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The Films of Greta GarboReview & Appreciation Thread


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#136 canbelto

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Posted 14 November 2010 - 08:02 AM

Last night I saw "Ninotchka" on PBS. This isn't a movie that holds up well on repeated viewings. I think because the second half is so much worse than the first. The famed "Lubitsch touch" seems to disappear after Ninotchka becomes "capitalistic." But what bothered me about the film the most was the sexism. Audiences are supposed to find Ninotchka more likable after she hooks up with Melvyn Douglas (Leon), but the early scenes with Garbo are the strongest simply because Nina today comes across as an admirable woman. Tough, intelligent, quick-witted career woman. To see her simpering under the "charms" of someone as annoying as Melvyn Douglas is depressing rather than romantic.

I wonder if this movie would have worked much better with a stronger male lead, who would have made Leon less annoying. As it is, I cheer when Nina points out early in the movie how annoying and unfunny Leon is being. Also, most of the romantic comedies of that era had women who remained strong and outspoken throughout the movie. Garbo looks luminous when she's in love, but I wonder if there was a way to preserve Nina's original tart, curt personality. I think the movie wouldn't have lost its edge so quickly.

#137 miliosr

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Posted 14 November 2010 - 05:50 PM

Moving on . . . albeit slowly

Camille (Premiere: December 1936/January 1937)
Cast: Greta Garbo (Marguerite), Spangler Arlington Brugh (Armand), Lionel Barrymore (Monsieur Duval), Henry Daniell (Baron de Varville), Laura Hope Crews (Prudence), Lenore Ulric (Olympe)
Director: George Cukor
Cinematographer: William Daniels
Gowns by: Adrian
Production Cost: $1,486,000 Profit: $388,000

Camille was Garbo's twenty-second picture for M-G-M and twelfth talkie.

Having already essayed the parts of Queen Christina and Anna Karenina, Garbo completes the trifecta by portraying the Dumas heroine, Marguerite. Interestingly, given the importance death plays in Camille, the deaths of two men who had been very important to Garbo -- John Gilbert and Irving Thalberg -- bookended the production.

Garbo was Oscar-nominated for her performance as Marguerite and rightly so -- she is pitch perfect in this. Try as I might, I cannot find a flaw here. As good as she was in Queen Christina and Anna Karenina, her performance here outstripped the performances she gave in those films. Truly, she is the definitive Marguerite.

Robert Taylor is beyond beautiful in this and he does manage to project a certain youthful naivete that is right for the part. However, his speaking voice is so redolent of 'Santa Monica, France' rather than 'Paris, France' that he took me right out of events every time he opened his mouth. If only he had come along as a ballet dancer in the 21st century so he could look beautiful on stage in a ballet version of Camille without having to open his mouth!

The supporting cast is outstanding, especially Laura Hope Crews (the future Aunt Pittypat in Gone With the Wind) and Lenore Ulric as Marguerite's two friends, Prudence and Olympe. (Interestingly, the actor who played Dr. Meade in Gone With the Wind has a scene with Laura Hope Crews at Marguerite's party.)

The film is lavish in the grand M-G-M manner and William Daniels filmed Garbo as lovingly as ever. The print transfer is good although it is scratchy at points. There is no commentary track.

Film grade: A (Knocked down from an A+ because of Taylor.)
Garbo grade: A+
Laura Hope Crews grade: A

#138 yiannisfrance

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Posted 15 November 2010 - 05:20 AM

Welcome back (bienvenue à nouveau), so glad to hear from you again. I too have been very busy lately and travelling around, but is is always such a pleasure to return to this forum and talk about the Divine. A marvellous coincidenc e by the way, last night I watched "Camille" with a friend (I shouold keep account but I have no idea how many times I have seen this film, countless and as always I rediscover it each time I watch it).

Garbo is as you said the definitive Marguerite of all times. There is so much detail, feeling and delicacy in her performance that she leaves me speechless. This is one fo the very few films that even if I know it by heart I still feel overwelmed and I am always in tears even if I know each syllable, each expression of Garbo's performance by heart.

