Madame Bovary (1949)

Passed  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  23 January 1950 (Sweden)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 1,732 users  
Reviews: 33 user | 15 critic

A provincial doctor's wife's romantic illusions about life and social status lead her to betray her naive husband, take on lovers and run up ruinous debts.



(screenplay), (novel)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Alf Kjellin ...
Leon Dupuis (as Christopher Kent)
Frank Allenby ...
Mayor Tuvache
Hyppolite (as Henry Morgan)
George Zucco ...
Henri Letondal ...
Esther Somers ...


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Whatever it is that French women have ... Madame Bovary had more of it! See more »


Drama | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

23 January 1950 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

Madame Bovary und ihre Liebhaber  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


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 »


Lheureux: I am in the business of making money, I leave the matter of morals to the priests and the philosophers.
See more »


Referenced in Histoire(s) du cinéma: Une histoire seule (1989) See more »

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User Reviews

Masterful adaptation (if not entirely faithful)
30 April 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

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.

22 of 29 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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What a supremely selfish woman!!!! SusanJL
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Emma Bovary's ball gown boudica10
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