Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Jan. 9, 2021, The Sin of Madelon Claudet Main Title

This week’s mystery movie was the 1931 MGM picture “The Sin of Madelon Claudet,” with Helen Hayes, Lewis Stone, Neil Hamilton, Cliff Edwards, Jean Hersholt, Marie Prevost, Robert Young,  Karen Morley, Charles Wininger, Alan Hale, Halliwell Hobbes, Lennox Pawle and Russ Powell.

From the play “The Lullaby” by Edward Knoblock. Dialogue continuity by Charles MacArthur. Recorded by Douglas Shearer, art direction by Cedric Gibbons, wardrobe by Rene Hubert, photographed by Oliver T. Marsh, edited by Tom Held

Directed by Edgar Selwyn.

“The Sin of Madelon Claudet” is available on DVD from Warner Archive.

I chose “The Sin of Madelon Claudet” because it appeared on Film Daily’s 10 best films of 1931 as chosen by the movie critics of America. It premiered, according to Film Daily, at Lowe’s State in New Orleans, Oct. 23, 1931. The film is generally considered Helen Hayes’ film debut (although she appeared in the silent “Weavers of Life” in 1917) and she won an Academy Award for best actress.

This a calculated weeper of a movie. The plot is creaky and melodramatic about the downfall of an unwed mother (Hayes) who is victimized by a series of caddish men so that her son (Frankie Darro in early scenes, Robert Young as an adult) might make something of himself – thus he becomes a superstar of the medical profession.

Hayes is a fine actress and pulls off her transformation from young, innocent girl to unwed mother to kept woman, to streetwalker to frail old lady. Which tells you all you need to know about the film. Hollywood lore, which I don’t have time to verify so be careful, is that Irving Thalberg grafted on the scenes that bookend the movie  (Jean Hersholt lecturing party-loving Karen Morley that being married to a doctor demands wifely sacrifice) after the film’s poor reception in previews.

The original production of Edward Knoblok’s play starring Florence Reed, with 144 performances on Broadway from Sept. 17, 1923 to  January 1924, is dedicated “To the women that men have forgotten.” In a footnote, the costumes and scenery were designed by William Cameron Menzies.

Film Daily (Nov. 1, 1931) said:

Great woman audience stuff in this mother love drama. Star is brilliant performer with excellent support.

Women will cry for, and over, this picture, which has been remade into a worthwhile piece of product. And, additionally, the reviewers will cheer for it. The star is unknown to screen audiences, but her supporting players included well-established names and Miss Hayes herself will win plenty of applause for her work.

Harrison’s Reports (Nov. 7, 1931) said:

The story is demoralizing, but the sex situations have been covered so cleverly with human interest that the picture stands out as a stirring drama of mother love. The story has been changed radically; it now is entirely different from the play from which it was adapted. The most sordid situations have been omitted. The heroine has the sympathy of the audience at all times because of her willingness to sacrifice her life for the sake of her child. Several situations are so stirring that it is difficult for one to restrain emotions.

And let’s see which New York Times critic hated it:

Gosh, I’m wrong. Mordaunt Hall loved it. Now that’s a switch.

Writing in the New York Times (Oct. 31, 1931), Hall said:

It is no wonder that the production heads of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer are enthusiastic over Helen Hayes’ acting in her first picture, “The Sin of Madelon Claudet.” For this actress’ superb portrayal in a difficult role leaves only the regret that the powers that be did not see fit to have her make her screen debut in a more cheerful study, such as a version of Sir James A. Barrie’s play “What Every Woman Knows,” in which she did so well on stage.

Jan. 4, 2021, Mystery Photo of a woman

For Monday, we have a mystery woman. Her companion has been cropped out due to insufficient mysteriousness and will appear Friday or possibly “Aha Thursday.”

For “Aha Thursday,” we add our mystery gentleman.

Update: This is Jean Hersholt and Karen Morley.

Jan. 5, 2020, Mystery Photo

For Tuesday, we have a mystery gentleman. His companion has been cropped out due to insufficient mysteriousness and will appear on “Aha Thursday.”

For Thursday, we add a blurry mystery guest.

Update: This is Gus Leonard and a blurry Neil Hamilton.

