A Mystery Madame
From the minute Clay Anderson (John Forsythe) introduced Holly (Lana Turner) to his mother (Virginia Grey) she knew she would never get away from her dominating and controlling ways especially as she had high political hopes for her son. So a few years after John and Holly start a family together Holly finds herself being forced out of the family by her mother-in-law when Phil (Ricardo Montalban) ain intimate friend of Holly's dies in an accident. After spending years of heavy drinking and going from one unsavoury man to another Holly returns home and finds herself in serious trouble when she murders someone who threatens to expose her past. In need of legal defence she finds herself represented by her now grown up son who is oblivious to who his client is and is flummoxed by her refusal to tell him her real name.
I probably gave a little more away that I normally would with that synopsis for "Madame X" but with out giving a bit more away this movie would sound pretty cliche. By that the first part is all about the setting up of Clay's mum being a manipulative woman who is just waiting to force Holly out of the marriage after giving Clay a son and heir. And the second part which establishes that in those wilderness years Holly lead a pretty lousy life suffering with depression and alcoholism. It means that "Madame X" is very much about the second half which is Holly refusing to tell her lawyer the truth as to who she is because she is protecting him.
Now what I find amusing about "Madame X" is this storyline with its contrived second half would not be out of place in a modern TV movie and would be mocked because of its ridiculous nature. But that isn't the case here because we are talking about a 1960s melodrama where over the top soap opera style performances are not out of place and to some extent cherished. In fact the over the top looks which the actors give, the dramatic nature of the orchestral soundtrack and the manufactured use of shadow to half obscure faces all combine and give it a very distinct style which many audiences still love.
In fairness "Madame X" has something which a modern equivalent would lack and that is Lana Turner. Turner was so at home in this sort of melodrama, the looks of pain she would give whilst over the top were perfect as was the way she could switch between happiness and vulnerability in a split second. Yes there are those now familiar names in supporting roles but "Madame X" is all about Lana Turner and she delivers 100% Lana Turner in every single scene.
What this all boils down to is that "Madame X" is certainly entertaining in that 1960s Hollywood melodrama sort of way which now comes across as over the top and manufactured. But when you get past any of its nostalgic charm the actual storyline is ridiculous in its nature and these days would be more at home in a TV movie.