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  • 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.
  • Well Kevin Brownlow was right again.... this is an excellent film with a magnificent performance by Louise Dresser as the goose woman, a once-famous opera singer who is forced to retire from public life. She lives on a filthy, and I mean FILTHY, goose farm and is estranged from her son (Jack Pickford) who is in love with a young actress (Constance Bennett). When a murder occurs near the goose farm, Dresser tells the police what she witnessed (but did she?) in order to see her name in the headlines once again. She's not a reliable witness but gets a major makeover and revels in her new fame until the murder case goes wrong.

    Dresser is best remembered for playing Catherine the Great in Valentino's THE EAGLE.
  • I saw this film at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival last summer and it was simply great. The print was clear and bright and the live piano accompaniment by Steven Horne was wonderful! Louise Dresser and Jack Pickford are both at the top of their games and this early glimpse of Constance Bennett is delightful; she's a great beauty. I decided to watch the movie again. I ordered it from Netflix which leads me to this writing. This particular release was by an outfit called Televista. The print was horrible and the music was so distracting I actually hit the mute button. I hope that a new DVD version of the restored print is released soon as this film is worthy of inclusion in any silent film collection. It is also worth noting that when The Goose Woman was screened at the SFSFF, Kevin Brownlow told the audience that this was the first silent film he discovered in a junk store as a youth and after watching it he said he thought that if there were other American films of this quality out there, it wouldn't be too much a task to dedicate one's life to finding them - which, of course, is what he's done. He also said that he used this film as an entrée to meeting Mary Pickford because she expressed an interest in seeing her brother Jack again. And subsequently we have Mr. Brownlow to thank for many fine works about Ms. Pickford. I would add one goof of interest to the antique car set. A title card tells us that Gerald Holmes (Jack Pickford) has just made the first payment on a new car (a Model T Ford laden with accessories). He displays a folder entitled "The Ford Weekly Payment Plan." This plan was actually a savings plan, not a time-installment plan. Delivery of the car was not made until all payments had been made. Not a big deal, but interesting that they got that wrong. Or maybe I'm just showing off a bit! Find a good print of The Goose Woman and you'll certainly enjoy it.
  • This is an excellent film and if a "clear and bright" copy exists, it deserves to be reissued. Even though some scenes of the Televista release are marred by "snow" and the entirety is less than sharp, the picture quality is tolerable. The musical score is a mixture of appropriate and inappropriate accompaniment and should be redone.

    I especially liked the scene where Dresser, now coiffed and dressed as a Grand Dame, ventures forth into a room of reporters and becomes the star she used to be. Clothes do make the woman. The makeover also has the magical effect of restoring her humanity and mother love. As for the ending, if you have tears, prepare to shed them now.

    Jack Pickford, oftentimes today slighted as an actor, is excellent, his performance subtle and moving. Jack looks great - no sign of dissipation from the alcohol he abused or drugs that he is supposed to have abused. In fact, with his Valentino face, it's easy to see why he was catnip to the ladies in real life. As for the other actors, they all give natural performances. It's a mistaken idea that silent film actors expressed themselves using exaggerated cartoon gestures. That type of acting ended when Jack's sister, Mary, rose to stardom in 1914.

    A favorite though uncredited actor is the pet goose. There's a charming scene of a determined Dresser marching down the road with the goose, equally determined to go along, waddling and running behind her. A welcome bit of gentle comedy relief.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Very scratchy and faded print at beginning interesting early intro screen from Universal Studios sad Jack Pickford--alcohol and syphilis Louise Dresser how could a child take away her voice? When the film first began, I was disappointed because the print was very faded and scratchy. Don't worry--it gets much better very quickly. The film finds an older lady living alone--a bitter drunk who has nothing particularly good within her. Years earlier, she lost her voice and had to leave the stage (where she had been a star) and, oddly, she blames her son (Jack Pickford) and sits about drinking and acting surly. She's nicknamed the Goose Woman because she keeps geese on her property.

    When a murder occurs near her home, reporters see her drunk and mention her quite negatively in the newspapers. She's angry--the truth hurts. However, instead of changing her ways, she decides to get positive press by pretending to be a witness to the crime. Amazingly, her descriptions end up implicating her estranged son! Is there any good left within this nasty old lady or is the son destined for prison? This is a fair film with nothing particularly outstanding about it--other than the performance of the old woman (Louise Dresser). She is appropriately expressive and subtle--something to admire when you find it in a silent film. Worth seeing just for her nice performance.

    By the way, Jack Pickford was the brother of Mary Pickford. Sadly, by the time talking pictures came along, alcoholism and syphilis had taken their toll and his career was all but dead. And, even worse, he died before he even reached 40.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Mother isn't quite herself today."

    Saturday July 16, 4pm, The Castro, San Francisco

    A bitter old woman drowns her sorrows in gin and recalls her career as a great opera singer that ended with the illegitimate birth of her child. Long forgotten, the great Marie de Nardi (Louise Dresser) is known as Mary Holmes, the "Goose Woman" to her village, until detectives discover her past while investigating a murder. In an attempt to regain her lost fame she fabricates an eyewitness account of the crime which implicates her son.

    Produced by Universal Pictures and directed by Clarence Brown, The Goose Woman (1925) begins as a beautifully stylized and modest character piece, but develops into a sensational morality play with a compelling performance by Miss Dresser as the title character. The supporting cast includes Gustav von Seyfertitz as Mr. Vogel, the States Attorney, Jack Pickford (inexplicably with top billing) as Mary's son Gerald Holmes and lovely young Constance Bennett as his fiancée Hazel Woods.