Jan. 5, 2021, Mystery Photo

For Tuesday, we also have this mysterious gentleman. He does not approve of such goings-on.

Update: This is the frolicsome Lennox Pawle.

Brain Trust roll call: Anne Papineau (Monday’s mystery woman), Benito (Monday’s mystery woman), Robert Morrissey (Monday’s mystery woman), Bob Hansen (Monday’s mystery woman), Sheila (Monday’s mystery woman) and Mike Hawks (Monday’s mystery woman).

Jan. 6, 2021, Mystery Photo

For “Hm Wednesday,” we have this mystery gent. His companions have been cropped out due to insufficient mysteriousness and will appear Friday.

Updating for Friday to add our mysterious leading lady.

Update: This is Helen Hayes as the unwed mom spurning Alan Hale, who is willing to marry her as a favor to her father but does NOT want her baby.

Jan. 6, 2021, Mystery Photo

Also for “Hm Wednesday,” we have this mystery couple. The leading lady has been cropped out due to insufficient mysteriousness and will appear Friday.

Updating for Friday to add our mysterious leading lady.

Update: This is Helen Hayes, now the kept woman, with Marie Prevost and Cliff Edwards.

Brain Trust roll call: Jenny M. (mystery movie and all mystery guests), Howard Mandelbaum (mystery movie, Monday’s mystery woman and Tuesday’s mysterious wealthy art collector), Patrick (Tuesday’s mysterious landlord), Mike Hawks (mystery movie and Tuesday’s mystery guests), Anne Papineau (mystery movie and Tuesday’s mysterious wealthy art collector), Mary Mallory (Monday’s mystery woman), Megan and Thom (Monday’s mystery woman), Blackwing Jenny (mystery movie and Tuesday’s mystery guests) and Sheila (Tuesday’s mysterious wealthy art collector).

Jan. 7, 2021, Mystery Photo

For “Aha Thursday,” we have this mystery youth. Also mystery Back of the Head Leading Lady.

Update: This is Frankie Darro as the young Lawrence Claudet.

Jan. 7, 2021, Mystery Photo

Also for “Aha Thursday,” this somewhat mysterious gent. He does not approve of what’s about to happen.

Update: This is Lewis Stone as the rogue man about town in the role played on Broadway by Frank Morgan.

Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (mystery movie, Tuesday’s mystery landlord, Wednesday’s mystery guests), Megan and Thom (mystery movie and Wednesday’s mystery suitor), Sylvia E. (mystery movie, Wednesday’s mystery suitor and mystery horseracing addict, and mystery cast), Howard Mandelbaum (Tuesday’s mystery landlord and Wednesday’s mystery guests), Funky PhD (Wednesday’s mystery suitor), David Inman (Wednesday’s mystery suitor and mystery horseracing addict), Mike Hawks (Wednesday’s mystery guests and mystery elbow), Dan Nather (mystery movie and all mystery guests, plus those cropped out due to insufficient mysteriousness), Sheila (mystery movie and Wednesday’s mystery guests), Patrick (mystery movie and all mystery guests), Benito (mystery movie and Wednesday’s mystery suitor), Anne Papineau (Wednesday’s mystery guests) and  Tucson Barbara (Wednesday’s mystery suitor).

Bonus points to Dan Nather for consulting the DVD.

Jan. 8, 2021, Mystery photo
For Friday, we have this mystery gent.

Update: Robert Young as Dr. Lawrence Claudet.

Jan. 8, 2021, Mystery Photo
Here’s our mysterious leading lady. Also a mystery cad.

Update: This is Neil Hamilton as the first in a series of caddish men, with young, innocent Helen Hayes.

Jan. 8, 2021, Mystery Photo
And here….

Dumped, unwed mom Helen Hayes about to hook up with Lewis Stone.

Jan. 8, 2021, Mystery Photo
A bit worse for wear here.

Update: Streetwalker Helen Hayes.

Jan. 8, 2021, Mystery Photo

And here’s our mysterious leading lady, aged significantly at the end of the mystery film.

Update: And finally, frail, old Helen Hayes, who doesn’t want Robert Young to figure out that she’s his mother.

Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (added mystery guests, mysterious wealthy art collector, Thursday’s mystery youth, Back of the Head Leading Lady and mysterious rogue), Tucson Barbara (Thursday’s mystery guests), Floyd Thursby (mystery movie, Wednesday’s mystery suitor and mystery horseracing addict and Thursday’s mystery rogue), Howard Mandelbaum (Thursday’s mystery guests), Anne Papineau (Monday’s unveiled mystery guest and Thursday’s mystery guests),  Dan Nather (Thursday’s mystery guests), Mike Hawks (Monday’s and Tuesday’s mystery unveiled guests and Thursday’s mystery guests), Gary (Wednesday’s mystery suitor and Thursday’s mystery rogue) and L.C. (mystery movie and mystery cast).

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1931, Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo, Stage and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

58 Responses to Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

  1. Anne Papineau says:

    Karen Morley

    Like

  2. Benito says:

    Karen Morley. Know her from GABRIEL OVER THE WHITE HOUSE 1933, a movie that deserves more attention

    Like

  3. Robert Morrissey says:

    Is this not Karen Morley? Not her usual make-up, I think.

    Like

  4. Howard Mandelbaum says:

    Doris Kenyon.

    Like

  5. Bob Hansen says:

    Is it Karen Morley? Don’t know the movie.

    Like

  6. Jenny M says:

    Isobel Elsom

    Like

  7. Sheila says:

    Karen Morley?

    Like

  8. Mary Mallory says:

    Doris Nolan.

    Like

  9. mike hawks says:

    This could be Karen Morley’s sister or stand-in.

    Like

  10. Jenny M says:

    Movie: The Sin of Madelon Claudet

    Monday: Karen Morley

    Tuesday: Gus Leonard and Lennox Pawle.

    Like

  11. Howard Mandelbaum says:

    Monday: Karen Morley in THE SIN OF MADELON CLAUDET (1931)
    Tuesday: Lennox Pawle

    Like

  12. Patrick says:

    Gus Leonard on Tuesday

    Like

  13. mike hawks says:

    Gus Leonard and Lennox Pawle in THE SIN OF MADELYN CLAUDET.

    Like

  14. Gary says:

    She certainly looks like the young Gladys George. But on Monday?

    Like

  15. Anne Papineau says:

    Lennox Pawle in “The Sin of Madelon Claudet”

    Like

  16. Mary Mallory says:

    Pulling a fast one. DAYBREAK with Karen Morley yesterday and Lionel Belmore today.

    Like

  17. Mary Mallory says:

    Thru Different Eyes. Karen Morley Monday and Arthur Stone today.

    Like

  18. Megan and Thom says:

    Karen Morley was yesterday’s guest.

    Like

  19. Tuesday’s first gent is one of my favorites, Gus Leonard, and the second looks an awful lot like Lennox Pawle. At first glance I thought the lady with the lovely early-thirties hat was Helen Hayes but I didn’t think the star would make a Monday appearance…but Gus & Pawle are both in Sin of Madelon Claudet, so…maybe?

    Like

  20. sheila says:

    Lennox Pawle for Tuesday.

    Like

  21. Mary Mallory says:

    THE SIN OF MADELON CLAUDET. Gus Leonard and Charles Winninger Tuesday, Alan Hale, Cliff Edwards, and Marie Prevost today.

    Like

  22. Megan and Thom says:

    Our first mystery guest is Alan Hale Sr., and our movie is The Sin of Madelon Claudet.

    Like

  23. Sylvia E. says:

    Weds – I think two of the cast members are Alan Hale and Cliff Edwards. Is the movie ‘The Sin of Madelon Claudet’ 1931?

    Like

  24. Howard Mandelbaum says:

    Tuesday: Gus Leonard
    Wednesday: Alan Hale; Gus Edwards, Marie Prevost

    Like

  25. FunkyPhD says:

    Wednesday’s mystery gent: Alan Hale

    Like

  26. David Inman says:

    Alan Hale today, and maybe Cliff “Ukulele Ike” Edwards?

    Like

  27. mike hawks says:

    Alan Hale, Marie Prevost, Cliff Edwards and Helen Hayes elbow.

