THE SILENT TREATMENT: The Goose Woman (Introduced by Allison Anders!)

Feat. Live Accompaniment from Cliff Retallick!

Based on Rex Beach’s story of the same name, which was in turn loosely based on the grisly 1922 Hall-Mills double murder of a priest and his rumored mistress, The Goose Woman draws on a real life tabloid extravaganza. The titular “Goose Woman,” played by Louise Dresser, of vaudeville fame, was witness to the murder and quickly established herself as a meddling bystander with a constantly shifting story that magnetized the attention of the press. Basing a film on an at-the-time unsolved murder was tricky business—up-and-coming director Clarence Brown had to make sure details of the case were not replicated in the film, inciting libel suits. Despite a set up that suggested “a lurid, ‘ripped from the headlines’ melodrama from a studio known for its cheap genre films, The Goose Woman became one of Universal’s ‘Jewels,’ a prestige production” (Matthew Kennedy). It’s a story with lasting mystery, to boot—the real life murder suspects were acquitted, and the crime was never solved.

Dir Clarence Brown, 1925, 35mm (Print Restored Courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive) , 80 min.

Watch the Cinefamily original trailer!