The Sin of Madelon Claudet

The Sin of Madelon Claudet

The Sin of Madelon Claudet is a 1931 American pre-Code drama film directed by Edgar Selwyn and starring Helen Hayes. The screenplay by Charles MacArthur and Ben Hecht was adapted from the play The Lullaby by Edward Knoblock. It tells the story of a wrongly imprisoned woman who turns to theft and prostitution in order to support her son.


When neglected wife Alice (Karen Morley) decides to leave her doctor husband Lawrence (Robert Young), his friend Dr. Dulac (Jean Hersholt) stops her and tells her the life story of another woman, the French Madelon Claudet (born May 7, 1878) (Helen Hayes), who was persuaded by her American boyfriend, artist Larry Maynard (Neil Hamilton), to run away with him. Eventually, he has to return to the U.S. because his father is sick. Once there however, he betrays her and marries a woman whom his parents approve of. Unbeknownst to him, Madelon gives birth to a son. When her lover does not come back, her father (Russ Powell) gets her to agree to marry Hubert (Alan Hale), a farmer. However, when she refuses to give up her illegitimate son, Hubert and her father abandon her. She becomes the mistress of an older acquaintance, Count Carlo Boretti (Lewis Stone), while her friends Rosalie (Marie Prevost) and Victor Lebeau (Cliff Edwards) care for the boy. After a while, Carlo proposes marriage and Madelon accepts. However, when they go out to celebrate, he is arrested as a jewel thief. He manages to commit suicide, but Madelon is sentenced to ten years in prison as his accomplice, even though she is innocent.