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The Trespasser (1929)

The trial and tribulations of a strong-willed woman who elopes and gives birth out of wedlock without telling her ex-husband.


Edmund Goulding


Edmund Goulding
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »


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Cast overview:
Gloria Swanson ... Marion Donnell
Robert Ames ... Jack Merrick
Purnell Pratt ... Hector Ferguson
Henry B. Walthall ... Fuller
Wally Albright ... Jack Merrick (as Wally Albright Jr.)
William Holden William Holden ... John Merrick, Sr.
Blanche Friderici ... Miss Potter - Nurse (as Blanche Frederici)
Kay Hammond ... Catherine 'Flip' Merrick
Mary Forbes ... Mrs. Ferguson
Marcelle Corday ... Blanche - the Maid


A stenographer who works for a lawyer falls in love with and marries a wealthy young man. His family has the marraige annulled, after which she gives birth to a child. Her former boss helps her out to ensure the child's welfare, which starts gossip that she is a "kept woman." Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The screen's foremost dramatic actress in her finest effort! See more »









Release Date:

11 November 1929 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Amor que peca See more »


Box Office


$725,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Gloria Productions See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


With The Trespasser (1929), Gloria Swanson had one of the biggest hit talkie debuts of any silent star. See more »


Marion Donnell: Mr. Merrick, I married your son because I loved him and thought he loved me. I felt that if he worked on his own for us both it would make a man of him. I put him to the test and he failed me!
Jack Merrick: No Marian!
Marion Donnell: You came here to save your son from a fortune-hunting parasite, well you happen to have saved her instead. Annul the marriage, take him back, I don't want him!
See more »

Alternate Versions

Shot simultaniously in silent and sound versions. See more »


Remade as That Certain Woman (1937) See more »


Music by Enrico Toselli
English Lyric by Sigmund Spaeth
Performed by Gloria Swanson
See more »

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User Reviews

Gloria, Your Magic Spell...
17 December 2011 | by RBarrSee all my reviews

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.

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