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>
According to Anthony Holden's book "Behind the Oscar" (1993), M.G.M. production chief Irving Thalberg, when pondering a soap-opera-ish script, gave it the green light with the immortal words, "Let's face it. We win Academy Awards with crap like 'Madelon Claudet.'" See more »
Early soap opera with Helen Hayes who would end up winning the Best Actress Oscar for her performance here as Madelon Cludet, a woman who runs away from home and finds one disaster after another. She gives birth to a son but soon is railroaded into prison where she comes out of and agrees to tell the child that his mother is dead. She then turns to prostitution so that she can give the son money to go through medical school. If you don't like sappy stories then it's probably best to stay away from this thing as there's so much sugar running around that many will gag on everything that happens from the opening scene to the closing one. I must admit that there were times where I felt the filmmakers were beating the viewer over the head with the sentimental moments but the nice performances make this film worth viewing. Hayes is exceptionally good here as her character goes from one abuse to another and she perfectly nails each emotion no matter how raw it is. I also found her to be excellent under all the make up of the older woman as she pulled this off as well. Lewis Stone has a brief role but he's his typical excellent self and Robert Young plays the adult kid. The ending is one you'll see coming from a mile away but I thought it packed a good little punch. The editing is something else that really worked well and this can easily be seen during the sequence where we cut back and forth to the mother "working" and the son getting the benefits of it. The biggest problem is that the film plays out like several 15-minute short films put together as the story pretty much just builds itself up for a payoff and then we go to the next short sequence that will then build up for a quick payoff.
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