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Madame Bovary (1949)

Passed | | Drama, Romance | 23 January 1950 (Sweden)
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.

Director:

Vincente Minnelli

Writers:

Robert Ardrey (screenplay), Gustave Flaubert (novel)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jennifer Jones ... Emma Bovary
James Mason ... Gustave Flaubert
Van Heflin ... Charles Bovary
Louis Jourdan ... Rodolphe Boulanger
Alf Kjellin ... Leon Dupuis (as Christopher Kent)
Gene Lockhart ... J. Homais
Frank Allenby Frank Allenby ... Lhereux
Gladys Cooper ... Mme. Dupuis
John Abbott ... Mayor Tuvache
Harry Morgan ... Hyppolite (as Henry Morgan)
George Zucco ... DuBocage
Ellen Corby ... Félicité
Eduard Franz ... Roualt
Henri Letondal Henri Letondal ... Guillaumin
Esther Somers Esther Somers ... Mme. Lefrancois
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Storyline

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 <dbubbeo@cmp.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

23 January 1950 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

Madame Bovary und ihre Liebhaber See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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. See more »

Quotes

Rodolphe Boulanger: I'm a fairly courageous man, Emma, but I was afraid of you.
Emma Bovary: No! Oh... oh, I ask for too much, I know it. I expected too much of you.
Rodolphe Boulanger: You asked for something that consumes while it burns - that destroys everything it touches. I didn't want to be destroyed.
See more »

Connections

Version of Madame Bovary (1991) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Masterful adaptation (if not entirely faithful)
30 April 2007 | by DAHLRUSSELLSee 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.


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