Jump to content


The Films of Greta GarboReview & Appreciation Thread


  • Please log in to reply
210 replies to this topic

#91 dirac

dirac

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 25,040 posts

Posted 02 August 2010 - 12:11 PM

Precisely. Whatever was emanating from Mildred's mouth was at odds with the jawline. I like Mildred Pierce but I don't believe for one second that Joan-as-Mildred wouldn't have eaten Vida for lunch.

Well, I probably should have qualified "big bowl of mush." Mildred is a big bowl of mush where Veda is concerned - the huge blind spot of an otherwise determined and canny businesswoman. The jawline is well deployed when Crawford says things along the lines of "I'lldoanythingforthosekidsdoyouunderstandanything..."

William Daniels lights Garbo and Crawford to an absolutely incredible degree -- they glow like Eastern Orthodox icons in this.


Cheekbones had a special impact in black-and-white and both ladies had great ones.



#92 papeetepatrick

papeetepatrick

    Sapphire Circle

  • Inactive Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,486 posts

Posted 02 August 2010 - 02:13 PM

She was a Charleston dancer, basically.


Yes, and that helps understand what happened when she went out of what I usually think of as the 'Charleston range', if you see all of the steps as somehow Charlestonish. Which doesn't mean I think some of it looks good, but maybe it was a popular style.


Yes, and you can see the effects of that relentless quest for perfection as early as 1939.


Yes, and the relentless quest for perfection often brings up that difference between 'perfection' and 'perfectionism'.
They are not at all the same things, but the perfectionist thinks they are (the fastidiousness of detail.) This is something that can be shown not to achieve perfection in many cases, and Crawford was one of these. This would go along with her 'all business' attitude which comes across a lot, and is no different from what Fairbanks was saying. This commanding persona appeals to some even when for others it takes away the sexual allure. I can't really think of another major female star of the Golden Age that it happens with so obviously, although Davis and Stanwyck are not overt 'sex bombs' either--it just always seems like Crawford is 'supposed to be', but isn't quite, whereas Davis and Stanwyck just don't emphasize it on purpose. But Garbo, Colbert and Dietrich are all both commanding, tough and sexy to me, and later Turner and Gardner are both oozing sexiness with no effort at all, and it just never occurs to me with Crawford. I guess she's unique, though, and there are people who just don't show it except at keen moments--I've no doubt she did, but I never am quite moved by her, except intellectually: I do like that her persona existed, because it's different from anyone else's, but I never quite enjoy it the way her real fans do. She seems artificial to me, and more and more so as the career progresses. She always seems to want to be 'bigger-than-life', but that may not be something you can work at--just like an attitude of 'perfectionism' won't necessarily bring real perfection. Both Garbo and Crawford seem somehow 'strange', but there are versions of 'strange' that make sense to some and versions of it that make sense to others. For me, Joan Crawford is a historical phenomenon more than anything else. There must be a 'magic' there, but I just can't see it.

#93 miliosr

miliosr

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,561 posts

Posted 05 August 2010 - 02:06 PM

I hope everyone has enjoyed my chronological tour through Garbo's "best" films.

Garbo made one more film in 1932 (As You Desire Me) before she took a very long hiatus from the screen. She would not return until the end of 1933 with the release of Queen Christina. The box set contains this film as well as Anna Karenina(1935), Camille(1936) and Ninotchka(1939), which constitute her final and, arguably, greatest phase.

In the spirit of that long hiatus, your correspondent is taking a hiatus for a week but will return with reviews of the final four films (plus some surprises!) after I get back. Until then, I'm going to the Yacht Club for a Louisiana Flip!

#94 dirac

dirac

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 25,040 posts

Posted 05 August 2010 - 02:30 PM

We have enjoyed them very much. Party on. :)

#95 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 05 August 2010 - 06:46 PM

Queen Christina [ ... ] Anna Karenina [ ... ] Camille [ ... ] and Ninotchka

In the spirit of that long hiatus, your correspondent is taking a hiatus for a week but will return with reviews of the final four films (plus some surprises!) after I get back.


