|MADAME X (director: Sam Wood; screenwriters: John Meehan/from the play by Alexandre Bisson; cinematographer: John Seitz; editor: Frank E. Hull; music: David Snell; cast: Gladys George (Jacqueline Fleuriot aka Mame X), Phillip Reed (Jean Rochin), Warren William (Bernard Fleuriot), John Beal (Raymond Fleuriot), Reginald Owen (Maurice Dourel), William Henry (Hugh Fariman, Jr.), Henry Daniell (Lerocle), Ruth Hussey (Annette), Lynne Carver (Helene), Luis Alberni (Scipio), George Zucco (Dr. La Farge); Runtime: 72; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: James Kevin McGuinness; MGM; 1937)|
|"This faithful version stars
stage and screen actress Gladys George, who
gives an effective performance."
by Dennis Schwartz
dated Alexandre Bisson's 1908 French play
of a mother's love and sacrifices, is a play
that has enough legs to over the years to be revised
at least seven times. There were 2 silent versions and
a talkie in 1929 before this decent but overwrought
glossy MGM version. In 1966 it was again revived, with
some success. This faithful version stars stage and
screen actress Gladys George, who gives an effective
performance, and is satisfactorily directed by Sam
Wood ("A Night At The Opera"/"Goodbye, Mr.
Chips"/"The Pride of the Yankees"). The soap opera
screenplay is by John Meehan.
Paris penthouse, the married Jacqueline
Fleuriot (Gladys George), to the renown
lawyer Bernard (Warren William), tells
her lover Jean Rochin (Phillip
Reed) she's breaking off the affair, but before
she leaves Jean's insanely jealous girl friend Annette
(Ruth Hussey) bursts in and kills
him. That same night Jaqueline's young son Raymond is
taken to the hospital ill and her hubby gives her the
boot for being unfaithful and prevents her from ever
seeing her son again. Rather than have hubby drag her
illicit affairs through the courts and tarnish her
family's name, she agrees to vanish. When the couple's
close friend Maurice Doural (Reginald
Owen) convinces her hubby to bring her back, he can't
find her. Jacqueline gets employment as a
maid. When she learns she's wanted for murder, she
meets the wealthy Hugh
Fariman, Jr. (William
Henry) and sails on his yacht to
America. In New York, she learns he's married and
she splits. Meeting with hardship in her travels to
New Orleans as a club singer, the unlucky woman
lands in South America. There she meets the slimy
cardsharp Lerocle (Henry Daniell),
and assists him in his card act. While drunk one
night she tells him her sordid secret. When he
blackmails her while they are back in France, she
plugs him and gets arrested for the murder.
the years Jacqueline's son
Raymond (John Beal) becomes a public defender and
gets engaged to the wealthy Helene (Lynne
Carver). Coincidentally Raymond is assigned to
be her lawyer, but Jacqueline
remains mum about her identity and reason for the
murder. When her former hubby recognizes her, she
convinces him to keep still. Meanwhile Raymond has
no inkling he's defending his long-lost mom since he
was told she died, but valiantly tries to defend a
woman he feels sympathetic to who won't tell him
even her name and offers no defense for her crime.
bad it turns to sentimental drivel in the courtroom
conclusion, replete with over-the-top histrionics.
Otherwise it's quite bearable as an old-fashioned
soap opera, with the talented cast taking it
seriously and giving strong performances.
REVIEWED ON 8/25/2014 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