A worn-out “gun-slinging hooker” is tried for murder and is nice enough to not tell her defense lawyer, “By the way, I’m your mother.”
That’s the tear-duct-tickling plot of Madame X, the Gerard Alessandrini and Robert Hetzel entry at the New York Musical Theatre Festival, which proves to be an affectionate rendition of the tale, with comic flourishes mixed into the compassion.
At the show, I asked Alessandrini how many Madame X movies there have been.
“Nine!” he responded.
“There was the Ruth Chatterton one, which strangely ended with her in Hawaii.
“And the Tuesday Weld version, where they changed the son to a daughter, and Eleanor Parker played Tuesday’s mother-in-law.”
Alessandrini’s favorite of all is the 1937 one with Gladys George, but my personal fave is the Lana Turner version, which redefines plush ’60s soaper for all time.
Lana’s totally believable as a wanton woman — no, I swear — and she wrenches your heart with her self-sacrificing shtick at the end until you want to scream at Keir Dullea, “She’s your mother!”
But then again, I never saw the Swedish porn version.
Oh, yeah, there was a Swedish porno version!