(Contains spoilers!) Based on the French play by Tristan Bernard, this was previously filmed in 1915 with Sarah Bernhardt in the title role. Jacques Doré is the son of Jeanne, and together they run a small gift shop for children. It seems that Jacques falls madly in love with the already married Fanny (Evi Maltagliati) and will do anything to keep her, including paying off her substantial debts. He asks mom to give him money. When mom (Emma Gramatica) says no, he asks a rich local and is refused. Not only that but the man insults Fanny's virtue.
Jacques kills him in a sudden fit of rage. Jeanne realizes her son is in deep trouble when she walks into his room and observes him guiltily washing a blood-stained garment. Mother can do very little to save her wayward son except plead for leniency in court. The guilty young man is given a long prison term, and in a final prison scene, which utterly begs credulity, from the shadows mom pretends to be Fanny and promises eternal love.
The great actress Emma Gramatica pulls out all the stops and out-Bernhardts Bernhardt and perhaps out-Duses Duse. She is a bit on the excessive side and yet quite moving. This film was the first offering of the new production house Scalera. Mario Bonnard directed with a sure hand. Leonardo Cortese and Evi Maltagliati are perfectly cast in their roles.
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