    Like

  28. Dan Nather says:

    Got it! Had to look at the DVD . . .

    THE SIN OF MADELON CLAUDET (1931)
    Monday — Karen Morley (Jean Hersholt is cropped out)
    Tuesday — Gus Leonard (?) (Neil Hamilton cropped out), Lennox Paule
    Wednesday — Alan Hale, Marie Prevost and Cliff Edwards

    Like

  29. Sheila says:

    Alan Hale, Marie Prevost, Cliff Edwards, ‘The Sin of Madelon Claudet’

    Like

  30. Patrick says:

    Karen Morley, Gus Leonard, Lennox Pawle, Alan Hale, Marie Prevost, Cliff Edwards. The Sin of Madelon Claudet – 1931

    Like

  31. Benito says:

    Alan Hale and fuddy duddies today

    Like

  32. Benito says:

    Guessing its THE SIN OF MADELON CLAUDET 1931, a pre Code weepy

    Like

  33. Anne Papineau says:

    On Wednesday, Alan Hale, Marie Prevost and Cliff Edwards.

    Like

  34. Sylvia E. says:

    Woo-hoo!!! Helen Hayes, Lewis Stone, Neil Hamilton, Robert Young
    I’ll find more.

    Like

  35. tucsonbarbara says:

    The original Alan Hale

    Like

  36. Sylvia E. says:

    Jean Hersholt, Marie Prevost, Frankie Darro, Charles Winninger, Neil Hamilton, Karen Morley

    I’m looking forward to your Saturday breakdown.

    Like

  37. Mary Mallory says:

    Jean Hersholt and Neil Hamilton Monday and Tuesday, Frankie Darro and BOTH Helen Hayes and Lewis Stone. Lennox Pawle on Tuesday.

    Like

  38. tucsonbarbara says:

    “The Sin of Madelon Claudet”

    Frankie Darro, Helen Hayes, Lewis Stone

    Like

  39. Floyd Thursby says:

    For Wednesday we have Alan Hale and Cliff Edwards while for Thursday we have Lewis Stone. The movie is “The Sin of Madelon Claudet.”

    Like

  40. Howard Mandelbaum says:

    Frankie Darro, Helen Hayes; Lewis Stone.

    Like

  41. Anne Papineau says:

    Frankie Darro and Lewis Stone on Thursday

    Like

  42. Anne Papineau says:

    Oh, and Mr. Jean Hersholt

    Like

  43. Dan Nather says:

    For Thursday, it’s Frankie Darro, Helen Hayes as BotH Leading Lady, and the ever-popular and practically ubiquitous (at MGM, anyway) Lewis Stone.

    Like

  44. mike hawks says:

    Jean Hersholt, Neil Hamilton, Frankie Darro, Helen Hayes and Lewis Stone.

    Like

  45. Gary says:

    I have Alan Hale Jr. and Lewis Stonne. I am thinking of a title…nothing yet.Hmmm.

    Like

  46. LC says:

    The Sin of Madelon Claudet (1931) Helen Hayes, Karen Morley, Frankie Darro, Lewis Stone, Robert Young, Jean Hersholt, Alan Hale, Neil Hamilton…

    Like

  47. Mary Mallory says:

    Helen Hayes popping up Wednesday and Thursday, and then Robert Young, Neil Hamilton, and she torday.

    Like

  48. Howard Mandelbaum says:

    Robert Young; Neil Hamilton & Helen Hayes.

    Like

  49. Howard Mandelbaum says:

    And Jean Hersholt & Russ Powell.

    Like

  50. tucsonbarbara says:

    Neil Hamilton, Helen Hayes

    Like

  51. Gary says:

    The Sin of Madelon Claudet with you know who!

    Like

  52. Mike Hawks says:

    Robert Young, Neil Hamilton and the many faces of Helen Hayes.

    Like

  53. Dan Nather says:

    Robert Young in his second movie, and he’s a doctor already!

    Plus Helen Hayes in her Oscar-winning star turn. She makes this movie really hard to watch sometimes — and that’s a compliment.

    Like

  54. Benito says:

    Who could foresee that her son would nuke a Russian sub in the North Atlantic 34 years later?

    Like

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