I believe one of the secrets of her performance, what makes her so timeless is that she plays (contre-courant as we say, against the current. When she laughs at the piano scene for example, you feel her torment feelings, she way she pulls back her head it really is heartbreaking. At her birthday party when she is joined by Armand at the room after her coughing scene and he declares his love for her she says "What a child you are" and yet there is a tender softness in her voice.

This is the only "Camille" or "traviata" I have seen with a sense of humour which is dazzling in the opening scenes at the theatre. This Marguerite knows that she lives in a frivolous, superficial world (the demi-monde) with shallow superficial friends (with the exception of her faitful adorable Nanine and later Gaston and of course Armand and her firend Nichette), yet she laughs at all this as if she knows and feels that she will not live much longer. Garbo laughs or smiles and yet behind that shime we see the shadow of fate or even death.

I love the scene at the auction when she sees Nichette and then tells her charmingly as she leaves her (I always look well when I am near death. She delivers the line with an infinite grace and charm and yet you feel that she is laughing at death which is not far away. And when she sees Armand you can feel the light emanating from her whole being "Armand Duval where are my marrons glacés?".

The piano scene with the mazgnificent Henry Daniel as the Baron de Varvilel is justly brilliant (wonderful dialogues) and you can see the inner torment of Marguerite, sacrifising temporarirly love (in the person of Armand whom she has locked outside) for the wealth that the Baron de Varville can offer her.

By the moment Garboa s Marguerite accepts the fact that she is truly in love with Armandf her transformation is complete and dazzling. When she joins Armand at hsi apartment as he is rpeparing to leave town, her voice has a tender, generous touch which is heartbreaking. Her beautiful line "You know once I had a little dog, who always looked sad when I was sad and I loved him so. And whenyour teras fell on my hand I loved you all at once". Simple beautiful, simply heartbreaking.

When she asks the Baron for money so sthat she can leave with her lover in the country and he slaps her as she thanks him, Grabo offers us one of her most profunf a

#139 yiannisfrance

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Posted 15 November 2010 - 05:39 AM

Welcome back (bienvenue à nouveau), so glad to hear from you again. I too have been very busy lately and travelling around, but is is always such a pleasure to return to this forum and talk about the Divine. A marvelous coincidence e by the way, last night I watched "Camille" with a friend (I should keep account but I have no idea how many times I have seen this film, countless and as always I rediscover it with awe each time I watch it especially with regards to the genious of Garbo’s performance).

Garbo is as you said the definitive Marguerite of all times. There is so much detail, feeling and delicacy in her performance that she leaves me speechless. This is one of the very few films that even if I know it by heart I still feel overwhelmed and I am always in tears even if I know each syllable, each expression of Garbo's performance by heart.

I believe one of the secrets of her performance, what makes her so timeless is that she plays (contre-courant as we say, against the current). When she laughs at the piano scene for example, you feel her tormented feelings, she way she pulls back her head it really is heartbreaking. At her birthday party when she is joined by Armand at the room after her coughing scene and he declares his love for her she says "What a child you are" and yet there is a tender softness in her voice.

This is the only "Camille" or "Traviata" I have seen with a sense of humor which is dazzling in the opening scenes at the theatre. This Marguerite knows that she lives in a frivolous, superficial world (the demi-monde) with shallow superficial friends (with the exception of her faithful adorable Nanine and later Gaston and of course Armand and her friend Nichette), yet she laughs at all this as if she knows and feels that she will not live much longer. Garbo laughs or smiles and yet behind that radiant shile we see the shadow of fate or even death.

I love the scene at the auction when she sees Nichette and then tells her charmingly as she leaves her (“I always look well when I am near death”). She delivers the line with an infinite grace and charm and yet you feel that she is laughing at death which is not far away. And when she sees Armand you can feel the light emanating from her whole being as she says so beautifully with Chopin’s music accompanying her "Armand Duval where are my marrons glacés?".

The piano scene with the magnificent Henry Daniel as the Baron de Varville is justly brilliant (wonderful dialogues) and you can see the inner torment of Marguerite, sacrificing temporarily love (in the person of Armand whom she has locked outside) for the wealth that the Baron de Varville can offer her.

