- Acting of Lead Performers
- Acting of Supporting Cast
- Music Score
- Title Sequence
- Historical Importance
- Would You Recommend?
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Exotic Role for Bette Davis
Madame Sin is a mastermind criminal who is quite exotic to look at for a senior woman. Bette Davis is made up to look like Gale Sondergaard did in "The Letter." Robert Wagner becomes her hostage upon which she and her lab full of scientists perform acts of mind control. Wagner is to steal a US submarine for Madame Sin to sell to another country. She's in the racket for the money. But there's a part of Madame Sin that is ever so sadistic. In other words, like all sadists, she enjoys inflicting pain upon others. Davis plays the role to the hilt.
Davis' TV & Science Fiction Debut
(at least I think the Sci-Fi is a 1st). The film's genres intermingle. It's an espionage crime drama that involves science fiction with a touch of fantasy. What to call this mix? Bette Davis is the powerful title character known only as Madame Sin. The 1st very atypical point to note is Davis' make up is very eccentric (and looks smashing on her!). Next are her lavish costumes, gowns that are regal, jewelry that's expensive. These are not things Bette Davis liked doing so that's the dead give away that the film's going to go in and out of being realistic. Davis is never going to play Madame Sin as anyone but an major mastermind who's oppulent & overly confident, who has no desire to be part of society. She drags Robert Wagner into her scientific lab-hide away, in order to convince him, using experimental mind altering techniques, to steal a US submarine so she can sell it. That's her business: mega heists. I love this film because Davis leaps miles away from everycharacter she's played oh so well.
Very Cool Change of Genre for Davis
It's kind of interesting to consider exactly what genre this made for TV movie is. A good deal of it is science fiction. Part of it is like a crime drama. Still there's a fantasy quality to it. It's the 1st TV movie Bette Davis made. It could have been a pilot movie for a TV series if someone had thought about that. Bette Davis is almost like a comic book character. She steps miles away from anything she'd ever played in before to become the title character, "Madame Sin." She's a masterminded big dollar, international criminal. Robert Wagner plays a former secret agent who Madame Sin's operatives kidnap. Madame Sin's scientific lab team invents weapons to do things like mind control or remove people's memories. Davis' make up is very heavy to an exotic extreme. She's supposed to be eccentric and does a great job of performing this type of fantastical role.Wagner also does a good job in his role as a more ordinary guy who's caught up in Madame Sin's web. I find this movie very entertaining.
Bette Davis' TV Debut
Robert Wagner becomes the exec. producer of Bette Davis' 1st television movie and it's a doozey. Davis is made up to look as mysterious as Gale Sondergaard did in "The Letter." She's a mastermind in a futuristic scientific lab who has Robert Wagner kidnapped and programmed to steal of US submarine. The film's a bit sci-fi, a bit fantasy with quite a bit suspense. The setting is fabulous for a made-for-TV movie. The plot is terrific for a sci-fi mastermind type. Bette Davis proves once again that she's one of the 20th century's most versatile, flexible and character actors. Madame Sin stays in your mind as an image that's unforgettable. Davis plays her age, as usual, no pretentiousness about it. Her costumes are lovely long and becoming gowns that make her look quite regal. Wagner is young, handsome, a very bright actor who can hold his own with Bette Davis. In one scene she is an older woman being somewhat flirtatious with him. It's truly a very provocative moment in the film. Wagner's and Davis' interactions are the best.
Love Bette Davis' Makeup and Costumes
I can't watch this film too many times. It's part sci-fi, part fantasy, part crime drama all in one. Bette Davis and Robert Wagner are a great on-screen acting match. There's an ever so subtle older woman-younger man hint of attraction between them that's nearly intoxicating to watch. When Bette Davis pours herself into a character every pore of her becomes that character. As Madame sin she's madeup to the exotic extreme and it looks great on her. Her costumes are beautiful long flowing dresses of a wealthy eccentric crime boss. Wagner (Tony) plays his role as her captive quite well. The VHS is in color so we get to see those beautiful Bette Davis blue eyes with accentuating makeup. This more of a fun film, but it does deal with espionage, torture and murder in a secondary way.
Shades of Gale Sondergaard
TCM aired "The Letter" today & I watched it for the umteenth time. It's usual for me to notice sometime I hadn't before, since the film flies by. Here's what I noticed: Bette Davis' Madame Sin is quite a bit like Gale Sondergaard's character in "The Letter." Davis' appearance's altered by heavy, exotic make-up that nearly seems ethnically different. Madame Sin's costumes are long flowing, feminine finery made of lots of fabric. Her mannerisms are of a woman who's in full command of each moment. When interacting with Robert Wagner, Madame Sin's mesmerizing and seductive regardless that he's much younger than she is at 63yo. She's mysterious enough to leave wonder about what she's hiding. Madame Sin's elegant, evil and futuristic. The film teeters on the genres of science fiction, fantasy & crime.
Bette Davis' an exotic mastermind
It's real interesting to watch Bette Davis looking extremely exotic, mainly due to make up and cosumes, while playing the part of a high tech mastermind of considerable wealth. Her scientifically engineered arms are used by members of her criminal team to kidnap Robert Wagner, an international agent who has the kind of influence Madame Sin needs to carry out her next plan: stealing then selling a nuclear submarine. Madame Sin's headquarters is on an isolated island. It's a scientific research center experimenting with various types of high powered technology that will be used to enable thme to carry out the crimes Madame Sin designs. Davis proves she's brilliant in this type of role. Wagner and she made a super acting duo with screen chemistry.
The Relationship Between Davis & Wagner
Seated next to Miss Davis, while she was making history in 1977 becoming the 1st woman honored by the AFI for her Lifetime Achievements, is Robert Wagner. On the board of the Bette Davis Foundation sits Robert Wagner. As Madame Sin, Bette Davis' affection for Robert Wagner shines through the facade of a sinister mastermind. Acting together in many scenes during this film they are dynamic. Davis is decked out exotically to go with the bizzare role. It's fun to see her way over made up. It's actually becoming. What's better's how Madame Sin's so seductive with Robert Wagner.
Designing Actor in Designer Fashions
By the time Bette Davis was 60yo. TV had become a most accessible means to reach the masses. To her credit, Davis adapted by making movies for TV. "Madame Sin" is 1 of her 1st stunners of the 1970's; the beginning of a score of years making TV movies. Admittedly overwhelmed by her versatility as Davis takes the title role of the sinister leader of a scientific crime base, it's amazing to see her avoid being type cast by age as Madame Sin. Heavily made up to an exotic extreme, wearing elaborate, avant-garde costumes, coming on to a man half her age by acting her age, she's wiley.
Flirting with Robert Wagner
I do own the home videos (3) of "Madame Sin." So I've viewed it & reviewed it numerous times. Each time I provide a review I find something new to say about Bette Davis' performance as Madame Sin. First, I love her make-up and costumes. That stands out immediately. But my very favorite part is when Bette Davis is flirting with Robert Wagner. The older Madame sin, who once loved his father, flirting with a man who's nearly being held captive inside her elaborate scientific crime estate. That scene is classic since Wagner & Davis were such close friends.