Madame X VHS
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Sam Wood directed this fourth version of the Alexandre Bisson weeper, buffed to a high gloss by shimmering M.G.M. production values. Gladys George plays Jacqueline Fleuriot this time around, the wife of a diplomat who has an affair and is compelled to leave her husband and son. After abandoning her family, she sinks into a sea of debauchery, becoming involved in prostitution, blackmail, and eventually murder. After the murder, her son Raymond (John Beal), now a grown man and a famous lawyer, is called upon to defend her. Unaware that the woman he is defending is his long lost mother, Jacqueline tries to hide her past from her successful son.
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Gladys George (1904-54) plays Madame X. She was nominated for an Oscar for "Valiant is the Word for Carrie" (1936) but is probably better known as Jimmy Cagney's moll from "The Roaring Twenties" (1939) or Humphrey Bogart's dead partner's wife from "The Maltese Falcon" (1941). She is billed above the title on this one, and deservedly so. This is an excellent performance and it is uncanny how she ages 20 years not only in appearance, but in manner, voice, etc.
Warren William (1894-1948) plays George's husband, a wealthy lawyer who is too proud to forgive Madame X her trespass, setting in motion the sad story. William is probably best known for his role as d"Artagnan in "The Man in the Iron Mask" (1939) and as the first Perry Mason in a series of mid 30s films.
John Beal (1909-97) plays George's son. Beal made nearly 100 films between 1933 and 1993, usually as a second male lead and mostly in B films. He's probably best known for his role as Judge Vail in TV's "Dark Shadow" (1970-71). He is effective in this role, meant for Tyrone Power.
Henry Daniell (1894-1963) plays a sleazy blackmailer. He made nearly 100 films between 1929 and 1964, often as a villain. He played Prof. Moriarty, Joseph Goebbels, and countless evil Englishmen.
Reginald Owen (1887-1972) plays a friend of the family. He's best known as Ebenezer Scrooge from "A Christmas Carol" (1938) and made nearly 100 films including "Mary Poppins" (1964) and "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" (1971). He has the distinction of having played Sherlock Holmes ("A Study in Scarlet") as well as Dr. Watson ("Sherlock Holmes).
Sam Wood directs. Wood began his career as an assistant to Cecil B DeMille and started directing films in 1920. He hit his stride in the mid 30s with "A Night at the Opera" (1935), "A Day at the Races" (1937), and "Goodbye Mr. Chips" (1939) for which he received his first of 3 Oscar nominations. Among the 80 films he directed "Kings Row" (1942), "Pride of the Yankees" (1942) and "For Whom the Bell Tolls" (1943) stand out.
1937 was a pretty meager year in films. The top grossing films were "Snow White", "Saratoga", "One Hundred Men and a Girl", "Topper", and "Wee Willie Winkie". The Oscars went to "The Life of Emile Zola" (Picture), "The Awful Truth" (Director), "The Good Earth" (Actress) and "Captains Courageous" (Actor). Other notable releases that year were "Dead End", "The Prince and the Pauper", the Marx Brothers "A Day at the Races", and "A Star is Born". Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland made their first film together ("Thoroughbreds Don't Cry") and 17 year old Lana Turner appeared in "They Won't Forget" and became "the Sweater girl". Clark Gable and Myrna Loy were voted the King and Queen of Hollywood.
Bottom line - a memorable tear jerker with great performances all around.
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