Young Raymond Floriot, following in his father Louis Floriot's professional footsteps, he now France's attorney general, has just passed the bar exam. Raymond's first case, appointed to him by the courts, is a murder case. His pitiful and poor Jane Doe client, who refers to herself only as Madame X, admits to killing the scoundrel of a man named Laroque, but won't disclose why or in turn defend herself in court. Raymond knows nothing of her past, which includes once being a woman of class, married to man of prestige. But that marriage ended because he treated her without love, which resulted in her leaving him for another man, who in turn passed away shortly thereafter. Her first marriage produced a son, who her husband refused to let her see. Her son never knew she was alive, he being told by his father that she died. The consequence of his action left Madame X on a downward path where she never found love. Now, in turn, she hopes her silence will protect the one that she really ... Written by
This thing's got whiskers, both leads better elsewhere.
I hesitate to add a note of dissonance to any of my beloved early talkies, but in this case it's most called for. Any contemporary viewer exploring ancient films may be swayed to try such a film with Oscar nominations and wide availability. Please don't. Early Oscars were voted on by studio heads only, and are no indication of popular support. Additionally, MGM and the WB studios' products so dominated the TV syndication market that most film buffs can't name any thing William Powell did before the Thin Man. [Mr. Powell had a career as a heavy even before he uttered his first word on screen.]
I found the material of the story to be that of old, turgid melodramatics. At the time M-G-M began making talkies, Louis B. Meyer and Irvin Thalberg actively sought to produce THEATRICAL productions on film, and therefore, this is not cinema. When Ruth Chatterton pauses at the door to tell Lewis Stone (almost moaning) to "tell our boy when he grows up that you (Stone) wouldn't let his mother see him one last time", talking pictures hit their lowest ebb. Outdoor scenes aren't recorded properly and at 95 minutes it's not hard to guess this is just a stage play on film.
I know I stand alone in my loathing. Variety, in 1929 said "Works like this...elevate the name of pictures, and tell the world there is an art in film making." MADAME X grossed over $1.2 million worldwide against a negative cost of $600,000. I say, works like this so dissuade modern viewers that hundreds of films lie in vaults rotting away. Please pass on this one.
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