Streaming Saturdays! THE TRESPASSER Heralds Gloria Swanson’s Sound Debut
Welcome to another edition of Streaming Saturdays, where we embed a free, fun movie for you to watch right here!
This week, Gloria Swanson in the groundbreaking role that netted her an Oscar nod! I’m talking of course, about The Trespasser.
Originally released as a silent, the film was such a smash that writer-director Edmund Goulding reshot it in sound, marking the first time moviegoers would hear Gloria’s lovely, lilting voice.
When we first meet Marion Donnell (Swanson), she’s flitting around the office, scampering in and out of her boss’s suite with her steno pad. Sure, she likes the old boy well enough, but he wants all these niggling little revisions! (As she loiters behind him impatiently, she mimics him with the kind of pantomime she used lavishly in silents and impishly revived in Sunset Boulevard). And she’s eager to leave for the day—in fact for good—to elope with her fiance, Jack Merrick (Robert Ames), scion of the town’s wealthiest tycoon (William Holden—no, not that one—who, you guessed it, is going to be big trouble for poor Marion).
When I say the plot thickens, I mean we’re talking quicksand here. Accusing Marion of fortune-hunting, Jack’s father tries to get the marriage annulled, and honestly Jack is a bit of a simp about the whole thing. A fed-up Marion finally storms out—later giving birth to their son, whom she provides for in decidedly pre-Code fashion. But wait—there’s more! A lot more! But half the fun is in finding out, so I’ll leave things there.
If the plot of The Trespasser sounds familiar to you, it could be because Goulding went on to remake (and sanitize) the film as That Certain Woman, pairing Bette Davis and Henry Fonda a year before their equally fraught romance in Jezebel. (It could also be because in the long history of film, pretty much every plucky working girl who marries a rich boy is set upon by one or both of his beastly parents.)
Goulding would go on to direct a slew of classics, including Dark Victory, The Old Maid, The Great Lie, The Constant Nymph, The Razor’s Edge, and Nightmare Alley.
But after an astonishing career in silents, Swanson would make just one more hit film, in 1950, with a director who’d been spellbound by her as a young writer at Paramount and never forgot her.
Now, let’s sit back and see why Billy Wilder fell so hard.
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- Posted in: classic film ♦ Streaming Saturdays!
- Tagged: bette davis, billy wilder, dark victory, edmund goulding, Gloria Swanson, jezebel, nightmare alley, robert ames, sunset boulevard, that certain woman, the constant nymph, the great lie, the old maid, the razor's edge, the trespasser, william holden