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Madame X (1929)

Passed | | Drama | 17 August 1929 (USA)
A young lawyer unknowingly defends his mother who abandoned him when he was three.

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Writers:

(from the play by), (dialogue)
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Jacqueline
...
Raymond
...
Noel
...
Rose
John P. Edington ...
Doctor
Mitchell Lewis ...
Colonel Hanby
Ullrich Haupt ...
Laroque (as Ullric Haupt)
...
Merivel
...
Perissard
Carroll Nye ...
Darrell
Claude King ...
Valmorin (as Claud King)
Chappell Dossett ...
Judge
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Storyline

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 Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Ruth Chatterton is truly superb. She reveals a histrionic ability which is extraordinary. Lionel Barrymore's direction is masterly. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

17 August 1929 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Absinthe  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Retitled "Absinthe", in order to avoid confusion with the 1937 version, this film was first telecast in San Francisco 5 June 1958 on KGO-TV (Channel 7). See more »

Connections

Version of A Woman Is the Judge (1939) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Watch it for the performances...
9 July 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

... and understand that if the photography seems static and uninspired it is because that at this point in early talking film the camera could not move. You had to cross cut between shots to get even the illusion of motion.

As for Ruth Chatterton and Lewis Stone, in my opinion these two never could give a bad performance and that is true here too. These two were pioneers in acting in the talkies and acquit themselves marvelously considering that actors were often directed to over-emote. Ruth Chatterton resists the common early talkie urge to chew scenery better than Stone, though, probably owing to the fact that until she was 35 she was a star of the stage and thus was familiar with handling dialogue. Stone had started acting in silent films, so in these early talking roles he was having to feel his way through it, although he quickly got the hang of it.

In this case the two play estranged couple Jacqueline and Louis Floriot. Unlike the other filmed versions of Madame X, this one starts several years after Jacqueline has abandoned her family and at a time of severe illness for her son. The man she left her husband for has died, and she asks for a fresh start with Louis, who still loves her, but rebuffs her anyway on account of his pride and turns her out into the street without even allowing her to see her son.

In this version there is no meddling mother-in-law thinking the wife is not good enough for her son. Instead it is Louis' coldness that apparently caused Jacqueline to look for affection elsewhere. The vast majority of the film belongs to Chatterton as we see her go from man to man and fall deeper into alcoholism and despair. The makeup job was quite good on this film too as we see Chatterton transform from a woman with delicate China doll features to a bloated used-up alcoholic that not even her ex-husband recognizes when she goes on trial for her life in a courtroom where he presides as judge. Raymond Hackett is excellent as Jacqueline's grown son who feels real compassion for this woman that he does not know is his mother when he is assigned to defend her.


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