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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The definitive "sacrificing mother" saga of the 1930s
Helen Hayes makes an astonishing film debut here as the title character, a young woman who runs off with her poor beau and has a child. Through ensuing (and realistic) circumstances, she goes through the transitions of being a destitute country girl, a jewel thief's lover, a prison inmate and finally becoming a haggard vagrant. All of these incidents, at the expense of her own pleasure, are done in order to secure a place in life for her son as a prominent physician. At only 73 minutes, one would expect these changes to occur at somewhat of a breakneck speed, but the movie moves along at a leisurely and elegiac pace. Hayes won herself a well-deserved Academy Award for her luminous performance in this ultimate 1930s tearjerker.
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