These are the films I remmber best, so I'm looking forward to hearing about them, miliosr. In the meantime, I wish you a wonderful Louisiana Flip (whatever that might be). :flowers:

#96 miliosr

miliosr

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,561 posts

Posted 28 August 2010 - 05:06 PM

Back from the Yacht Club and moving on . . .

Queen Christina (Premiere: December 26, 1933)
Cast: Garbo (Christina), John Gilbert (Don Antonio), Ian Keith (Count Magnus), Lewis Stone (Oxenstierna), Elizabeth Young (Ebba)
Director: Rouben Mamoulian
Cinematographer: William Daniels
Gowns by: Adrian
Production Cost: $1,114,000 American Gross: $767,000 Foreign Gross: $1,843,000 Profit: $1,496,000 (- promotional costs)

Queen Christina was Garbo's nineteenth picture for M-G-M and ninth talkie. The film was her first for M-G-M after a very long layoff.

I wanted to love this -- really I did -- but I wound up only liking it. The biggest obstacle I had with this film was its wildly alternating tone. According to Mark Vieira, whose book about Garbo's films I have been reading as I progress through the actual films, the screenplay was a patchwork made by many different hands. Unfortunately, the strain of uniting these various contributions and visions into a coherent whole sometimes shows. The film veers between serious drama, romantic melodrama, anti-war speechifying and screwball comedy so much that a consistency of tone never settles in until the last third of the picture.

I also had a very hard time believing Christina's deception of Antonio (and everyone else) at the inn. Garbo was no more believable as a woman posing as a man than Julie Andrews was in Victor/Victoria. And because I couldn't suspend disbelief enough, all of the comedic scenes at the inn fell flat for me.

Garbo is strong in this, particularly her anti-war speech to the Parliament, her facing down of the commoners on the palace steps, and her abdication speech. Special mention must go, of course, to her tour-de-force stroll around the room in the inn where she memorizes every aspect of it. (When she puts her face on the pillow and looks at Gilbert as Antonio, one can't help but wonder if it is Christina remembering her time with Antonio or Garbo remembering a happier time with Gilbert.) I do wish the production team hadn't used music for the scene -- I found the music distracting and unnecessary.

Garbo could be a monster of selfishness but she did a beautiful thing with Queen Christina. When she found Laurence Olivier (the original Antonio) not to her liking, she had him removed from the film and insisted that she would only accept John Gilbert as his replacement. Their physical love affair was long over at this point but, as actress Colleen Moore noted, "Garbo had a long memory." She sent the elevator back for the man she had once loved(?) and who had helped her so much between 1926-28 but who, by 1933, was the biggest casualty of the sound revoultion.

That being said, I found Gilbert's performance as Antonio to be unsatisfactory in this. For starters, while Gilbert was only 34 when he made Queen Christina, his emotional upheavals and hard drinking had made him look at least ten years older than his age. As a result, there was a severe mismatch between his looks and the sometimes juvenile lines he had to say. (It was just not believable having this middle-aged man utter lines like a lovestruck teenager.) He also doesn't seem especially Spanish in this.

Another flaw with Gilbert's performance is that his acting was still rooted in the silent film era. There were several instances where I cringed at his florid reactions, particularly when he finds out the truth about Christina in her throne room.

Not a bad performance by any means (Gilbert does good work in the inn scene where he is flummoxed by his attraction to Christina, who he thinks is a man) but, at root, he is just not believable. As one of the writers said about Antonio and Christina: "The love that inspires her finally to abdicate should be a tremendous thing . . ." Sadly, Gilbert wasn't able to convincingly portray the kind of man who would inspire a woman to give up a throne for him.

