6.6/10
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The Trespasser (1929)

The trial and tribulations of a strong-willed woman who elopes and gives birth out of wedlock without telling her ex-husband.

Director:

Edmund Goulding

Writer:

Edmund Goulding
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview:
Gloria Swanson ... Marion Donnell
Robert Ames ... Jack Merrick
Purnell Pratt ... Hector Ferguson
Henry B. Walthall ... Fuller
Wally Albright ... Jack Merrick (as Wally Albright Jr.)
William Holden William Holden ... John Merrick, Sr.
Blanche Friderici ... Miss Potter - Nurse (as Blanche Frederici)
Kay Hammond ... Catherine 'Flip' Merrick
Mary Forbes ... Mrs. Ferguson
Marcelle Corday ... Blanche - the Maid
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Storyline

A stenographer who works for a lawyer falls in love with and marries a wealthy young man. His family has the marraige annulled, after which she gives birth to a child. Her former boss helps her out to ensure the child's welfare, which starts gossip that she is a "kept woman." Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The screen's foremost dramatic actress in her finest effort! See more »

Genres:

Drama

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

11 November 1929 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Amor que peca See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$725,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Gloria Productions See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

With her second best actress Oscar nomination, Gloria Swanson became the first star to be nominated in two different years, previously nominated for Sadie Thompson (1928). See more »

Quotes

John Merrick, Sr.: Oh, he's nothing but a kid and this woman has swept him off his feet. When the times comes for him to marry, he'll marry to Josh Carton's daughter and he'll like it.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Shot simultaniously in silent and sound versions. See more »

Connections

Remade as That Certain Woman (1937) See more »

Soundtracks

Serenade
(uncredited)
Music by Enrico Toselli
English Lyric by Sigmund Spaeth
Performed by Gloria Swanson
See more »

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User Reviews

 
What a disappointment
29 October 2008 | by Igenlode WordsmithSee all my reviews

Ouch.

In her autobiography, Gloria Swanson recalls this film as a glorious success amidst a run of relative failure -- critically acclaimed, financially profitable ('my cheapest picture since I became a star,' she reminisces proudly), and responsible for winning her an Oscar nomination. For my part, I probably wouldn't resent it quite so much if I hadn't had to fork out seventeen pounds for the humiliating privilege of sitting through such absolute tosh in the company of a guest to whom I'd recommended the film on the basis of Miss Swanson's estimation of her own performance...

The plot is pure Mills & Boon; outlandish coincidences, improbable motivations, bosom-heaving and fainting, and characters killed and injured at a flick of a coin for the sake of the plot. Characterisation is paper-thin, compensated for by a wealth of over-emoting; the dialogue is pretty bad and, alas, the delivery is worse -- huge slices of ham all round, with Miss Swanson perhaps the most flagrant offender. This film wouldn't know 'subtle' if it were hit over the head with it, yet somehow it contrives to be both wildly outlandish and tediously predictable. Long before the end I was counting the minutes -- 'oh no, not another reel'.

Gloria Swanson is really a little too old for her role here, and slips at times into the grotesque, overplaying her facial expressions and employing a throbbing, artificial vocal delivery that -- the inevitable comparison has to be made -- is all too reminiscent of her caricature act in "Sunset Boulevard" . Robert Ames is fairly wooden, while William Holden as his father pulls out all the stops to deliver a performance reminiscent of Germont senior in "La Traviata": indeed, the whole thing has something of the (soap) operatic about it. Kay Hammond is winsome and -- especially in her first scene -- wince-making as 'poor little Flip'; Blanche Friderici provides a Cockney nurse worthy of Dick Van Dyke, and all in all the best performance is turned in by Wally Albright Jr as the unselfconscious three-year-old.

The only parts of the dialogue which really rang true to me were the early office scenes and the scene with the reporters. The film was billed as a 'pre-Code' production, but fits the bill solely inasmuch as it alludes to illegitimacy (carefully avoided) and the status of a kept woman; it has nothing of the hard-boiled wisecracks and street realism of early sound productions such as "Virtue" (1932 -- Carole Lombard is a prostitute trying to go straight) or "Baby Face" (1933 -- Barbara Stanwyck sleeps her way to the top of a corporation). One gets the impression that the scriptwriters were out of their social and emotional depth with this material.

Original audiences were said to have tears pouring down their faces at the conclusion of the film, which I won't here give away. I'm afraid that the only discernible response from this audience was waves of giggles, and while I wasn't one of the offenders I could see only too clearly the cause. It's possible for a film and actors to pull off the most preposterous of plots and/or dialogue, but unfortunately this production fails to convince on almost all levels.

"Beyond the Rocks", the Rudolph Valentino/Gloria Swanson rediscovery that featured largely in an earlier London Film festival, sported a similarly extravagant plot but had at least a smidgeon of emotional depth to the characters -- it also has the inestimable advantage of silence. I'm afraid that to my eyes (and ears!) "The Trespasser" turns out to embody almost all the urban legends about silent-screen stars stuck on a sound-stage and required to talk; the writers don't know how to produce credible dialogue and the performers don't know how to deliver it.

Early talkies -- and even part-talkies -- can be good. Sadly, this isn't one of them.


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