GOOSE WOMAN, THE(director: Clarence Brown; screenwriters: from the story by Rex Beach/Melville W. Brown; cinematographer: Milton Moore; editor: Ray F. Curtiss; cast: Louise Dresser (Marie de Nardi/Mary Holmes), Jack Pickford (Gerald Holmes), Constance Bennett (Hazel Woods), James O. Barrows (Jacob Riggs); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; Universal; 1925-silent)
“Only mildly interesting as a tearjerker.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Clarence Brown (“Intruder in the Dust”) is the director of this bw silent, based on a story by Rex Beach and written by Melville W. Brown. The Goose Woman was inspired by the Hall-Mills murder case, where testimony from a woman known as the “Pig Woman” resulted in a conviction.
Louise Dresser is in the title role of Marie du Nard, a famous opera diva who loses her voice after giving birth to an illegitimate son from an older man and can’t live down the scandal. She soon takes to drink and returns to her hometown under her real name Mary Holmes and lives as a ‘goose woman’ in a drunken squalor, deeply resenting her son for ruining her life. A murder takes place near her farm, and she lies to the prosecutor about what she witnessed in order to get publicity and restart her career. However, she’s caught offguard as this results in her innocent son (Jack Pickford) being charged with the murder.
It’s interesting as a character study but only mildly interesting as a tearjerker melodrama, as the film becomes heavy-handed and languid even though Dresser gives a forceful performance and makes the film watchable.
REVIEWED ON 3/26/2004 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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