By the moment Garbo as Marguerite accepts the fact that she is truly in love with Armandf her transformation is complete and dazzling. When she joins Armand at his apartment as he is preparing to leave town, her voice has a tender, generous touch which is heartbreaking. Her beautiful line "You know once I had a little dog, and he always looked sad when I was sad and I loved him so. And when your teras fell on my hand I loved you all at once". Simple beautiful, simply heartbreaking.

When she asks the Baron for money so that she can leave with her lover in the country and he slaps her as she thanks him, Garbo offers us one of her most profound and beautiful close-ups of her entire filmography. Shocked, dignified, humiliated and yet pleased at the prospect that this money will allow her to live some happy moments with her lover in the country.
The scene where she confronts Armand’s father is masterfully played with such tragic dignity and Garbo never falls into the trap of being melodramatic as she also proves in the subsequent tricky scene where she leaves Armand to join the Baron de Varville. Garbo’s voice has become harsh, but she is actually harsher on herself as we can feel than on her lover who ignores the truth when she tells him “Was it one summer all you wanted?”. In the gambling scene she is but a tragic shadow of her old self as she picks up her fan that the Baron refuses to pick up for her. In her black, dark gown she looks like a tragic queen in mourning, who has lost the spark of life and love and the courage to live.

As for her celebrated death scene, this remains a privileged piece in all the Garbo filmography beautiful beyond any words of description. It has been said that we see her very soul leaving her exquisite flesh as she dies and this is so true. And she leaves this world with a slight touch of a smile, in peace, as if she found herself caught in a moment of eternity.
I am personally less harsh on Taylor’s performance than many people, since, true, he is so beautiful but healso manages to convey that boyish immature romantic passion of Armand despite his American accent. All actors are brilliant with special mentions to Henry Daniel as the Baron or the magnificent Laura Hope Crews as Prudence and Jessie Ralph as the tender Nanine. Adrian’s costumes are exquisite and they really are an integral part of drama in the film since each costume and the way Garbo wears it tells us something about the character and its evolution, as is Cukor’s direction (this is by far my favorite of all his films).

#140 yiannisfrance

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Posted 15 November 2010 - 05:48 AM

Hello

Just to apologise for my first message on "Camille", it was not edited and full of mistakes and I edited it on the board by mistake, so please refer to my second message.

#141 dirac

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Posted 15 November 2010 - 12:42 PM

...... the early scenes with Garbo are the strongest simply because Nina today comes across as an admirable woman. Tough, intelligent, quick-witted career woman. To see her simpering under the "charms" of someone as annoying as Melvyn Douglas is depressing rather than romantic.


The movie almost seems set up to make the Soviet Union look good, doesn’t it? Rather than envying Westerners their liberties, the Soviet envoys ogle their consumer goods and chambermaids. Ninotchka isn’t a real woman until she abandons her unfeminine interest in engineering and focuses on accessories, and her female rival has nothing on her mind except her tiara. Ninotchka is severe but she has ideals and a commitment to her country.

On the other hand, Garbo also shows us clearly what Nina's dedication has cost her in emotional deprivation, one of the finer aspects of her performance.

Having said that, the movie is well done even if the second half disappoints, I like Melvyn Douglas better than you do, and Garbo makes the softening and blooming of Ninotchka into a woman in love remarkably tender and moving.




#142 dirac

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Posted 15 November 2010 - 01:01 PM

There's really not much to add to the excellent comments above – Garbo's Marguerite is one of the great screen portrayals. There are so many grace notes it would be tedious to list them, but in addition to those mentioned above I would add the way her eyes flicker open at the moment of death and then close, an effective reversal of customary movie practice. She triumphs over Lionel Barrymore's ham and the fields of fake flowers, and Henry Daniell is perhaps her best acting partner since J. Barrymore in Grand Hotel. He has the style to match her and also conveys the human pain behind the Baron's jealousy and cruelty. Wonderful performance.

I'm indifferent to Robert Taylor's brand of pretty but his amateurishness doesn't come close to sinking the movie until the second half, where he simply cannot navigate the emotions required of him.

Adrian's costumes are exquisite and they really are an integral part of drama in the film since each costume and the way Garbo wears it tells us something about the character and its evolution, as is Cukor's direction (this is by far my favorite of all his films).