It is a moot point now but it is tempting to think who could have executed the part of Antonio successfully. Even if Garbo had liked Olivier, I'm not convinced he could have conveyed the needed charisma of Antonio in a naturalistic manner. (Bias alert: I find Olivier cold as a screen actor.) Ramon Novarro, who was still under contract to M-G-M at the time, could have played a Spaniard convincingly but, alas, he proved in his outing with Garbo in Mata Hari that he wasn't the most virile of leading men, which this part demanded. The only person who may have been able to successfully execute the part was Gilbert Roland. He certainly was virile enough, he could convincingly portray a Spaniard, and he had the kind of looks that would certainly tempt one to abdicate for him!

The print transfer for this film is only adequate and there is no commentary track.

Overall, I enjoyed Queen Christina but I wasn't blown away by it as I thought I would be given its reputation. I found much to admire in it (the concluding shot with Garbo on the prow of the ship is deservedly famous) and the film was certainly ahead of its time given the none-too-subtle nods to lesbianism, transvestism and general gender-bending ("I shall die a bachelor!").

Film grade: B+/A- (Can't decide.)
Garbo grade: A-/A (Can't decide.)
Gilbert grade: C (Sigh -- I take no pleasure in writing that.)

#97 papeetepatrick

papeetepatrick

    Sapphire Circle

  • Inactive Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,486 posts

Posted 28 August 2010 - 05:35 PM

Sadly, Gilbert isn't able to convincingly portray the kind of man who would inspire a woman to give up a throne for him.


Giving up thrones for people is always a bit difficult to understand, even 'for the woman I love' on radio--and that may be just the nadir.

I have little more to say about 'Queen Christina' that I haven't said elsewhere, but I enjoyed write-up, esp. the information about the writing melange, and also what you've put about the production costs.

I've watched 'Ninotchka' again recently, some 3 or 4 times half paying attention some of the time, then more closely, but I'll wait till you get to it before saying anything.

#98 miliosr

miliosr

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,561 posts

Posted 28 August 2010 - 06:01 PM

I have little more to say about 'Queen Christina' that I haven't said elsewhere, but I enjoyed write-up, esp. the information about the writing melange, and also what you've put about the production costs.

Queen Christina was, for its time, a very expensive picture to make. Not a problem in this instance as the walloping worldwide gross more than paid for it. But, Queen Christina was the harbinger for the problems Garbo faced as the 30s wore on -- the productions became more and more expensive and American audiences became less and less enamoured with her. (The foreign gross was more than double the American gross.) This may be the point where the tastes of the "Garbo unit" became too rareified for the average moviegoer of the day.

#99 papeetepatrick

papeetepatrick

    Sapphire Circle

  • Inactive Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,486 posts

Posted 28 August 2010 - 06:27 PM

This may be the point where the tastes of the "Garbo unit" became too rareified for the average moviegoer of the day.


Maybe, and I'll say just one thing about 'Ninotchka', vis-a-vis that rarefaction: I think that is where they try to make her less so, and that does continue with 'Two-Faced Woman'. I hadn't thought about this till recently, but she really doesn't work unless she can continue the bigger-than-life persona. I don't really see it till 'Ninotchka', and it occurred to me that she knew this too, and why she really didn't want to do any more movies. There are actors who can go in and out of rarefaction, but I don't think she could, and so she stayed in it, just not in films. Quite an interesting destiny in the 20th century, it seems to me--esp. since she lived a long life in what was surely a sense of isolation, even with friends.

#100 dirac

dirac

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 25,040 posts

Posted 28 August 2010 - 09:32 PM

Hello, miliosr, welcome back. Queen Christina’s not that great. However, I didn’t think the tavern scene was that bad and the bedroom scene is amazing, Garbo’s approach anticipates the Method. But apart from her there’s little else to watch.

Garbo is splendid in Ninotchka and it's an excellent movie if overrated in some quarters at one time. Two-Faced Woman was a more ordinary kind of farce, however, and Garbo was a fish out of water in it. At that point she and the studio realized the game wasn't worth the candle and until the European market opened up again Garbo and her expensive vehicles were no longer viable. Nobody viewed her retirement as necessarily permanent.




