The 1946 original, with Tyrone Power as the proto-hippie who resigns his North Shore upbringing in favor of wandering Europe and India in search of eternal wisdom; once he's attained it, he goes back to his upper-class friends and straightens out their hopelessly muddled lives. Somerset Maugham's novel is basically a revenge fantasy for intellectuals, with a heavy streak of misogyny focused on the figure of the hero's grasping, jealous, and eventually murderous fiancee, elements that come through just as unpleasantly here as in Bill Murray's 1984 remake. But director Edmund Goulding is able to check the more embarrassing excesses of the material, turning philosophical hokum into acceptable melodrama. Still, it's Gene Tierney's incarnation of the spurned fiancee that brings the picture to life; her transformation from wounded innocent to cold-blooded harpy is subtle, terrifying, and weirdly erotic. With John Payne, Anne Baxter, Clifton Webb, and Herbert Marshall.
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