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Madame X is a 1966 American drama film directed by David Lowell Rich and starring Lana Turner. It is based on the 1908 play Madame X by French playwright Alexandre Bisson.

Madame X
Madame X 1966.jpg
Film poster
Directed byDavid Lowell Rich
Produced byRoss Hunter
Screenplay byJean Holloway
Based onMadame X
by Alexandre Bisson
StarringLana Turner
Music byFrank Skinner
CinematographyRussell Metty
Edited byMilton Carruth
Ross Hunter Productions
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • March 3, 1966 (1966-03-03) (Miami, Florida)
Running time
100 minutes
CountryUnited States



A lower class woman, Holly Parker (Turner), marries into the rich Anderson family with her husband Clayton (John Forsythe) having strong political aspirations. Her mother-in-law (Constance Bennett) looks down on her and keeps a watchful eye on her activities. Due to Clayton's frequent and long trips abroad, Holly forms a relationship with a well-known playboy (Ricardo Montalbán). When he accidentally dies, and only her mother-in-law knows she is innocent, the latter blackmails her into disappearing into the night during a planned boat trip, leaving her husband and son to grieve and Clayton to achieve his rise in the political world.

Holly slowly sinks into depravity all over the world, only to be brought back to America under false assumptions by a "friend" (Burgess Meredith) who plans on blackmailing her family. When she realizes that the man intends to reveal who she is to her son, she shoots him. The police arrest her and, refusing to reveal her identity, she signs a confession with the letter "X". As fate would have it, the court assigns a defense attorney who happens to be her long-lost son (Keir Dullea).


Actor Role
Lana Turner Holly Parker
John Forsythe Clayton Anderson
Ricardo Montalbán Phil Benton
Burgess Meredith Dan Sullivan
John van Dreelen Christian Torben
Virginia Grey Mimsy
Warren Stevens Michael Spalding
Carl Benton Reid The Judge
Teddy Quinn Young Clayton Anderson Jr.
Frank Maxwell Dr. Evans
Kaaren Verne Nurse Riborg
Joe De Santis Carter
Frank Marth Det. Combs
Bing Russell Police Sgt. Riley
Teno Pollick Manuel Lopez
Jeff Burton Bromley
Jill Jackson Police Matron
Constance Bennett Estelle Anderson
Keir Dullea Clayton Anderson Jr.


Hunter enjoyed great success remaking projects. He was interested in the project a long time and wanted to do it, but MGM had the rights. Then a few years later he re-read the play at a bookshop and became enthusiastic again. "I knew that if I kept the trial scene and brought the rest up to date I'd have something," he said.[1]

Hunter announced the film in May 1962. It was part of a slate of six projects, also including the Thrill of It All, The Chalk Garden, If a Man Answers, a new Tammy film, and remakes of Dark Angel. The script was done by Jean Holloway, who had written for Hunter in radio. Lana Turner, who had made Imitation of Life and Portrait in Black for Hunter, was attached as star from the beginning.[2]

"You really have to tell a whole new story," said Holloway.[3]

In October, Hunter said he hoped that Douglas Sirk would direct.[4]

"Tearjerkers are more difficult to make than any other type of movie," said Hunter. "Critics would seem to categorize them and look down on them; it is word of mouth that is their best press agent. It's all very sad in a way; maybe this is why we're not building great woman stars for audiences today. Audiences need to let their emotions out."[1]

Hunter signed a seven year contract with Universal in November 1964, with Madam X one of the leading projects. In February 1965 Keir Dullea was announced as star.[5] Gig Young was offered the older male lead but asked for too much money so Hunter hired John Forsyth.[6]

Hunter said he knew he needed "the one scene the public would remember", the trial scene. He had the play modernised ("standards of morality change") and had new characters introduced.[1] "Now we have a mother and child relationship that should be seen by parents and children alike," said Hunter. And I believe that for the first time since The Bad and the Beautiful Lana is giving a really great performance."[1]


Filming started March 1965.[7] The film was a co production between Universal and Turner's company, Eltee.[8]

In May Hedda Hopper reported that Turner was treating Hunter "like a dog" and was "nothing but trouble" on the set.[9]


The film contains an original song by Austrian composer, conductor Willy Mattes (alias Charles Wildman) titled "Love Theme from Madame X" (alternatively named "Swedish Rhapsody"). It was recorded by George Greeley on his 1957 Warner Bros album The World's Ten Greatest Popular Piano Concertos (LP).[10]


The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

Home mediaEdit

Madame X was released on DVD in Region 1 as a Lana Turner double feature with Portrait in Black by Universal Studios Home Entertainment on February 5, 2008.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d Tear-jerker Famine; It's a Crying Shame Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times April 18, 1965: M3.
  2. ^ FILMMAKER TALKS ABOUT 5 PROJECTS: Hunter, Here in Visit, Tells of MacDonald-Eddy Plan 'Tammy Takes Over' Is Next Joanne Woodward to Star British Film Opens Today 7 Vie for Golden Laurel Albert Lamorisse Visits By HOWARD THOMPSON. New York Times May 16, 1962: 33.
  3. ^ Rewrites Tough for Jean Holloway Los Angeles Times (1923-1995); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]Feb 1, 1966: c6.
  4. ^ 3D MOVIE VERSION OF 'MADAME X' SET: Ross Hunter to Film Drama in Color With Lana Turner By EUGENE ARCHER. New York Times October 6, 1962: 12.
  5. ^ Looking at Hollywood: 'Greatest Story' Called Magnificent Spectacle Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Tribune February 12, 1965: c12.
  6. ^ Alfred Hitchcock to Address Editors Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times February 17, 1965: D9.
  7. ^ O'Toole Bypassing 'Lord Jim' Premiere: Star Remains Here One Day Before Taking Off for Tokyo Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times (Mar 4, 1965: c8.
  8. ^ Those Old Flicks Make Lana Rich Chicago Tribune April 17, 1966: m13.
  9. ^ Looking at Hollywood: Sophia World's Favorite, Says Zanuck Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Tribune April 14, 1965: a1.
  10. ^ George Greeley, 1957 album on
  11. ^ "AFI's 10 Top 10 Nominees" (PDF). Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved August 19, 2016.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)

External linksEdit