Adrian takes advantage of the period to show off Garbo's noble head and eloquent neck and her broad shoulders, and within the limitations allowed by the censorship Cukor creates a very convincing demimonde. I love this movie, for the most part.


#143 miliosr

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Posted 15 November 2010 - 06:35 PM

In the gambling scene she is but a tragic shadow of her old self as she picks up her fan that the Baron refuses to pick up for her.

The scene w/ the fan is interesting for two reasons. First, it shows that someone was paying attention to continuity. Earlier, the Baron had warned Marguerite that, if she came back to him, their relationship would operate under different circumstances. His refusal to pick up the fan leaves the viewer in no doubt just how cruel the new circumstances are and will be for Marguerite.

The second interesting thing about the scene is how Garbo picks up the fan. In his book, Mark Vieira quotes a set-side observer who was amazed how Garbo, rather than kneeling to pick up the fan, made this graceful sideways "fall" to get the fan. The set-side observer compared Garbo at this moment to Isadora Duncan but, to my eyes, the fall looks like something Martha Graham or Doris Humphrey would have been doing at the same time. Was Garbo aware of the burgeoning modern dance???

#144 yiannisfrance

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Posted 16 November 2010 - 01:08 AM

The second interesting thing about the scene is how Garbo picks up the fan. In his book, Mark Vieira quotes a set-side observer who was amazed how Garbo, rather than kneeling to pick up the fan, made this graceful sideways "fall" to get the fan. The set-side observer compared Garbo at this moment to Isadora Duncan but, to my eyes, the fall looks like something Martha Graham or Doris Humphrey would have been doing at the same time. Was Garbo aware of the burgeoning modern dance???


This is a very interesting observation. I have always wondered about whether Garbo felt close to dance or opera for that matter since her Camille and most of her performances can be seen like music, the intonations of her voice, low at times, then melodious, harsh and even soprano like as when Nanine announces her at the death scene that Armand has come to see her. He is here she asks?

She also has in her movements the grace of a dancer, but we know very little about Garbo's tastes in dance despite the claims of various biographers who tend to to indicate that she was rather indifferent to these forms of art.

At any rate, many opera signers, dancers and choreographers loved Garbo and were inspired by her, especially in Camille. Callas worshiped her (interestingly enough the two women knew each other and met on several occasions on the Onassis boat). The other Divina alwas expressed her admiration for Garbo's Camille which inspired her own great Violetta in La Traviata.

Fredric Ashton was inspired from both Garbo and Anna Pavlova for Marguerite and Armand and I believe John Neuimeier was inspired as well for his Lady of the Camellias ballet. Also worthy of note, Bejart created Divine, a modern dance piece in the eighties I believe inspired by Garbo films including Camille which was performed by Marcia Haydée.

To go back to the initial question, it might simply be that Garbo had that instinctive genius which allowed her to express herself in movement as Louise Brooks has said about her, like a dancer, an actress-dancer. Maybe she was not even fully aware of this extraordinary gift.

#145 papeetepatrick

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Posted 16 November 2010 - 10:00 AM

She also has in her movements the grace of a dancer, but we know very little about Garbo's tastes in dance despite the claims of various biographers who tend to to indicate that she was rather indifferent to these forms of art.


I'd say she had grace, but not 'in the sense of a dancer' most of the time, at least in a conventional sense. There's a lot of 'debutante slouch' which is very sexy, but that's not esp. dancerly. There are times, as with the fan here, and when she swoops over to the phone in 'Grand Hotel', reacting in a singularly anomalous way at last to the reality that she has a thoroughly illegal intruder. There's another moment like that in the New York part of Susan Lennox, in which there is a large movement across the room to make a phone call. Her movements are unique, but I can see them as inspiring dance and choreographers more than the other way around--she's often angular and maybe kind of 'staccato', but never moves with the seamless, not-touching-the-ground quality that ballerinas will often have offstage (even when they're not dressed up. Audrey Hepburn had a lot more of that sort of movement and it was always apparent, but she'd been trained in ballet.) I can see miliosr's point about how she might have been aware of the current graham developments in dance, though, although the movements themselves are more like Martha herself on those two films.

