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The Sin of Madelon Claudet (1931)

Passed  -  Drama  -  24 October 1931 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 472 users  
Reviews: 14 user | 6 critic

Out of jail for a crime she did not commit, Madelon turns to prostitution and thievery to send her illegitimate son to medical school.



(play), (dialogue continuity), 1 more credit »
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Title: The Sin of Madelon Claudet (1931)

The Sin of Madelon Claudet (1931) on IMDb 6.8/10

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins. See more awards »


Complete credited cast:
Lewis Stone ...
Rosalie Lebeau
Dr. Lawrence Claudet
Karen Morley ...
Alice Claudet
Charles Winninger ...
M. Novella - Photographer
Halliwell Hobbes ...
Roget - Boretti's Butler
Lennox Pawle ...
Felix St. Jacques
Russ Powell ...
Monsieur Claudet


French country girl Madelon falls for artist Larry, who leaves her after she becomes pregnant. She finds help from jewel thief Carlo, but he commits suicide when the police try to arrest him. Madelon is arrested and receives a ten year term in prison for assisting him in his profession. To support her son, who does not know that she's been in prison, she becomes a street walker, allowing him to attend medical school. Written by Stephan Eichenberg <>

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Release Date:

24 October 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Sin of Madelon Claudet  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Edward Knoblock's play opened on Broadway in New York City, New York, USA on 17 September 1923 and closed in January 1924 after 144 performances. The opening night cast included May Robson, Rose Hobart, Frank Morgan, Leonard Mudie and Charles Trowbridge. See more »


Madelon Claudet: You know, it's the queerest thing. When I was a little girl, Father Matthew used to say to us children, "You pay for everything - everything in this life." And last night when we were dancing, I thought of him, and I laughed to myself and said, "What an old fool you are, Father Matthew..." But he was right. And I'm paying.
See more »


Featured in MGM: When the Lion Roars (1992) See more »


Il était une bergère (There Was a Shepherdess)
Traditional French children's song
Sung a cappella by an unidentified drunk who picks up Madelon
See more »

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User Reviews

THE SIN OF MADELON CLAUDET (Edgar Selwyn, 1931) **1/2
7 February 2014 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

This MADAME X-type melodrama constitutes a record in Oscar history, in that it marks the longest period between wins for any person: Best Actress recipient Helen Hayes would be bestowed her second statuette, a Best Supporting Actress one for AIRPORT, 38 years later! Incidentally, this being an MGM picture, it becomes evident from checking the honoured actors during the first dozen ceremonies (till the end of the decade) that the studio made good its famous logo "more stars than there are in heaven" by copping as many as 12 Academy Awards!

That said, the title under review itself is hardly highly-regarded – though it is reasonably stylish and well-served by a surprisingly strong cast (in alphabetical order: Alan Hale, Neil Hamilton, Jean Hersholt, Karen Morley, Lewis Stone, Charles Winninger, Robert Young, etc.) for a 75-minute film. Hayes herself rises above the decidedly clichéd material with a performance that does not feel dated even today. The episodic narrative involves a woman impregnated and left by her artist boyfriend Hamilton, then marries wealthy but elderly Stone – who is subsequently revealed to be a crook! The woman is herself incriminated and sent to prison; when her term expires, she is unable to find work and actually gives her kid (who grows up to be esteemed doctor Young) the impression that his mother died! Before long, she goes downhill – becoming a streetwalker (easily the most laughable section of the film!) and, convincingly made-up, aging prematurely. Eventually, she breaks into her son's house; rather than report her, he takes pity on the woman and starts taking care of her (without ever discovering her true identity!). Incidentally, the plot assumes a flashback structure – in which Young's wife, Morley, is about to leave him because of his over-dedication to duty…but is persuaded to stay by social worker Hersholt, who recounts Hayes' sacrifice for her motherly love of the same man.

For the record, director Selwyn only directed eight films (I also own his SKYSCRAPER SOULS {1932} and TURN BACK THE CLOCK {1933}) and, in fact, was more renowned as a playwright; besides, the similarly-gifted Charles MacArthur – Hayes' just-as-celebrated husband – served as "dialogue continuity" here!

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