With Lana Turner in the title role and supporting help from John Forsythe, Constance Bennett, Ricardo Montalban, Burgess Meredith, and Keir Dullea, 1966's Madame X is not only my favorite Lana Turner film but my favorite film of the 1960's and among my top 7 movies of all-time. It's an incredibly beautiful, heart-tugging movie...the one I consider to be the tearjerker of all tearjerkers (though Gary Cooper's Ten North Frederick is right up there too). It doesn't just cause me to weep...but to sob...almost to the point that I can barely breathe. Sometimes, I pop the movie into the player and then fast-forward to the final 30 minutes just so I can sob my heart out. Strange, yes...but the absolute truth.
The story is about Holly Anderson (Lana), a young woman who has married into a rich and powerful family. Her husband, Clay (John Forsythe), has political aspirations and an extremely controlling mother (Constance Bennett) who wants to be sure her son becomes all that he aspires to be. Although Holly and Clay seem happy and even have a son early into their marriage, Clay travels a great deal, leaving Holly very lonely. Her mother-in-law, however, tells Holly that she simply must not sit home and long for Clay...that she has a role to fulfill...that she must continue to be seen socially.
At the time I first discovered Madame X, I didn't profess to be a huge Lana Turner fan; in fact, I really didn't care for her that much. While I loved the movie and the title character, Lana herself did nothing for me. Since then, though, I've come to love Lana and now deem her among my five favorite actresses of all time. I truly believe her performance in Madame X has to be the finest performance of her career. She is completely brilliant here...very definitely worthy of an Academy Award nomination, which, unbelievably, she did not receive.
It has recently come to my awareness that there is a 1937 version of Madame X, with Gladys George in the title role. I would love an opportunity to see it and to compare the two films.
Since Madame X is out on DVD, it ought to be fairly easy to track down a copy. Try to see it if you can, as it really is an amazingly beautiful, heart-tugging movie which I highly recommend.