A famous opera singer lost her voice when her son was born, and has drowned her sorrows in drink. When a murder is committed near her house, she invents a story in order to get herself back... See full summary »
A quaint story of a once famous opera diva now reduced to tending livestock out of a tumble-down shack, The Goose Woman plays better on the page than on the screen -- but Louise Dresser in the title role is fantastic. The primary themes of mother-love and redemption take precious sweet time to manifest dramatically, but the film's central relationship between Dresser's Mary Holmes and her occasionally vapid but generally well-meaning son Gerald (played by Jack Pickford) is ignited by the knowledge that Holmes (previously known by the more appropriately grandiose moniker of Marie de Nardi) gave up her singing career due to a scandalous pregnancy that resulted in the illegitimate birth of her son. The bitter woman resents her offspring passionately (in one standout scene, he accidentally destroys the only existent recording of his mother's voice -- a painful and poignant moment that resonates with symbolic subtext) but must come to her senses when her own flights of fancy implicate him in a murder he did not commit. Dresser, who is given a transmogrifying makeover midway through the proceedings, has a delicious role into which she can sink her teeth, but the sluggish pacing of the action and the obviousness of the outcome add up to a pretty mixed bag.