At any rate, many opera signers, dancers and choreographers loved Garbo and were inspired by her, especially in Camille. Callas worshiped her (interestingly enough the two women knew each other and met on several occasions on the Onassis boat). The other Divina alwas expressed her admiration for Garbo's Camille which inspired her own great Violetta in La Traviata.


That's interesting about Callas, she definitely was quite the Fan of other women, although many competing stars admired Garbo (including Dietrich.) But Callas's could have been
that determined fixation on 'looking glamorous and svelte'. Again A. Hepburn, of whom she was a huge fan, and kept photos of her in her dressing room. Lots of women wanted Hepburn's mannequin look on which hung Givenchy's gowns so well, and you can see Callas working to imitate this look in a 'Tosca' from the late 50s in Paris, which I saw on DVD a few years ago. This is a pity, because she never looks like Audrey Hepburn except very superficially (and god knows, was at the other end of the universe in terms of temperament, her attempts at seeming 'sweet' don't tend to convince); but that was part of her tragedy, which was pretty complex. Callas's movement probably wasn't influenced by Garbo's, though, as Callas could dart like a reptile on to the stage, as in her scenes with Scarpia; one usually sees Garbo as rather extravagantly leisurely, rarely furious (I can't think of any). Her Traviata would have been fascinating to see in light of this 'worship of Garbo', though. Although in walking to the elevator as the ballerina in 'Grand Hotel', it's businesslike--which reminds me, I find her convincing as the ballerina in 'Grand Hotel', but it's not because of any ballerina-like movements, but rather the persona she successfully project.

As for artists of all kinds being influenced by Garbo, I think she has been a huge influence, and I have often wondered in particular about Graham, but never found it mentioned. There are even strange things like Robert Wilson photographing Isabelle Huppert as Garbo, which for me is more curious than beautiful, and I don't think it works.

I have never been able to find Robert Taylor interesting. I can tell that he is objectively handsome, but in this one case, it doesn't translate as especially attractive to me, although he's serviceable enough (Pauline Kael's comparison of Taylor and Tom Cruise I thought astute--just a kind of trademarked brand, more or less always the same, was the gist, I believe). I'm wondering what French or Italian actor of the time might have seemed right for this. Someone like Gerard Philippe or Louis Jourdan sound right had they been around that early, although they may still be too light; again, I can easily imagine Charles Boyer in this with her as well as Vronsky.

I believe I posted an ancient New York Times review of Sarah Bernhardt in 'Camille', when she did it in New York. That would have been a Camille to muse over as well. I think I'll see if I can find it, because the critic was indeed all superlatives....no, couldn't find it, there was only an abstract from SB's perf. of it in D.C., but this little site had a comparison of Garbo and Bernhardt in the role (or at least a line about it}:

http://www.leninimpo...bo_camille.html

Alan Rudolph's film 'Welcome to L.A' has a marvelous neurotic character with a Garbo Complex, who has just seen 'Camille' and is imitating her cough for awhile, and later screams 'Nanine! Nanine!' in the mirror, and tells Sissy Spacek "I don't think I have very long to live...' This is a marvelous performance, and not least because Geraldine Chaplin at that age (in 1977) was an equivalent screen beauty to Garbo, so it didn't seem stupid.

#146 yiannisfrance

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Posted 16 November 2010 - 11:45 AM

Very interesting remarks.

Regarding Callas and Garbo there was this interview on French television in 1968 I believe when Callas was interviwed with Luchino Visconti and when asked about the artists she admired most she mentioned two, Garbo and Laurence Olivier.

I also remember Callas saying in an interview that the first time she was fascinated by films was after seeing Garbo in Camille. It is not hard to see the connection between these two unique artists although very different in looks and temperament. Although there is no imitation, some parallels are interesting to see.

Callas was fascinated by heroic, self-sacrificing romantic heroines like Violetta, Norma or Lucia. Garbo was equally attracted by tragic, noble romantic heroines like Marruerite, Karenina or Diana in Woman of Affairs. They were both believers in creating beauty, Callas through the bel-canto and Garbo through her Face and cinematic presence in tragic romantic films.

