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 <email@example.com>
pre-code story of mom trying to do the best for her son
The Sin of Madelon Claudet opens with a beautiful view of the Eiffel tower and the Seine River. A women is contemplating leaving her husband, and suddenly, we are in a flashback, explaining how we had gotten to this point. Helen Hayes is Madelon Claudet, a single mother in Paris around 1900, fighting to get ahead in life. Viewers will recognize Alan Hale as Monsieur Hubert, playing -- a gruff, fat man that storms out of the room -- must have been a real reach for him... he did that in every movie he was in from 1911 - 1950. Also look for Lewis Stone as Carlo Boretti; he was the kindly Doctor in Grand Hotel. Robert Young, about 25 at the time, plays Madelon's son Lawrence Claudet in this film, only his second credited role. From the cast/crew list on IMDb, it also appears a lot of material was deleted. Other reviewers have said how this feels like a Barbara Stanwyck film, and I agree completely. Single woman up against the world, hitting bad luck around every corner. But, except for the last 2 minutes, it's not as silly, soapy as some have said; it tells a pretty good solid story, which probably happened pretty often back then (and still does). The version I saw on TCM actually had good quality sound and picture. The play "Lullaby" on which this is based, was written by the same guy that wrote "Kismet" in 1914 - Edward Knoblock.
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