I love the way he is still trying to play her at the end. Boyer manages something really great within that scene. I hate to say I love him in this movie, but I do. He rings a lot of changes before we finally see the real Sergius Bauer.
Boyer has been so coldly calculating throughout the whole movie, and then, he tries once again to rely on his cold tricks and empty charm. But there is something else - Boyer shows a pathetic animal quality when he is bound up... he would gnaw off his own leg to get away - so he could be with his lover, those maddening gems.
He is so blinded by those jewels - I mean, what man in their right mind would not want Ingrid over a few crummy jewels? We know he can't possibly get away with it twice, but....he....is so very persuasive, playing the pathetic victim, we aren't sure! And he's Charles Boyer! Can he possibly get her to cut him free?!!! There's a lot of doubt in our collective audience mind. How will he get out of this jam? Can he really be so evil as to expect his wife to forgive him? Does he really think she is so stupid and gullible? Is she?
Then she lets him have it and we think we see for the first time, the real man - Sergius Bauer - deluded, truly pathetic, as bound by his love to those jewels as she was bound by her weakness to him... and he is driven just as mad by those jewels as he wanted her to be. They are a fickle, cold hearted lover, those pale diamonds, dancing just beyond his grasp - with no thought of him at all. He was so close..... I think Boyer's brilliant, because we still don't see Sergius. He is so cold, like a diamond himself, one that cuts without a thought. He is shut down, hiding his true nature in the manners of a proper gentleman. Even as he pleads with Paula, he is acting.
And then, at the last moment of his capture, Boyer, incredibly, opens himself wide - his eyes open ecstatically as he talks to Joseph Cotten about how he has wanted those gems his whole life. He shows us the true gleam of love and madness in his eye, the reality of his whole existence in just one half a sentence -- then, just as quickly, he shuts the light in his eyes down, crushes it under a dull eyebrow, and we see the struggle to hide himself once more, to hide behind the cold stare of a methodical man.
I watched the earlier Anton Walbrook version the other night - it was brilliant in it's own way, but Boyer's version allows him complexities that are nowhere in the other film. I would much rather be tormented by Charles Boyer! Walbrook was just mean! Like a little Hitler. Although I think Diana Wynyard makes one realize how trapped a woman could be in a marriage back in that time period. However, in the long run, the 1940 one just makes me appreciate the 1944 version that much more.... I know there are those who hate the Cukor version, but I think it's great, and they spent time correcting any loopholes in the plot before they filmed the Boyer/Bergman version. They examined character rather than just making a standard mystery. This makes it a pretty perfect film in my book, with a really great performance by Boyer.
HA! I GOT THIS POST BACK! I am ecstatic. I knew I could never recreate it!