Arnold Boult is determined to make his son a success at all costs. He commits arson, causes two suicides, and bribes people. His wife, unable to leave him, becomes alcoholic and dies. His ... See full summary »
In nineteenth-century France, the romantic daughter of a country squire (Emma Rouault) marries a dull country doctor (Charles Bovary). To escape boredom, she throws herself into love ... See full summary »
Tom Lee is a sensitive boy of 17 whose lack of interest in the "manly" pursuits of sports, mountain climbing and girls labels him "sister-boy" at the college he is attending. Head master ... See full summary »
Amateur plumber Cluny Brown gets sent off by her uncle to work as a servant at an English country estate. While there, she becomes friendly with Adam Belinski, a charming Czech refugee. She... See full summary »
An airplane carrying three Brits--Major Crespin, his wife Lucille, and Dr. Trahern--crash lands in the kingdom of Rukh. The Rajah holds them prisoner because the British are about to ... See full 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. Written by
Daniel Bubbeo <email@example.com>
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. See more »
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.
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