- 1h 30m
The trial and tribulations of a strong-willed woman who elopes and gives birth out of wedlock without telling her ex-husband.The trial and tribulations of a strong-willed woman who elopes and gives birth out of wedlock without telling her ex-husband.The trial and tribulations of a strong-willed woman who elopes and gives birth out of wedlock without telling her ex-husband.
Gloria, Your Magic Spell...
None of us should pretend that THE TRESPASSER isn't now, 82 years after its time, incredibly creaky. It is. But it's also, for a 1929 talkie, darned well made, with any number of clever cinematic touches and, unlike most 1929 dramas, a well-done musical score. Just contrast it with the other big 1929 woman's picture, the arid and primitive MADAME X, made a few months earlier. Obviously a number of modern viewers won't make the necessary allowances, as some of the other reviews here show. It isn't always easy to view an early talkie sympathetically, especially when The Marx Bros. aren't involved. But if TRESPASSER is trite in many ways, and relies on at least one outlandish coincidence, it should be seen, still, as a phenomenally astute way to introduce one of the biggest silent stars to sound film. It's fascinating to watch Swanson feeling her way into the talkies. Sometimes she's perfectly naturalistic, other times she declaims like an old-school stage star, and sometimes her silent-movie roots show very clearly with some too- grand gestures. In her best sound film performances, MUSIC IN THE AIR and, of course, SUNSET BOULEVARD, she used aspects of the old over-the- top silent style to great effect; here, not playing a grandiose diva, she can seem more self-conscious about the whole thing. But, more than anything else, she's an first-rate trouper, working hard to give an adoring public every bit of its money's worth. And she obviously worked very well with director/writer Edmund Goulding, who she helped (and also with Laura Hope Crews) to put together this autobiographically-tinged soap opera. (Gloria as the mistress of a tycoon? See the very first frames of the credits : "Joseph P. Kennedy Presents...") And though her singing isn't necessarily presented in a subtle way, it's terrific. Audiences in 1929 were bowled over to find out that she could sing as well (or even better) than she could talk, and it's easy to see why. Note, too, that she clears her throat before starting "Love, Your Spell is Everywhere," proving that she was doing it live on the set. Her performance of Toselli's Serenade is lovely too, especially the way Goulding has her singing off camera before entering, still singing, in a drop-dead gown. It's just too bad that both performances are somewhat truncated, unlike the commercial recordings she made of them. We shouldn't expect THE TRESPASSER to be seen, today, as anything other than a museum piece. Too many of its dramatics are too unsubtle or rudimentary for it to work without some necessary caveats. But as an antique, and a small, authentic piece of film (and political!) history, it's extremely engaging, as crafted by an intelligent and resourceful director for a still-brilliant, one-of-a-kind star.
- Dec 17, 2011
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