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Madame X (1981)

Thrown out of her home by a jealous husband, a woman sinks into degradation. Twenty years later, she is charged with killing a man bent on harming her daughter. The daughter, unaware of who... See full summary »


Edward Anhalt (teleplay), Alexandre Bisson (play) | 1 more credit »
Won 1 Primetime Emmy. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tuesday Weld ... Holly Richardson
Jeremy Brett ... Dr. Terrence Keith
Len Cariou ... John Abbott
Martina Deignan Martina Deignan ... Elizabeth Reeves
Robert Hooks ... Dist. Atty. Roerich
Eleanor Parker ... Katherine Richardson
Jerry Stiller ... Burt Orland
Robin Strand Robin Strand ... Willy Dwyer
Granville Van Dusen ... Clay Richardson
Norman Bartold ... Judge Tom Matlock
Raleigh Bond Raleigh Bond ... Captain Costa
Stanley Brock ... Arthur Penrose
Camilla Carr ... Kit
Pola Miller Pola Miller ... Bejay Matlock
Tony Plana ... Senor Rueda


Thrown out of her home by a jealous husband, a woman sinks into degradation. Twenty years later, she is charged with killing a man bent on harming her daughter. The daughter, unaware of who the woman is, takes the assignment to defend her in court. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

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Release Date:

16 March 1981 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Tuesday Weld replaced Susan Blakely. See more »


Version of Madame X (1929) See more »

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User Reviews

Not Xceptional
27 October 2004 | by OctSee all my reviews

Alexandre Bisson's turn-of-the-century warhorse of a stage weepie has served movie producers well, with three silent and four talkie versions to date. The latest is a TV film where the set-up resembles Ross Hunter's glossy Lana Turner vehicle of 1965 (reviewed by me) and that screenplay's writer gets a credit.

Tuesday Weld is a 'flying waitress' (stewardess) from San Diego named Holly who marries an aristocratic would-be politician with a bitchily snobbish and protective mother. The guy to whom she guiltily succumbs while hubby's neglecting her in DC dies by falling downstairs, precipitating her exile to avoid bringing scandal on the clan-- also like the Hunter production. Twist is that an infant daughter, not a son as in Bisson's original, grows up to be a lawyer and defends her mom (unknowingly) in a murder trial many years later. Thus the mother-son charge of the previous films is lost, and the gay frisson with it; instead, we have faint feminist overtones.

Granville Van Dusen doesn't look or sound patrician as the weakling husband who acquiesces in his wife's disappearing act, and her fling with his friend is unmotivated. Dark, gaunt Eleanor Parker is Big Momma in her latter-day harpy mode, as seen most spectacularly in 'An American Dream'; but here her lines are lackluster, and she does not match the venomous hauteur of Constance Bennett putting down and expelling Lana. The 1981 production is soapy when it should be madly melodramatic: there is a touch of the Danielle Steels or Barbara Taylor Bradfords in the script's polish job by Edward Anhalt, who also pops up as the trial judge.

The action begins in 1956, but Weld's coiffeur and maquillage are not of the Fifties. She was touted as a kid model who'd finally become a Real Actress in 'Pretty Poison', but her squeaky, querulous manner as Holly does not impress alongside Lana Turner's post-Stompanato, dues-paid grandeur.

The nice Danish doctor-protector of the 1965 entry becomes a nice Irish ditto, played by Jeremy Brett with the hectoring raillery that would soon fit him to be Sherlock Holmes. To inject a faint sense of time passing, Holly later has an interlude with a draft-dodging drug dealer in Munich. Her fatal liaison with a Spanish conman (no match for 1965's Burgess Meredith) and the courtroom sequence are hasty and flat. So is her death scene in the cell. The TVM loses its nerve where Hunter's production pulled out the emotional stops and finished in a kind of lush bleakness. As so often, the tube has diminished its material.

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