#101 papeetepatrick

papeetepatrick

    Sapphire Circle

  • Inactive Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,486 posts

Posted 29 August 2010 - 08:59 AM

Garbo was good in 'Ninotchka', but I think Ina Claire steals the show in spades. I hadn't realized how good she is here, and she made few films (I just looked them up, and don't know if any are worthwhile, never heard of any except 'Stage Door Canteen', where she appears as 'Herself', but I can't remember that.) This, despite a hairstyle which I find unattractive in the extreme, even though the stylist (just hers, mind you) gets special billing. I thought Garbo's hair was often overly contrived as well, it looks better when it's very smooth. She does sometimes look magnificent in her Soviet attire, although there are a few shots in which she looks distinctly older (though not at all unattractive). I was surprised at how good I thought Melvyn Douglas was this time around, though. A friend told me he'd heard that the famous 'laughing scene' was dubbed, but I don't know about that. I think it comes across very badly by now (has sort of a Marx Brothers feel to it), but must have been thrilling at the time.

Primarily, I see Garbo as actually 'working with the other actors' when I watch this--esp. in her scenes alone with Claire, who is pitch-perfect as this totally fatuous Grand Duchess ('Swana' is a genius name-choice)--and doesn't dominate in the way she had in a certain way before. It works because of the actors and the sets and costumes are beautiful (this is very good with the volume turned all the way down, as some of Garbo's lines, in particular, sound ridiculous when spoken), and it's snappily paced.

Although none of this makes me like it, except for Ina Claire's moments (and there are many more than I'd remembered.) I do like 'Queen Christina' very much, whether it's objectively good or bad doesn't matter a whit to me, it's one of the 'pure Garbo-movies' as such, even if its greatness doesn't go beyond that. She's much better at

her facing down of the commoners on the palace steps

than she is at play-acting a socialist, or even enjoying just being more 'social' with her fellow-actors. As you say, miliosr, her feeling for Gilbert is important, and that may account for the sincerity one feels in some of the scenes in 'Queen Christina'.

Gilbert Roland. He certainly was virile enough, he could convincingly portray a Spaniard, and he had the kind of looks that would certainly tempt one to abdicate for him!




Anyone who has seen 'The Bullfighter and the Lady' will know what you mean, but Garbo was well-beyond not being able to resist this sort of thing. I think her feeling for John Gilbert was far more important than I'd realized, and your pointing out her insistence on him for the part is exactly right: She clearly still loved him, or she wouldn't have gone to such pains to secure the part for him; although she didn't want to go back to 'being lovers', I'm sure this affection for him plays a more vital role in what is best about 'queen christina' than even I had thought. In a sense, she does a sort of 'abdication' for John Gilbert in championing him (rather an extraordinary tribute, isn't it, when the only person in Hollywood that will go all the way to bat for you is also the biggest star?) Now 'loving Gilbert Roland' is another matter, Dietrich would have been the type to have seen why Gilbert Roland would have been just the one she'd abdicate for--at least for the run-of-the-picture.

edited to add:

"Garbo had a long memory."


That's marvelous and illuminating. I think it explains part of what her genius is. A 'long memory' is a truly aristocratic trait, I think, and doesn't have to do with bloodlines, etc., as hers were none too lofty, as we know.

#102 miliosr

miliosr

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,561 posts

Posted 04 September 2010 - 03:41 PM

Garbo was good in 'Ninotchka', but I think Ina Claire steals the show in spades.

Irony of ironies -- the third Mrs. John Gilbert

Primarily, I see Garbo as actually 'working with the other actors' when I watch this--esp. in her scenes alone with Claire, who is pitch-perfect as this totally fatuous Grand Duchess ('Swana' is a genius name-choice)--and doesn't dominate in the way she had in a certain way before.

The interesting thing about Garbo is that her male co-stars never outclassed her. Even equals like Gilbert (in the silents) and John Barrymore matched her but never outpaced her. Sometimes she had trouble with female co-stars, though. Marie Dressler got the best of her in the English Anna Christie and much testimony exists to the effect that Ina Claire (in Ninotchka) and Constance Bennett (in Two-Faced Woman) stole many scenes from her. (Bennett so much so that many of her scenes were cut.)

