This is Lionel Barrymore’s first full-length directorial effort on a talker. Taking X as an actor-proof meller and conceding its author, the Frenchman Alexandre Bisson, knew emotion well enough to make it do somersaults in this tale, Barrymore had no difficult job with the story and cast.
But Barrymore excels in the minor bits and roles: the above-par park scene; the immensely human bit in the hotel’s corridor with the landlord wanting his room rent from the besotted Jacqueline (Ruth Chatterton); or the superb scene wholly dominated by the doctor (John P. Edington).
The two big moments are Jacqueline killing her small-time blackmailing companion to prevent her son discovering what a horror his mother has become; the other the famous trial scene, the grand finale which made Madame X on the stage.
Chatterton has not a flaw in her performance or make up. Next to Chatterton and Edington comes Raymond Hackett as the son.
1928/29: Nominations: Best Director, Actress (Ruth Chatterton)