The Sin of Madelon Claudet

Overview

In the space of 74 minutes, Helen Hayes goes from naïve French country lass to elderly harridan in Sin of Madelon Claudet. Is it any wonder that she won an Academy Award? She truly deserved this Oscar; the jury is still out concerning her cutesy supporting turn in 1969's Airport, which also copped her the gold statuette. Betrayed by artist Neil Hamilton, Hayes moves on to jewel thief Lewis Stone, who commits suicide to avoid arrest, leaving Hayes to her fate. After ten years in jail for her complicity in Stone's ...
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Overview

In the space of 74 minutes, Helen Hayes goes from naïve French country lass to elderly harridan in Sin of Madelon Claudet. Is it any wonder that she won an Academy Award? She truly deserved this Oscar; the jury is still out concerning her cutesy supporting turn in 1969's Airport, which also copped her the gold statuette. Betrayed by artist Neil Hamilton, Hayes moves on to jewel thief Lewis Stone, who commits suicide to avoid arrest, leaving Hayes to her fate. After ten years in jail for her complicity in Stone's crimes, Hayes turns to the only profession open to her. She walks the streets to raise enough money to support her illegitimate son, who grows up to be Robert Young and who has no idea that Hayes is his mother. Thanks to his mother's anonymous financial support, Young is able to attend medical school, eventually becoming a wealthy doctor. Even allowing for the illogical nature of the plotline and the lachrymose dialogue, the heartrending final scenes of Sin of Madelon Claudet can still raise a lump in the throat after 65 years.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Legend has it that Helen Hayes was somewhat embarrassed at winning an Oscar for a work as blatantly manipulative and melodramatic as The Sin of Madelon Claudet, but Hayes' performance overcomes the limitations of the material and, more importantly, even manages to elevate that material. Hayes is simply stunning, investing every moment of this sudsy tearjerker with an honesty that makes even its most stilted dialogue come alive. Her naïveté in the early segment of the film is endearing rather than cloying; it feels real rather than manufactured and, therefore, makes all the more powerful her strongly ambivalent feelings at the birth of her son. Hayes handles the transformations into each of the stages of her life with remarkable facility. In each stage she is practically a different character, yet the audience never once questions that they are all the same woman -- nor questions whether one woman could exhibit so many different facets. While it's hard to see past the star performance, it must be noted that she gets some very solid support from the rest of the cast, especially from a wonderful Lewis Stone and an engaging Marie Prevost. The screenplay of Madelon is tripe, but Hayes and her company make the film worth watching.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/5/2011
  • UPC: 883316342886
  • Original Release: 1931
  • Source: Warner Archives
  • Time: 1:15:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 44,647

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Helen Hayes Madelon Claudet
Neil Hamilton Larry
Robert Young Dr. Jacques Claudet
Cliff Edwards Victor
Jean Hersholt Dr. Dulac
Marie Prevost Rosalie
Karen Morley Alice Claudet
Charles Winninger The Photographer
Alan Hale Hubert
Halliwell Hobbes Roget
Lennox Pawle St. Jacques
Russell Powell Claudet
Otto Hoffman Official
Ed Brady
Frankie Darro Jacques (younger)
Lewis Stone Carlo Boretti
Technical Credits
Edgar Selwyn Director
Cedric Gibbons Art Director
Tom Held Editor
Edward Knoblock Screenwriter
Charles MacArthur Screenwriter
Oliver Marsh Cinematographer
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