As you say, miliosr, her feeling for Gilbert is important, and that may account for the sincerity one feels in some of the scenes in 'Queen Christina'.


I think her feeling for John Gilbert was far more important than I'd realized, and your pointing out her insistence on him for the part is exactly right: She clearly still loved him, or she wouldn't have gone to such pains to secure the part for him; although she didn't want to go back to 'being lovers', I'm sure this affection for him plays a more vital role in what is best about 'queen christina' than even I had thought.

In his book on Garbo, Mark Vieira relates an alternately heartbreaking and beautiful story about Garbo and Gilbert. When the hoped-for comeback didn't materialze after the release of Queen Christina, Gilbert retreated deeper and deeper into the bottle. Gilbert was friends with Ronald Colman, who, along with David Niven, would use Gilbert's pool even though Gilbert was often "indisposed". David Niven relates the following:

'Often [Gilbert] did not appear at all, and Colman and I would take a swim in his sad, leaf-filled pool. Once or twice I caught a glimpse of a beautiful face watching us from a window, and on one occasion, as we were climbing into Colman's car, a figure in a man's shirt, slacks, and a big floppy hat approached from the scrub-covered hills, and, with head down, hurried past us into the house. "When Jack's drinking, she goes walking," said Colman phlegmatically.'

#103 miliosr

miliosr

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,561 posts

Posted 04 September 2010 - 04:48 PM

Moving on . . . by moving back.

Although Anna Karenina is next in the cue, I thought it would be interesting to take a step back in time and discuss Garbo's first two attempts at portraying this character (as a point of comparison to the later film.) In some sense, the character of Anna Karenina is the definitive Garbo part since M-G-M had her film it no less than three times.

In April of 1927, after a six month strike on Garbo's part, she returned to M-G-M and began filming Anna Karenina. M-G-M assigned Dmitri Buchowetski to direct and cast Ricardo Cortez as Vronsky and Lionel Barrymore as Karenin. Had Garbo completed the film, it would have been her fourth feature for M-G-M.

However, Garbo only completed about ten days worth of shooting before she took ill and disappeared from the studio. Buchowetski tried to shoot around her but, eventually, producer Irving Thalberg gave up and shuttered the production after six weeks of work and a cost of $100,000.

Try as I might, I could not find any indication that the footage with Garbo in it still exists. There are some surviving stills from the production that hint at what might have been. (Cortez, in particular, looks smashing as Vronsky.) But as for the remnants of the film itself, these are not readily available -- if at all.

M-G-M was not about to give up on Greta Garbo as Anna Karenina, though. In the summer of 1927, the studio launched a recast and reconstituted Anna -- which will be the next film to be discussed in this ongoing thread.

Coming up: Greta Garbo and John Gilbert in Love!

#104 miliosr

miliosr

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,561 posts

Posted 05 September 2010 - 05:27 PM

Moving on . . .

Love (Premiere: November 29, 1927)
Cast: Garbo (Anna Karenina), John Gilbert (Vronsky), Brandon Hurst (Karenin)
Director: Edmund Goulding
Cinematographer: William Daniels
Production Cost: $488,000 Worldwide Gross: $1,677,000 Profit: $571,000

Love was Garbo's fourth picture for M-G-M and second picture with John Gilbert. (Note: This film is not included in the Garbo box set. I had to purchase it separately for comparison purposes.)

After the first attempt at filming Anna Karenina ground to a halt due to Garbo's illness, Irving Thalberg cancelled the production and prepared a new production with John Gilbert replacing Ricardo Cortez as Vronsky. Thalberg had every reason to want to reunite the two stars. Flesh and the Devil was a huge success for M-G-M and Thalberg had to have hoped that Garbo and Gilbert's chemistry from the first film would carry over to the second film.

