Holly Parker (Lana Turner) marries a wealthy socialite, much to the disapproval of his mother, Estelle (Constance Bennett). Holly is compromised by the accidental death of a man who had been romantically pursuing her, and is forced by her mother-in-law to leave and assume a new identity to save the reputation of her husband and infant son. She wanders the world, trying to forget her heartbreak with the aid of alcohol and unsavory men, eventually returning to the city of her downfall, where she murders a blackmailer who threatens to expose her past. At her trial she is represented, unknowingly, by her now adult son, who is a public defender. Hoping to continue to protect her son, she refuses to give her real name and is known to the court as the defendant, ‘Madame X’.
At forty-five, Lana Turner was probably only some five years younger than Holly was meant to be at her trial, though Holly had obviously aged harder; Lana, herself, however was beyond the point where she could convincingly portray a young bride. Constance Bennett, in her last role, was sixty, and much more convincingly portrayed Estelle in her forties and seventies; Estelle’s screen-age at the beginning of the movie was probably pretty close to Lana’s actual age.
Bud Westmore was the makeup artist; Del Armstrong was Lana Turner’s makeup artist.