I've just been rewatching this with my daughter. It's an example of a film that does justice to its book. No, it exceeds that. The film's structure is leaner than Maugham's book. You know, less 'novelistic' and more 'cinematic'. In this case, the heightened drama helps contrast the high-societal nature of Paris/Chicago with proletarian life (anywhere) and spiritual life (Indian Himalayas and inside).
It was sheer chance, at age 16, that I turned on a very early a.m. broadcast channel in Los Angeles and saw this for the first time. Actually, it had begun already, and I saw very soon the 'sunrise scene' which serves as an objective correlative for Larry Darrell's (Tyrone Power's) enlightenment. I started 'seeking' from that point.
Maybe this is what 'critical theorists' mean when they urge us to ferret out contradictions: the irony that Hollywood 'sells' the repudiation of material acquisition.
I bought the message.
Wonderful performances by Ty Power (catch him reading Keats!), Gene Tierney, classic Clifton Webb, great voice-overs by one of the greatest film voices, Herbert Marshall (as Maughm), and young Anne Baxter as the lost Sophie. Post WWII 'dark' recuperation at its best.
They should convert this to DVD.