I think Callas like many women in the fifties was influenced by Audrey's look in Roman Holiday. Remember this was the time when she declared that she wanted to become as thin as Audrey. But this had more to do with the woman than the artist, she just wanted to become more attractive both as an artist on stage and woman. Although the approach to roles might be different, it is interesting that you mentioned Tosca. Whenever I see Callas in the 1964 film kiling Scarpia and the disgust she displays as she removes the documents from the corpse I cannot feel but thinking of Garbo in a very similar and magnificent scene of The mysterious Lady and the disgust and fear she displays as she approaches Boriss' corpse. It would not surprise me if Callas had seen the Garbo film.

About Garbo and movement, I think she did have that innate genius for movement that dancers have but probably as you said in an unconventional way not as a dancer-dancer but as an actress-dancer. Many privileged scenes in her films show that. The death scene in Camille with that fragile way she moves her ailing body and the way she falls into Armand's hands. The scene where she memorizes the room in Queen Christian or the scene with the flowers in Woman of Affairs.

To go back to poor Robert Taylor, I still have a tendency to defend him. Armand is like Alfredo in La Traviata a very hard part to defend by an actor even a most competent one since everything is about Marguerite or Violetta. Cukor was right in that respect when he defended Taylor's performance saying that he made Armand very appealing by his youth and beauty and impetuous manners. And I think that youthful impetuous romanticism of Robert Taylor create quite a magical contrast with Garbo's mature tragic persona in the film. And Taylor's immature, romantic image creates an interesting contrast with the magnificent cynical performance of Henry Daniel as the Baron de Varville ( I would be tempted to say that Henry Danniel is almost Garbo's best acting partner in all of her films).

Could another actor do justice to Armand at this time? Hard to say. Gerard Philippe would be right, but he really started his career in the mid-forties in France so it was too early, and maybe even Boyer was not totally physically right for the part, although most charming and a wonderful actor.

#147 papeetepatrick

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Posted 16 November 2010 - 01:09 PM

Cukor was right in that respect when he defended Taylor's performance saying that he made Armand very appealing by his youth and beauty and impetuous manners. And I think that youthful impetuous romanticism of Robert Taylor create quite a magical contrast with Garbo's mature tragic persona in the film. And Taylor's immature, romantic image creates an interesting contrast with the magnificent cynical performance of Henry Daniel as the Baron de Varville ( I would be tempted to say that Henry Danniel is almost Garbo's best acting partner in all of her films).


This all makes sense, but it may be that I just don't think there is enough of some kind of energy about Taylor, not even the spark that Cruise once in awhile will flash on suddenly, in the middle of an otherwise thoroughly routine performance. And I have noticed that I differ a little with Kael in her comparison of Taylor and Cruise in another way too: A couple of times Cruise has actually interested me, but leaving 'Camille' aside, I've just never found Taylor to quite get beyond something that seems sort of stolid. I guess it's about the same way I feel about Tyrone Power.

On yes, Jean-Louis Barrault could have done this, it just occurs to me. He was a brilliant actor (stage esp.), which some don't know if they're familiar only with 'Les Enfants du Paradis'; I imagine many think of him as a mime more like Marcel Marceau. Who could have been more elegant and 'immature' (in the part) than Baptiste? He's not macho enough for Hollywood of the 30s, but he's right for the 19th century, isn't he? And my favourite macho actors of the 30s in Hollywood are all of them wrong for Armand, too American.

Oh, but then, we've forgotten Olivier, who would have been perfect, better here than Queen Cristina, I'm glad Gilbert did that. Not that Taylor is bad, but he does seem out of place sometimes. In either case, it does seem Taylor's good, but not quite inspired, performance, that is the main reason Garbo doesn't have a film that is quite a masterpiece the way Arletty does with 'Children of Paradise'. although there are few films that good anyway.

