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Despite being both Mamoulian's debut for the cinema and a very early talkie, this deeply affecting tale of Stella Dallas-style maternal self-sacrifice transcends its sentimental shortcomings through the fluency of direction that was to become Mamoulian's trademark. As Helen Morgan's ageing burlesque queen steadily progresses towards giving up everything - even her life - for her convent-educated daughter (Peers), Mamoulian pulls out all the stops, employing unusually mobile expressionist camerawork to convey a wealth of detail in his portrait of the seedy backstage realities of the vaudeville world. Pacy, concise and innovative, the film also benefits from a truly magnificent performance from torch-singer Morgan.

By: GA

Release details

Duration: 85 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Rouben Mamoulian
Screenwriter: Garrett Fort
Cast: Helen Morgan
Joan Peers
Fuller Mellish Jr
Henry Wadsworth
Jack Cameron
Dorothy Cumming
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