7.1/10
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38 user 16 critic

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:

M-G-M's Great Emotional Drama 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

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. See more »

Quotes

Emma Bovary: Is it a crime to want things to be beautiful?
See more »

Connections

Featured in Private Screenings: Liza Minnelli (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Do you know, Charles, why that clock strikes? To announce the death of another hour.
12 July 2015 | by SpikeopathSee all my reviews

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


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