Madame X (1929)
Reviewed in May 2010
Director: Lionel Barrymore. Cast: Ruth Chatterton, Lewis Stone, Raymond Hackett, Holmes Herbert, Eugenie Besserer, Carroll Nye, Ullrich Haupt, John P. Edington, Claude King, Chappell Dossett, Sôjin. Screenplay: Willard Mack (based on the play by Alexandre Bisson).

Photo © 1929 Metro Goldwyn Mayer
Maid tells father that she has seen RC passing by, obv maternal longing; prohibited from speaking; Dr confirming boy's health; dr denouncing "Sheer idolatry!" - "children are ungrateful little beasts at the very best"; patchy sound; dr thinks Floriot needs company; maid: "Madame ran away and left him with the boy... when her son was only a year old" Dr: "Strange, and not human at all"; RC in Eastern robe/turban/headdress at playground bench, leanign of son's recent illness from another nanny; tearful CU on RC gets Stone's attention; v. tearful, high-pitched "I've come to see my son!"; stagy "cold, calm, philosophy!" over back of chair; "Oh, Louis - is it because you want to be cruel, or because you don't know how cruel you are" (long two shot, with brief maid interruption); her other man is dead, as she pathetically reveals to LS, though in her CU, she looks faintly revulsed by life's unfairness - and LS thinks she's just out of options; LS: "I'm sorry to have to remind you again, that this is not your home, it is MINE"; "you're being more brrutal and sevee-ah than I deserve!" pretty unembarrasingly old-fashioned and dewy, in uninflected two shots; more than 20 min have past before we know that "He Thinks You're Dead"; finally some energy as she sprints for door, "Let me out! Let me out!!", begging Rose not to divulge the truth of her being alive to boy; HH didn't know about RC's dept or the divorce; left him for a man who "gave her nothing but his Cheap Love"; turns out HH had the hots for her!; can't believe he kept her from Raymond; fruitily overenunciating, garishly beauty-marked as she tries to "resist" a flat-footed uniformed Navy man in a lake-filled gazebo; "I knew your life was filled with trouble, I knew it as soon as I looked at you... That's why I love you"; just CRUSHING direction of the actors; she's living at Col's compound, with oddly Orientalized servant/chaperone; col asserts she is Russian; hunching forward in Islander robe, "That's beautiful, but it's very sad," in low, liquored voice, while a Pacificer plays acoustic guitar laterally on lap; bamboo cottage; "WHat would a boat be doing in this ROTTEN hole?"; "One might as well be done at 9 as at 10"; Col slaps her to the ground after he calls her "brutish swine"; unconvincing bawl; Now he's mad b/c he can't find her, despite all the searching?; son's now a lawyer, but LS only cares that he marries a good woman and treats her right (son can't understand why this would be difficult); new voice, hair, comportment for tough, rent-struggled, hotel floozy in South America: "I hope you won't think I'm rude if I suggest that I don't think an honest penny would interest you a bit"; RC has a bad habit of constantly telling the story of LS and son in all prof contacts - now she's back in Paris, but grossly disheveled, baggy-eyed, slurry and sozzled; @ 10000, gruff "But I haven't told you who I am!!"; (with Laroque); barks at Laroque's invitees that they are vultures, swooping around LS the Attorney General; If I was somebody, "you think I'd be the companion of a swine like THAT?"; stoop-shouldered, baby-bawling shrike; strikes RC across the face, knocks her to the ground; shoots him from offscreen (r) as he embarks to break the news to LS and son; she trembles and gasps in chair, contemplates gun in he rpalm; state-appt lawyer HER SON; back to old stage style: "My life has become such a hopeless tangle" - "anything, prison, death, is better than the life I've been leading"; pushing her hair back from her forehead as gestus of spiritual anguish; First, doorman witness, awful reciter: "She said she did so to avoid brnging unhappiness to someone whom she loved"; "I... I... I said I wouldn't speak but I will" - "I'm not asking for leniency in any way" - she's just trying to stop anyone from trying to save me; "THAT SOMEONE IS A BOYYY!" wracked with panic and then tears; "I went into the streets, and I lived in the streets - how I lived in the streets, nobody knows"; she killed a man to save others - very beautiful, but NOT legal!; she hears "Floriot" is his name for the first time; a geyser of throaty "OH, NO! Oh, NO!!" his first case; Raymond: "Such a story of heroism and courage, such as France has rarely seen!" (??) = nothing in th etop half of hte shot; this husband must be without heart, without soul - LS looking gastric in the court; (RC: "Dear God! Dear God!"); RH: "Who is this man?? Where does he come from?"; overly contrived dialogue ("I'm little more than a boy myself!"; RC: "I can't stand it! I can't stand it! Please make it stop!" RH is having apoplexy, ovice and brows shooting upward; overripe scene even by this movie's standards, as she gives Raymond "A Mother's Kiss" (on the damn mouth!), pleading she needs nothing anymore, keeping LS silent as he agonizes; then she drops dead as the gendarme walks her off; HH: Silence! SILENCE! Don't betray her now!; Last shot of Raymond cradling her corpse on the floor: "She was a wonderful woman, Father - whoever she was" C+

Academy Award Nominations:
Best Director: Lionel Barrymore
Best Actress: Ruth Chatterton

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