Synopsis by Hal Erickson
MGM circumvented the censorship that would otherwise have prevented a film version of Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary by adding a prologue and epilogue that assured any and all bluenoses that the story was strictly a work of fiction. James Mason appears as Flaubert, defending his inflammatory novel before a French jury. Thus, the tragedy of Emma Bovary (Jennifer Jones) is offered as a product of Flaubert's imagination, rather than a real-life story. The body of the film concerns Emma's attempt to escape the boredom of her bourgeois existence by marrying a doctor (Van Heflin). She finds life with the physician even more tiresome than her previous experiences, thus begins taking a series of wealthy lovers-all of whom prove to be two-dimensional cads. Unable to tolerate a lifetime of dead-end affairs, Emma eventually commits suicide. The best sequence-indeed, one of the finest set pieces ever directed by Vincente Minnelli-is the "Emma Bovary Waltz" sequence, a dazzling experience in dizzying camera movements.
bourgeois, jury, lover, marital-problems, woman, writer