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Showgirl Sally meets young playboy Leonard St. John; they fall in love and are secretly married. When Leonard's father discovers this he sets out to break them apart, and following a bitter row, Leonard kills himself, leaving Sally to pick up the pieces of her life. Written by
Col Needham <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Innocent woman meets rich playboy. Innocent woman is seduced by rich playboy. Innocent woman is abandoned by rich playboy. Innocent woman has rich playboy's child. Innocent woman loses rich playboy's child. No-longer-innocent woman ages and prepares to sacrifice all for her child.
An entire genre of motion pictures, which often feature Barbara Stanwyck or Lana Turner, has used this basic plot to wring tears from largely female audiences. In "The Secret of Madame Blanche," Irene Dunne takes a turn at this well-worn routine and maintains her dignity throughout, despite the script's attempts to drown her in clichés. In the role of showgirl, Sally Sanders, Dunne has a few opportunities to show off her fine voice, but the musical selections are poor. The relatively short film, which was adapted from a play, lurches forward from hackneyed scene to hackneyed scene and leaves chasms of time for the audience to fill in. Occasionally, patient viewers will be rewarded with dialog and delivery so rich in camp that they will howl helplessly with unintended laughter, although a mouth-to-mouth kiss between mother and son, perhaps common for the period, induces cringes today. While Lionel Atwill is effective as Aubrey St. John, the selfish controlling father, and Philips Holmes is appropriately weak as his son, the rich playboy, the film offers little beyond the incomparable Irene Dunne slumming in a sub-par vehicle. Coincidences abound, French accents come and go, laws benefit the rich and oppress the poor, and a mother's self-sacrificing love conquers all. What more could one ask for? Perhaps Barbara Stanwyck and "Stella Dallas?"
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