Based on one of the most sensational murder cases of 19th-century Scotland, MADELEINE sees a bravura performance from Todd as the beautiful accused murderess. Todd, the attractive but reclusive and somewhat moody daughter of an upper-class family in Victorian Glasgow, Scotland, meets
Desny, a romantic social climber. The two carry on a brief clandestine affair, meeting in the maid's quarters in the basement of her father's mansion. Todd's father, Banks, a wealthy merchant, wants her to marry Wooland, but she is not attracted to the boring, rather stuffy young man and opts for
the exciting Desny. Her lover, however, does not want to be kept in a closet and insists that Todd introduce him to her family so he can begin an open courtship. Todd can't bring herself to do that, and when Desny sees her dancing with Wooland at a fancy ball, he threatens to show Todd's love
letters to her father unless she formally introduces him to her family. Angered, Todd dumps Desny and becomes engaged to Wooland, yet she cannot forget her impetuous lover. When Desny is later found dead from arsenic poisoning, Todd is accused of killing him. She is tried and her defense counsel
makes one brilliant move after another, causing the jury to return a verdict of "Not Proven" (a verdict peculiar to Scotland, one, like this film, that judges Todd neither guilty nor innocent). The viewer is left to decide whether or not Todd is guilty at the chilling finale, but the director does
allow this superb actress to climb into a carriage after her release, sit back, and let a small, knowing smile creep across her face.
The script and direction are handled with amazing restraint, cleverly and carefully constructed, heightened by Todd's inherently enigmatic image. This was the last film produced by Cineguild, one that presents a fascinating criminal puzzle and excellent all-around performances. The real Madeleine
Smith left Glasgow and settled in America, living a quiet, uncelebrated life. When she died at age 93, her friends and neighbors were shocked to learn that she was the notorious Glasgow lady who had turned Victorian England on its cultured head.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Based on one of the most sensational murder cases of 19th-century Scotland, MADELEINE sees a bravura performance from Todd as the beautiful accused murderess. Todd, the attractive but reclusive and somewhat moody daughter of an upper-class family in Victor… (more)