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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Holly Anderson (Lana Turner) is the young wife of a rich diplomat(John
Neglected by her husband, she is driven in boredom into the arms of Phil Benton, a playboy (Richardo Montalban).
When he is killed in a bad fall during one night of their encounter, she appeals to her matriarchal mother-in-law for help... But the aristocratic woman (Constance Bennett) who has always considered her an embarrassment to her family, convinces her the indiscretion will cost her husband his career and wreck their young son's life...
Over the years, she slowly drifts into a life of alcoholism and prostitution, sinking lower and lower until. in a Mexican hotel she meets Dan Sullivan (Burgess Meredith) a smooth-talking con-man, and agrees to join him in a blackmail scheme...
When she discovers too late that the intended victim is her husband, she shoots the ugly blackmailer and goes on trial for murder signing her confession as the mysterious Madame X...
Unaware of her true identity, the young lawyer assigned to defend her is her own son Clay Anderson Jr (Keir Dullea), now grown to manhood...
No one will be able to watch "Madame X" (filmed six times) without a strange feeling in the throat... So if you haven't cried so much in years, this is your opportunity to see the mother-love and self-sacrifice in specially in the famous courtroom scenes... She's truly very moving...
Constance Bennett, one of the most glamorous stars of the 1930s returned to the screen after a twelve-year absence... Sadly, the film was Bennett's last; she died shortly before it was released...
Madame X is one of the great soap opera films of all time, popular back
in the day, but by the sixties that genre had really run its course.
But it is given one handsomely mounted production by Ross Hunter who
was the last great Hollywood producer of such drama.
This film has a long pedigree. It is based on a play by Alexandre Bisson entitled La Femme X and in France it has been filmed quite a few times. In America Madame X was filmed twice. The original film was an early talkie and won an Oscar nomination for its star Ruth Chatterton. But that one was essentially a photographed stage play.
Come 1966 if nothing else Ross Hunter made this film move. All kinds of location shooting done here, from Fairfield County, Connecticut to Switzerland, to Mexico and back to New York. It's the 20 year saga of Holly Anderson who paid big time for a bad mistake.
Lana Turner played Anderson who when we meet here has just married Clayton Anderson from a very old line WASP family with a pedigree back to the pilgrims. John Forsythe is Clayton and in her last film, Constance Bennett is his mother Estelle. They have a son, but Forsythe's political career takes him away for long stretches and she begins an affair with playboy Ricardo Montalban. When Forsythe returns, Turner attempts to break it off with Montalban, but Montalban won't hear of it. During a struggle Montalban falls down a flight of stairs and is killed.
Bennett who's been keeping tabs on this whole business confronts Turner and tells her to fake her death and leave before scandal ruins the good Anderson name which now includes another generation. For the sake of her husband and son, Turner sacrifices and leaves.
The rest of the film is her wanderings until she gets involved with a petty crook played by Burgess Meredith and she kills him. She signs a written confession with an X hence the title.
I won't tell the rest but make sure the bathtowel is handy while watching this film. Lana Turner who knew plenty about scandal and sacrifice in her life, does pretty well by this role. The rest of the players are in support of her, almost in awe.
By this time soap opera had found its way on to the small screen, both in the afternoon and evening prime time. Films like Madame X just didn't do that well any more at the box office. A pity too, because you won't forget Turner's climatic scene with her grown son, played by Keir Dullea.
Madam X is the film which should have given Lana Turner an Oscar! This is her best film that she had made and if you watch this film you will know why. She expresses so much emotion without any words just by the looks she gives in the court room scene alone. Lana ages from a young women to an older women so believably. It is not only the makeup she wears to show her aging...it is her performance. The rest of the cast did a very good job...but this is Lana's film and she holds it on her own by herself. If you enjoy tear-jerker's...this will deliver the tears because this movie will move you to those emotions. Madam X is a good film on it's own, but Lana's performance made it a wonderful film.
Lana Turner, party gal supreme, was a fine actress whose personal life
detracted from her fine on-camera work. "The Bad and The Beautiful"
"Peyton Place" "Imitation Of Life" and this film "Madame X" are all
examples of fine acting. Lana Turner after the Stopanato Murder was
given a new lease on her career by Ross Hunter at Universal, and the
result was "Imitation of Life" a huge success for Universal and Turner
who had an ownership percentage in that hit. Hunter and Turner and
Universal reprised in "Portrait In Black" and hit another great home
run with a remake of "Madame X" also at Universal. Simply put Lana
Turner is outstanding in this film and the last 30 minutes of Madame X
has Lana Turner performing as only the best actresses could. Lana
Turner should have been nominated, but I gather her party ways, the
hangover of the Stompanto murder, etc..left a sour taste with some
Academy voters. Fine support by Keir Dullea and terrific seeing
Constance Bennett in the role of Lana's wicked Mother In Law. Ms
Bennett died soon after filming.
This is a fine Film with Lana Turner robbed of a Nomination.
A lower-class woman (Lana Turner) marries a rich man (John Forsythe)
much to his mother's (Constance Bennett) disapproval. Years pass--she
has a son and starts an affair with a sleazy guy (Ricardo Montalban).
When she tries to call if off he accidentally dies. Her mother-in-law
finds out and convinces her to fake her death and flee--or she'll ruin
the life of her husband and child. She does but is destroyed by
self-guilt and becomes an alcoholic. She ends up killing another
man...and is defended by her grown son (Kier Dullea)...who doesn't know
she's his mother!
