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 <email@example.com>
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 »
Sit here my dear. Oh wait, I want to get this cushion... it brings out all the blue that's sleeping in your eyes.
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Presently, in Paris, a neglected wife wants to leave her husband; he is a doctor who spends too much time with his patients. This selfish woman is lucky to have a husband, we will learn through the course of this story. Kindly Jean Hersholt helps us flashback Years ago, Normandy farmer's daughter Helen Hayes (as Madelon Claudet) decides to marry American artist Neil Hamilton (as Larry Maynard). Before the wedding bells actually ring, he is called away back to the US for a family emergency. Alas, he doesn't return and Ms. Hayes is left unmarried and in a "sinful" state. She has to make incredible sacrifices to make sure her son gets a chance to succeed in life...
This tearjerker plot was very popular during the 1920s, and beyond; played by most of the top actresses, it's about the woman who gives "it" up before the relationship is secure and, for some reason or other, is left enceinte. The warhorse in the genre was "Madame X" (several versions); at the time this film was released, the most memorable portrayal was by Ruth Chatterton. The Oscar-nominated actress would return to the basic storyline with "Frisco Jenny" (1932). Folks giving "Academy Awards" liked the story, obviously, and Ms. Hayes won "Best Actress" of the year for her impression. As is often the case, Hayes' portrayal was neither the best of the year nor the best of the type...
Hayes and Edgar Selwyn's "The Sin of Madelon Claudet" get good support from MGM, with Marie Prevost (as Rosalie Lebeau) seen most often. Young "Larry" is earnestly portrayed by Frankie Darro and Robert Young. Both of these young men have scenes that strain credulity. Any smart teenager would have guessed Hayes was his mother, probably before the kiss and most definitely after; likewise, any smart doctor would have picked Helen Hayes as the woman clutching a photograph of mother and son. Still, Hayes was a great stage actress; when silent movies began to talk, she and writing partner Charles MacArthur received an enthusiastic Hollywood welcome.
****** The Sin of Madelon Claudet (10/23/31) Edgar Selwyn ~ Helen Hayes, Marie Prevost, Lewis Stone, Robert Young
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