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The Sin of Madelon Claudet (1931)

Passed  -  Drama  -  24 October 1931 (USA)
6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 513 users  
Reviews: 15 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.

Director:

Writers:

(from the play "The Lullaby" by), (dialogue continuity by), 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
...
Dr.Claudet
...
...
...
Rosalie
Karen Morley ...
Alice
Charles Winninger ...
Photographer
...
Hubert
Halliwell Hobbes ...
Roget
Lennox Pawle ...
St. Jacques
Russ Powell ...
Claudet
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Storyline

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 <eichenbe@fak-cbg.tu-muenchen.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

24 October 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die Sünde der Madelon Claudet  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A studio cast list, dated 15 June 1931, lists the following performers (and character names), all of whom were replaced and did not appear in the movie: William Bakewell (Jacques), Tenen Holtz (Emil), Lloyd Ingraham (Claudet), Claire McDowell (Angeline), Bradley Page (Salignac), Aileen Pringle (Suzette) and Margaret Seddon (Grandmother). In the final rewritten script, many of these characters were eliminated. A modern source lists Otto Hoffman in the cast as "Official," but he was not seen in the movie. See more »

Quotes

Carlo Boretti: Sit here my dear. Oh wait, I want to get this cushion... it brings out all the blue that's sleeping in your eyes.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in What's My Line?: Episode dated 7 June 1964 (1964) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

 
Early tear-jerker takes the mother /son love theme to extremes...
16 February 2010 | by (U.S.A.) – See all my reviews

It's amazing that in the same decade that produced films like GONE WITH THE WIND and STAGECOACH, technically superb in every way, there were the more primitive early talkies like THE SIN OF MADELON CLAUDET.

Everything about it has a museum piece quality. It's hokey from the very first scene and you immediately know that this film has not stood the test of time the way true film classics have.

The acting is overly dramatic with every line magnified for the sound camera, and even HELEN HAYES has a hard time being convincing when she has to play a woman of the streets. Nevertheless, her efforts in this tear-jerker won her an Academy Award as Best Actress of 1931. When she's required to wear age make-up for the later scenes, she looks so much like the Ada Quonsett character she played in AIRPORT ('70).

It's the kind of film that would be remade in later years with stars like Kay Francis, Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Crawford or Olivia de Havilland. A mother makes all sorts of sacrifices in order to be close to her son or daughter after an ill-advised love affair gone wrong.

NEIL HAMILTON, as the man who deserts his wife, gives probably the most natural performance in the film. LEWIS STONE, as a kind-hearted thief, for some reason looks even older than he did as Judge Hardy in the Andy Hardy series. As Hayes' romantic interest he seems incredibly miscast.

There is not a shred of background music or even a hint of humor in all the proceedings. Only anguish and heartbreak without the usual violin strings.

It's heavy going all the way--a primitive film from the early talkies that must have seemed shocking at the time but hardly holds up as respectful melodrama today and has been largely forgotten.

Just as Lewis Stone looks impossibly old to play the count, Robert Young, in one of his first films plays her son, the young doctor, long before he played Marcus Welby, M.D. on TV and looks impossibly youthful.

A curiosity piece, nothing more.


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