(Fun fact: The original title for this production was supposed to be Heat until someone helpfully pointed out that a marquee which read 'John Gilbert and Greta Garbo in Heat' really wasn't the effect they were reaching for. So, the title became Love, which, after all, was a more clever way to capitalize on the Garbo-Gilbert romance.)

If you are looking for a faithful adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's novel, this isn't it. (The film is more Louis B. Mayer's Anna Karenina than Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, if you know what I mean.) Nevertheless, the bare bones of the story remain intact.

Garbo is inconsistent in Love. She is strong in her romantic scenes with Gilbert and her (somewhat incestuous) maternal scenes with the child actor playing her son. Elsewhere, though, she does not much give the impression of a woman who is a member of aristocratic circles in Imperial Russia. Also, she does not always appear as distraught as she should given the predicament she has gotten herself into. My suspicion is that both problems were a function of her age. She was only 21 during the making of Love, and her youth and relative inexperience may have prevented her from taking the full measure of the part.

Gilbert is very strong in this -- he captures the part of Vronsky perfectly. He is also ridiculously good-looking and his "male modelly" physique -- wide shoulders and a narrow waist -- allow him to wear a succession of Russian military uniforms with great style.

Garbo and Gilbert are dynamite together in their romantic scenes and these, really, are the highlight of the picture. Even at a remove of 83 years, one can see the chemistry that drove audiences into theaters.

In terms of capturing the flavor of Imperial Russia, the movie is all over the place. The men look impressive in their military uniforms but the women's dresses look wrong for the period -- too 'Imperial flapper' in style. Still, M-G-M obviously spent a lot of money on this production and that money can definitely be seen on-screen.

As was its custom, M-G-M prepared two endings to Love -- a happy ending for American audiences and a sad ending for European audiences. The European ending, of course, tracks with Tolstoy's ending -- Anna kills herself. The American ending (which is the only one contained on the disc) has Anna disappearing for three years. Vronsky searches for her during this time but only finds her when he realizes Karenin is dead and Anna is living in St. Petersburg again. Didn't believe a second of the happy ending as Karenin's death doesn't solve Anna's problem (she is still a known adultress.) But, Garbo and Gilbert get to be in a clinch as the movie fades out so that compensates in its way.

The disc contains no commentary track but does have a very nice score that was recorded live during the screening of this movie at UCLA. The print transfer is very good although the source material is a little rough in spots.

Film grade (as an adaptation): B-
Film grade (as a Garbo-Gilbert picture): A
Garbo grade: B- (Too young to be playing this part.)
Gilbert grade: A-

Coming up: The 1935 Anna Karenina with Garbo, Fredric March, Basil Rathbone and Freddie Bartholomew.

#105 yiannisfrance

yiannisfrance

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 49 posts

Posted 06 September 2010 - 12:37 AM

Hello

I am new to this forum as you can see (I have been trying to register for some time now). I live in France and I love ballet (Sylvie Guillem is my favorite dancer) but I love Garbo above anything else.

I was reading with great interest the various appreciations of the Garbo films described here.

Just recenbtly, I attended the International Film Festival of La Rochelle (at the beginnings of July) where they paid tribute to Garbo' silents (they showd "Goesta Berliong's Saga", "The street of sorrow", "Flesh and the Devil", "Love", "The mysterious Lady", "Woman of Affairs", "The kiss" and the extract from "The Divine Woman". "Love" was one of the films shown there and the audience loved it. The house was packed and what they did love above all was Garbo. I have to respectfully disagree with the above review, especially regarding Garbo's performance in the film. For sure she was a bit young for the part, but her youth combined with her inner maturity and mystique make wonders in this film.

I personally find her heartbreaking in "Love". She si passionate in her films with Gilbert, but she also shows a touching venrerabilty which is very appealing and which is close to Tolstoy's description of Anna. Whern she realises that she has fallen in love with Vronsky-Gilbert, there is a wonderful scene in her room where she is deeply lost in her thoughts and she touchingly tries to convince her husband to go away for some time (in vain) so she can run away from Vronsky (and escape from her feelings for him). Garbo tells the audience everything in this scene: her doubts, her growing love for Vronsky, her alienation from her husband and she is all movement and grace (as Luise Brooks so wisely said about Garbo's acting).

