The Trial of Mary Dugan


2h 1929
The Trial of Mary Dugan

Brief Synopsis

A Broadway showgirl goes on trial for the murder of her wealthy lover.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Adaptation
Release Date
Jun 8, 1929
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play The Trial of Mary Dugan by Bayard Veiller (New York, 19 Sep 1927).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Film Length
10,621ft (12 reels)

Synopsis

Pretty Mary Dugan is placed on trial for the murder of her sugardaddy, who was found shot to death in the apartment he kept for her. Edward West, Mary's attorney, deliberately restrains himself in his cross-examination of the witnesses for the prosecution, and Mary's brother, Jimmy, who is a fledgling lawyer, strongly protests. West withdraws from the case, and Jimmy takes over his sister's defense. Jimmy puts Mary on the stand, and her subsequent testimony reveals that she had been the mistress of four successive men in order to earn enough money to put Jimmy through law school. Jimmy brings about Mary's acquittal by proving that Edward West was the man who murdered Mary's benefactor.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Adaptation
Release Date
Jun 8, 1929
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play The Trial of Mary Dugan by Bayard Veiller (New York, 19 Sep 1927).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Film Length
10,621ft (12 reels)

Articles

The Trial of Mary Dugan (1929) -


The stories of silent actors who couldn't weather the change to sound are legion. Some lost out because their nasal, tremulous, or heavily-accented voices were lacking, but some lovely-voiced actors were tripped up only by their own insecurities. Norma Shearer might have been one of them, were she not married to legendary producer Irving Thalberg. The 27-year old actress was wary of the transition to sound because she had no stage experience, and was intimidated by the huge, booth-encased sound cameras. (Once, distracted by her own reflection in the dark pane of glass in front of the lens, she paused in mid-dialogue because she expected "the reflection to go on acting for me.") But Thalberg's methodical process in making this very early sound film included performing key scenes before an audience in the studio before giving the go-ahead to shoot on film, helped the actress gain confidence in this courtroom drama about a woman (Shearer) on trial for the murder of one of her numerous lovers. Thalberg got his movie, but the trouble wasn't over for sound pictures: a Chicago priest, appalled by this story line, started drumming up the grass roots campaign for decency in motion pictures that would eventually become the Hays Code.

By Violet LeVoit
The Trial Of Mary Dugan (1929) -

The Trial of Mary Dugan (1929) -

The stories of silent actors who couldn't weather the change to sound are legion. Some lost out because their nasal, tremulous, or heavily-accented voices were lacking, but some lovely-voiced actors were tripped up only by their own insecurities. Norma Shearer might have been one of them, were she not married to legendary producer Irving Thalberg. The 27-year old actress was wary of the transition to sound because she had no stage experience, and was intimidated by the huge, booth-encased sound cameras. (Once, distracted by her own reflection in the dark pane of glass in front of the lens, she paused in mid-dialogue because she expected "the reflection to go on acting for me.") But Thalberg's methodical process in making this very early sound film included performing key scenes before an audience in the studio before giving the go-ahead to shoot on film, helped the actress gain confidence in this courtroom drama about a woman (Shearer) on trial for the murder of one of her numerous lovers. Thalberg got his movie, but the trouble wasn't over for sound pictures: a Chicago priest, appalled by this story line, started drumming up the grass roots campaign for decency in motion pictures that would eventually become the Hays Code. By Violet LeVoit

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

In 1931, M-G-M produced foreign language-versions of The Trial of Mary Dugan in Spanish, French and German. For information on those films, please consult the entries for El proceso de Mary Dugan, Le proc├Ęs de Mary Dugan and Mordprozess Mary Dugan. Another English-language adaptation of Bayard Veiller's play The Trial of Mary Dugan was made by M-G-M in 1941, directed by Norman Z. McLeod and starring Robert Young and Laraine Day (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50).