OK--we're not dealing with reality here. This is basically a melodramatic howler with jaw-dropping lines but damned if it didn't (ocassionally) work. It's lushly made with beautiful settings and gorgeous outfits and clothes. It also has a pounding music score that tells us exactly how to feel. And Bennett (in her last film) got a face lift before this movie started filming--she looks younger than Lana! The acting is not bad. Bennett makes the most of her role as a cold, calculating woman and it's nice to see Kier Dullea so young. But this is Lana's show all the way--she's just great and even allows herself to look terrible towards the end. The climatic courtroom sequence could have been campy but Turner's performance holds it all together. Also Burgess Meredith is good in a supporting role.
This is a very silly but fun soap opera elevated by the acting and beautiful production values. Considered to be Lana's last real good movie. I give it an 8.
The old chestnut "Madame X" has had something like 9 screen versions,
not to mention a play and the book. There's an occasional change here
and there but the plot remains basically the same: A young woman is
thrown out of her home and separated from her child. She hits the
skids, and 20 years later, the child defends her on a murder charge.
So goes this version of "Madame X" as well, with a nice roster of stars: Lana Turner, Keir Dullea, John Forsythe, Ricardo Montalban, Constance Bennett, and Burgess Meredith. Turner is the unfortunate woman, happily married to Clayton Anderson (John Forsythe) a man with a good political future, and she's the mother of a young son. But the marriage becomes strained when Clayton is away too much, and Holly starts fooling around. When her husband comes home and she realizes how much she loves him, she tries to break it off with a roué (Ricardo Montalban). During an argument, he falls down the stairs to his death. Holly's mother-in-law, played by Constance Bennett, arranges for her to disappear with a new identity. In Europe, Holly meets a wealthy musician who falls in love with her, but she runs out on him - a big mistake - and ends up turning to alcohol and easy sex. When she murders a blackmailer (Meredith) who is going to tell her son who she is, she ends up on trial - defended by her son.
Well, the pot doesn't boil any better than this, and Hunter gives it a big, expensive production and sets Lana Turner loose in what is probably her best performance. Although the age/dissipation makeup is a little over the top, Turner gives the degenerate Holly a great, hard edge and a lot of frailty. It's a nice juxtaposition to the earlier sweetness and buoyancy of her character. Turner was one of those movie stars whose beauty, glamor, and private life often had critics not paying much attention to her performances, but she gave some good ones nonetheless. The other standout in the cast is Bennett, who's as slender as she was in the '30s and a lot tougher. Her voice has dropped a couple of octaves and her hair is a strange brown (this was perhaps in deference to the blond Lana). Toward the end of the film, she gets white hair softly styled and looks beautiful - even with the age makeup that needed to be added to the 60-year-old. The role of Forsythe's manipulative, protective mother is perfect for her -- a fitting last film for one of the great and prolific stars of the 1930s. She died before the film was released. Keir Dullea is appealing as the son, and Forsythe is pleasant though he doesn't have a huge role.
Try as they might, Madame X is from another time and by 1966 just wasn't great movie material. It is however, entertaining and engrossing. The most jaded person can't help but to be moved by the ending, though you may hate yourself for it.
That Lana Turner played her beauty down so much in this movie, that she acted like a dream - this is the real Lana Turner. She was marvelous. This movie is a heart breaker. That darling son that defends her, not knowing she was his mother, and yet, had an instinct? This is Hollywood and Lana Turner at their finest. If you want true soap opera and none of the tripe, go for this. John Forsythe, Constance Bennett? Even they are tearing up at Lana's performance. Marvelous is all I can say. Marvelous!!!! I loved Lana Turner when she was younger, but her later movies such as this and Peyton Place? She was and will always be fantastic.
I couldn't agree more ! I have always thought this was Lana supreme --- even better than "Peyton Place." Hollywood OWED it to Lana to nominate her greatest performance --- a terrible oversight. It's like nominating Doris for "Pillow Talk" INSTEAD of "Love Me or Leave Me." I will never forget seeing this movie at Fort Hood, Texas when I was in basic training in 1966. I bought the soundtrack LP immediately, and played it to death. It has never come out on CD. HELLO, Universal Music ??? Nice to see her fans supporting her, though ! And the movie is a luscious "guilty pleasure." It looks like the cast enjoyed making this film. I know Constance Bennett must have loved to have one more juicy role ! If you like the splashy, technicolor "wimmen's pitchas", as my sister would say, don't miss this !
Yes, this film is the "queen of all soap operas," but it has one thing going for it. And that's the acting of Lana Turner, who gives the performance of her career. If you don't shed a tear at the end of this film, you are made of stone!
This glossy remake of an attorney (Keir Dullea) defending a woman accused of murder, not knowing it's his mother is a grand soaper. Lana Turner gives a bravura performance going from ravishing beauty to a haggered drunken sot all in the name of mother love. Veteran actress Constance Bennett is equally good as her conniving mother-in-law. Also in the cast are John Forsythe, Ricardo Montalban and Burgess Meredith as two unsavory characters. Lovely Virginia Grey is also present. Of course no Ross Hunter film would be complete without sumptuous production values, lavish wardrobe and lush surroundings.
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