Callas probably has some expression that is modelled on Garbo, I'm sure you could demonstrate this. I think I was mainly thinking of walking, which with Callas is sometimes much faster than Garbo ever moves (even as Ninotchka, it's the slightly over-the-top regimented walk, but it's not so fast--she often strides, also, with big, never dainty, steps, through all the movies that i can recall specific scenes offhand). It's a little like the way Marilyn Monroe is so effortlessly sensual, but it's 'takin' it's time', but by the time Bardot comes on the scene (when this sort of sex bomb had become an explicit type), she's very voluptuous too, but adds a touch of her own by quickening it; I'm not sure 'animated' is a word that ever comes to mind with Marilyn, although I'm not sure, and I'm still a BIG fan of Marilyn.

Also makes me remember a discussion of Garbo with a friend who used to follow her around town till he realized it was scaring her. I was telling him how funny I thought she was (although this isn't very nice of me to say) in 'Romance' when she rushes the maid out so she can keep her appointment with her beau, then walks through the door with that bustle on and slams the door stealthily but decisively (and this definitely is a matter of movement, although not one of the most graceful examples, too humorous); this always makes me laugh, as does the way her 'I vant to be alone' scene in 'Grand Hotel' when she gently but adamantly pushes the servant out and locks the door.

No, now it occurs to me that Cary Grant could have gotten this exactly right, and I'm no big fan of his. I don't know what the studio conflicts were off-hand, but somebody will.

#148 canbelto

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Posted 16 November 2010 - 03:57 PM

I have a deep distaste for Robert Taylor personally, because he not only named names for the HUAC, but was quite proud of it. But I kind of think that his young, callow, naive Armand works quite well in the film. Even the high-pitched voice doesn't bother me. And plus, it's the kind of role that's hard to cast. The leading men back then would have considered it secondary and immature, and the character actors wouldn't have been right for the part either.

I think nowadays it might be easier to cast an Armand, because there are more movie stars who seem to embrace their boyishness. Leonardo di Caprio, for one, is not afraid to seem eternally boyish.

I really like George Cukor's direction in Camille. I like how he sets up quite a few scenes that don't so much move the plot forward as they do establish the feel of the demimonde world. Garbo spending so much money to buy two horses, for instance. Or the frenemy relationship Marguerite has with her fellow courtesans.

Adding to the pile-on of laudits for Garbo's performance, I like her reaction to being slapped. It's meant to be shocking, but I like how Garbo after the initial shock doesn't seem too ruffled about it, like it's not really her first time being poorly treated by a patron. It really highlights the essential ugliness of the life of a courtesan, underneath all that superficial luxury.

#149 dirac

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Posted 16 November 2010 - 04:47 PM

Could another actor do justice to Armand at this time? Hard to say. Gerard Philippe would be right, but he really started his career in the mid-forties in France so it was too early, and maybe even Boyer was not totally physically right for the part, although most charming and a wonderful actor.


Boyer was too old by 1936, I think. Track down Olivier and offer him a second chance, or borrow Tyrone Power. The timing really is off for Power, since he didn't make his mark as a star until this year (1936) but he was a somewhat better actor than Taylor at this time (and with Garbo he would have been better still, I expect), with a superior speaking voice and a stronger presence.

Gary Cooper was also too old by 1936, but it would not have been a bad part for him in his salad days. Hopelessly American, but an actor of much greater sensitivity.

Philipe would be perfect.



#150 papeetepatrick

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Posted 16 November 2010 - 05:56 PM

Gary Cooper was also too old by 1936, but it would not have been a bad part for him in his salad days. Hopelessly American, but an actor of much greater sensitivity.


http://en.wikipedia....own_trailer.JPG

There's Coop in 1936 with Jean Arthur, but man, this guy had IT...I always see him and Garbo together and they never were; I'm sure I could figure a way to see him as Armand, even if he later told Ingrid Bergman 'why can't you just talk American?' My father and I had such a blast watching that movie together (I think it's 'Saratoga Trunk'). 'Hopelessly
American' is great :clapping:, because he was one of the ultimate all-Americans--looks like transplanting from Kent and Bedfordshire to Montana 'took'; even though his mom sent him back there for three years when about 10, I think. I can't believe I didn't know he was Selznick's first choice for Rhett Butler, and rejected it. Of course, I can imagine him being even better than Gable, but maybe not.

Maybe he would have been esp. good in the early 'Anna Christie' with Garbo. I think that's about the time he did 'Farewell to Arms' with Helen Hayes.


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