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The Weep That Was

Stuart Bailie | 20:12 UK time, Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Every Saturday afternoon, my aunts would all gather down at their mother's house to get social and to watch the afternoon matinee on TV. Often these monocrome films would feature pouting divas like Betty Davis, Greta Garbo or Gloria Graham - lit to perfection and glowing through the tragic stories. And sure enough at the closing reel, it would turn heroically wrong and my aunts would weep in unison.

I've long forgotten most of the films, although I believe 'Madame X' was one of the most reliable tear-jerkers. But the one that still haunts me was about a family who lose their father and then their mother. The oldest child has to honour a deathbed promise to walk through the snow on Christmas Eve, knocking on doors, giving away her siblings to old matrons with a spot of kindness. At the very end, it's just the one kid, trying to hand herself over. Let me tell you, there were torrents on Hornby Street. Even I cried. Anyone remember the name of the film?

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