Her scenes with Philippe de Lacy, wonderfully portraying her son, are breattaking. Innocent, moving and most sensual. The scene where she pays a stolen visit to her son after her return to St Petersburg allows us to see Garbo at her very best as a tragedienne. She is constantly exposed to our scrutiny through Goudling's direction and yet she never fails to move us and make us share with her her feelings, her love for her son, her sadness, her tragic destiny and social destitution as faces her cold and severe husband who will chase her out of her house.

Gilbert reportedly directed their subsequent farewell scene where Anna sacrifices herself so that she will not ruin Vronsky's career. Garbo does the scene beautifully, lovignly kissing and touching Gilbert and kissing his sword with sensuality. As he leaves the door she raises her hands in desperation, an extraordinary gesture towards his direction, a tragic woman who has lost everything and as she turns towards us, her fatalistic suicidal intentions are most clear and striking (In La Rochelle they showed both endings of the film, the tragic and happy ending at the same time!).

Although she was very young at the time (22) I believe that she made the part of Anna unforgettable and although I love her later portrayal of Karenina (where she is more mature and "perfect" on a dramatic level) I tend to prefer this vertsion since there is an open sensuality and a radiant quality about Grabo here which is most appealing to me.

Regarding Gilbert I think that although he works wonderfully with Garbo as a couple, his acting is uneven as Vronsky. He does have tendencies to fall into some traps of "silent" acting (as opening wide his eyes whenever he sees Garbo as he did this in "Flesh and the Devil"). Garbo even when she loses a scene (as in the race chases) she never falls into this kind of trap, she never plays a scene as a "typical silent actress" would play it. And she always regains a scene with in a majestuous way.

Just a few more thoughts on Garbo. I personally consider her a genious of acting (the greatest) and a most fascinating and radiant actress. her genious lies int he fact that she does not just "acts up" her parts, but she goes deeply into them and manages to express all sorts of different feelings, as well as various physical and mental states which she shares with her audience. Once sensitive to her acting each member of the audience sees not only the character before him/her but also his/her own life and feelings. A close up of Garbo is never just an instrument to show us how extraordinarily ebautiful she is but above all a privilidged moment where we enter her inner world and through that we see our own life and feelings.

Contrary to what often is written about her, she is a most diversified actress. She can be convincing as a femme fatale as in "Flesh and the Devil", sensual and enigmatic in a very feminine way as in "The mysterious Lady", modern and fascinating as in "Woman of Affairs". And she can handle with ease great stage parts as in "Anna Christie" (especially in the German version) or "As youd desire me".

"Queen Christina" is one of the most powerful female screen portrayals of all times. What is amazing in this film is that Mamoulian tells us the story of Queen Christian (and Garbo's personna) thourh Garbo's point of view in each single scene. We have a feminist point of view throughout the film. Garbo is incomparable in the part. Majestic in her scenes with the crowd, she displays a great sense of humour in her private scenes and at the inn where she glows with a fascinating touch of androgyny she makes us dream of her in Shakesperean parts (As you like it" or "Twelfth night).

What to say about "Camille"? The performance of a lifetime and any lifetime I would say (the subject will come up later). Simply love her in one of her least known and neglected parts in "The painted veil" where she is divinely simple and compex at the same time. Nothing tragic, or femme fatale here, just a simple, torn woman who discovers the mysteries of life little by little. As played by Garbo this "ordinary" character becomes trully extraordinary. A pity also that "Woman fo Affairs" was not included in the DVD box wih Garbo. It was the first time that she adopted a modern look thanks to her collaboration with Adrian and this in my opinion is by far her greatest performance in her silent films and also among her very greatest (with "Camille").


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):