The seventh and best version of French playwright Bisson's overblown tearjerker (other versions were filmed in 1915, 1920, 1929, 1937, 1948 as THE TRAIL OF MADAME X, 1960, and in 1981 as a made-for-TV picture) features a fine performance by Turner as the young wife of ambitious diplomat,
Forsythe. Because of her husband's frequent absences, Turner tries to quench her loneliness by having an affair with playboy Montalban. When he is accidentally killed in her presence, she desperately turns to her nasty mother-in-law, Bennett (in her last screen appearance). The bitter, older woman
advises her to leave the country or face responsibility for ruining her husband's career. Turner says a tearful good-bye to her young son and disappears. As the years go by, her fortunes go from bad to worse, and she is forced into prostitution in Mexico. There, she meets slimy crook Meredith, who
traps her in a clever blackmail scheme. When she learns the victim is Forsythe, she kills Meredith and is soon brought up on murder charges. Known only to the courts as Madame X, Turner is shocked to discover that the young attorney (Dullea) assigned to defend her is her own son. Not wanting him
or the jury to know the truth, she valiantly tries to hide her feelings. Dullea, however, is strangely drawn to this mysterious woman. He defends her with such youthful vigor that he nearly wins the case. But the verdict is never heard. Turner collapses from heart disease, comforted by the
presence of the son she can never acknowledge. Despite its dated and somewhat maudlin plot line, the 1966 version of MADAME X succeeds because of the total dedication of the main participants. Turner used the film to rejuvenate her independent film company. With a vested interest in the film's
success, she chose producer Hunter, whose experience with so-called "women's pictures" had received favorable notice. Hunter brought handsome production values to the film. Although veteran melodrama director Douglas Sirk was originally slated, David Lowell Rich was eventually chosen to direct.
But it is Turner's heartfelt (and perhaps very personal) performance that gives this version of Bisson's classic weeper its real vitality.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: The seventh and best version of French playwright Bisson's overblown tearjerker (other versions were filmed in 1915, 1920, 1929, 1937, 1948 as THE TRAIL OF MADAME X, 1960, and in 1981 as a made-for-TV picture) features a fine performance by Turner as the y… (more)