The Trespasser

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The Trespasser
Trespasser Poster.jpg
Film poster
Directed by Edmund Goulding
Produced by Joseph P. Kennedy
Written by Edmund Goulding
Starring Gloria Swanson
Robert Ames
Music by Josiah Zoro
Edmund Goulding (song "Love, Your Magic Spell Is Everywhere", Elsie Janis lyrics)
Cinematography George Barnes
Gregg Toland
Edited by Cyril Gardner
Distributed by United Artists
Release date
  • November 11, 1929 (1929-11-11)
  • November 1, 1929 (1929-11-01) (New York City)
[citation needed]
Running time
90 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Trespasser is a 1929 American pre-Code film directed and written by Edmund Goulding, starring Gloria Swanson, Robert Ames, Purnell Pratt, Henry B. Walthall, and Wally Albright. The film was released by United Artists in both silent and talkie versions.


A humble woman (Swanson) marries a wealthy man (Ames). Their marriage is annulled by the man's father (Holden), who considers her a fortune-hunter, and she is left alone to raise her child. She later becomes a "kept woman" for an older, married man. When the man dies, leaving Swanson a $500,000 inheritance, the press is quick to cast doubts upon the paternity of Swanson's child. Her ex-husband has since remarried, and now comes back into Swanson's life. For the sake of her child, she sends the boy to live with her ex and his wife. The wife dies and the film ends happily (if improbably) with Swanson reunited with her ex-husband.

Production background[edit]

The Trespasser was produced as both a silent and sound version for a total negative cost of $725,000.[1] The film earned an Academy Award nomination for (Gloria Swanson) in her talkie debut. It was written and directed by Edmund Goulding and was first filmed as a silent film. A talkie version was quickly made and was a smash hit for its star, Gloria Swanson. Goulding remade the film as That Certain Woman (1937) with Bette Davis and Henry Fonda.

Preservation status[edit]

George Eastman House preserved the film with the help of the American Film Institute and The Film Foundation. This restored version was shown on Turner Classic Movies on December 14, 2011.


Sadly for Swanson, The Trespasser proved to be one of her only two hit talkies, the other being Sunset Boulevard (1950), over 20 years later. Subsequent films like What a Widow! (1930), Indiscreet (1931), Tonight or Never (1931), Perfect Understanding (1933), and Music in the Air (1934) were all box-office flops.[2]

The Trespasser was an important film for Swanson, following the disastrous Queen Kelly (1929) and the hit Sadie Thompson (1928). This was Swanson's second Oscar nomination. Despite the disappointments following The Trespasser, Swanson was remembered by Billy Wilder, a writer on Music in the Air, when he was casting the part of Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard (1950).[citation needed]



  1. ^ Beauchamp, Cari. Joseph P. Kennedy Presents: His Hollywood Years. Random House Digital. p 265. Accessed May 22. 2012
  2. ^ Shearer, Stephen Michael (August 27, 2013). Gloria Swanson: The Ultimate Star (1st ed.). Macmillan. pp. 230, 270. ISBN 9781250001559. Retrieved 26 April 2017. 

External links[edit]