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Thrown out of her home after her husband discovers her infidelity, a woman sinks into degradation. Twenty years later, she is charged with killing a man bent on revealing her degraded status to her husband and the son she left behind. The son, unaware of her identity, becomes her defense attorney. Written by
Katharine Holden <email@example.com>
The play originally opened in Paris, France, on 15 December 1908. An English translation of the play by John Raphael opened in New York City, New York, USA on 2 January 1910 and had 125 performances. See more »
Gladys George is "Madame X" in this 1937 version of the famous story - it's 1937, and this is already the second remake. The first was in 1929. The film also stars Warren William, John Beal, and Henry Daniell.
MGM pared down this production after a deal fell through which would have brought Tyrone Power in as Jacqueline's adult son and Shirley Temple in "The Wizard of Oz" from Fox and taken Gable and Harlow to Fox for "In Old Chicago." Harlow's death killed the deal, and I think all of the actors involved were better for it, except, of course, for Harlow. Power got to star in the important "In Old Chicago" instead of a supporting role; Judy Garland ended up as Dorothy; and Gable was able to stay away from another disaster film after "San Francisco."
There are story differences from the 1966 Lana Turner film, and I'm not sure which version is more accurate to the book. One thing that is definitely more accurate is Jacqueline's addiction to absinthe in the 1966 version, which isn't mentioned in 1937. Since the 1929 version has the alternate title of "Absinthe," I guess it was part of that script, and most likely the book a well. In this version, Jacqueline is thrown out by her husband (Warren William) for infidelity, and the boyfriend is murdered by another woman; William doesn't have a mother who engineers the exile to avoid a scandal after the accidental death of a man pursuing Jacqueline. The rest of the story is about the same.
Warren William by this time was playing flirtatious detectives - this role really hearkens back to the days when he played a villain, and he's very good. Henry Daniell is excellent as the blackmailer. John Beal, as Jacqueline's son, is so handsome in a Tyrone Power-esquire way, and he has a big, melodramatic monologue in court toward the end of the film. He does a great job, though of course the acting style today seems over the top. I had the pleasure of meeting him many years ago, and he was a lovely man. Though he never achieved stardom, he worked constantly through the '30s and '40s in film, constantly in television through the '50s, and through the '60s to the '90s, alternated between stage, film, and television.
This brings me to Gladys George, who wound up in supporting roles shortly after this film. George is magnificent as Jacqueline. A beautiful woman and great actress, she certainly showed in this film what she was capable of. She went on giving wonderful performances until her sad death in 1954 from a stroke, complicated by cirrhosis of the liver. Difficult personal problems definitely affected her career, but she left a fine legacy, "Madame X" being but one.
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