The book is a classic, no doubt. Its most surely worth your reading time.
However the film is a stupendous mess.
The original film has a 4 star rating. From the 40's I believe. For whatever reason I've never got around to watching it, which is probably a good thing since I like to read the literary form of any story first.
Someone told me it's like Vanity Fair, but with a male lead. I haven't read Vanity Fair so I wouldn't know, but it's a great book.
I'm sure it was quite controversial back when it was published although it was apparently not very popular until much later. Whether due to cencorship or something else I do not know. I think any story about adultery (19 year old and a married woman with children) in the 19th century would be a touchy subject though. Provocative I'd say.