, although I may not have gotten very much out of it, others might. I haven't looked at the user's ratings but I'd be mildly surprised if women didn't give it a higher score than men. Sensation types of either gender are likely to switch channels before it's over.
  • comment
    • Author: Whitestone
    I have to give MADAME BOVARY a mixed review.

    It's interesting to note that a film based on a French classic had only one Oscar nomination in a technical category--none for the direction or performances. That's probably because despite all the painstaking care that went into this version of MADAME BOVARY, it seems to make a surface connection with the viewer.

    JENNIFER JONES has the role of a woman even more selfish than Scarlett O'Hara--dazzled by her own romantic illusions to the point where she has lost all connection with reality. She has a faithful husband (VAN HEFLIN) whom she treats with contempt or totally ignores in favor of more interesting prospects--and almost finds one in LOUIS JOURDAN, once again playing a Frenchman who abandons his sweetheart when he realizes she will make too many demands on him.

    Vincente Minnelli has directed the whole affair with a rather sluggish pace, relieved occasionally by well-staged scenes such as the ballroom moment where the music of Miklos Rozsa reaches a crescendo of emotion amid whirling camera movements. It's a great moment but unfortunately most of the film's remaining scenes seem to pale by comparison with that stunning triumph of music and photography.

    JENNIFER JONES is unable to make her Madame Bovary appear anything more than vain and foolish and, as usual, there's something alienating about her personality--which should have suited the role but keeps her from becoming the victim she's supposed to be.

    The JAMES MASON courtroom prologue with the actor as Flaubert seems to be operating from a different film and doesn't blend well into the actual story. Perhaps a different approach would have worked better.

    Still, this is a better than average melodrama of a woman scorned who turns out to be her own worst enemy. While all the performances around her are more than adequate, none of them really stand out the way they should in an adaptation of a classic story.

    Fans of Jones, Jourdan or Heflin will no doubt find the film fascinating despite its flaws and the Miklos Rozsa score is worth hearing for the ballroom sequence alone.
  • Cast overview, first billed only:
    Jennifer Jones Jennifer Jones - Emma Bovary
    James Mason James Mason - Gustave Flaubert
    Van Heflin Van Heflin - Charles Bovary
    Louis Jourdan Louis Jourdan - Rodolphe Boulanger
    Alf Kjellin Alf Kjellin - Leon Dupuis (as Christopher Kent)
    Gene Lockhart Gene Lockhart - J. Homais
    Frank Allenby Frank Allenby - Lhereux
    Gladys Cooper Gladys Cooper - Mme. Dupuis
    John Abbott John Abbott - Mayor Tuvache
    Harry Morgan Harry Morgan - Hyppolite (as Henry Morgan)
    George Zucco George Zucco - DuBocage
    Ellen Corby Ellen Corby - Félicité
    Eduard Franz Eduard Franz - Roualt
    Henri Letondal Henri Letondal - Guillaumin
    Esther Somers Esther Somers - Mme. Lefrancois
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