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The Films of Greta GarboReview & Appreciation Thread


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#121 yiannisfrance

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Posted 09 September 2010 - 12:28 AM

. It's interesting how the morality of the time insisted that Diana, as a "scandalous woman," be treated badly by everyone and ultimately sacrifice herself, but that doesn't diminish the allure of her freedom and unconventional sexuality. Which is also true of other pictures Garbo was making around this time.


Very true

Garbo is a true tragic heroine and like every genuine tragic figure she meets her fate which very often takes the form of death. In "woman of Affairs" this is particularly true, but what is more striking is that despite the moral outcry which makes Garbo un outcast, the audience always is on her side. This is so because Garbo makes us fully understand her motivations of her character and allow us to share her inner world. It also has something to do with Garbo's generous and radiant nature as an actress and her capacity to understand others and forgive (eneven her foes like Gilbert's father).

And above all she is her own master, both strong and vulnerable at the same time she decides for her own fate, so her suicide does not seem like a punishment but rather becomes a victorious act over a society of hypocrites.

Also agree regarding the previous post on Valentino he was marvellous in the "Four horsement of the Apocalypse" his best performance in my opinion.

#122 dirac

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Posted 24 September 2010 - 05:40 AM

Seen any Garbo pictures lately? :)

#123 yiannisfrance

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Posted 24 September 2010 - 09:07 AM

The other day since it was Garbo's birthday on the 18th I watched a couple of her films. "Susan Lennox Her Fall and rise" with a young Clark Gable is a film usually neglected and dismissed by critics in Grabo's filmography.

I personally love it. Garbo and Gable are marvellous together. Garbo's early scenes when she finds refuge at Gable's cabin are astonishing, so natural, sensual and pure at the same time. It is tempting to say that Garbo was rarely photographed as brilliantly by her favorite cameraman William Daniels as in this film (and this says much as he awlays did an astonishong job).

"Caviar", asks Gable a relaxed Garbo dressed in his art-deco pyjamas. "Is that to eat" she asks with amazement and then bursts into an adorable contagious laughter.When they go fishing the next day, the fun and open sensuality is stille evident in their interaction.

When Gable prepares to leave for an architect's contest leaving Garbo alone, we have a series of playful moments with her hiding his shaving things and running like a happy kid around the room (another blow to the widely spread Garbo myth which assumes that Garbo is a humorless and cold femme fatale. See these scenes and you will see just the opposite). She is even capable of creating something moving out of nowhere as when she grasps a photo of Gable's parents loooks at it attentively and says with sadness and tenderness. "I never had a picture of my mother, I guess she never had one taken, just like she never had a ring". Only Grabo can give meaning to such sentences creating something moving and magical.

Even when the film becomes what we may call an exotic melodrama, the charm still operates, thanks to Grabo's acting, beauty and magnetic presence and her interaction with Gable (a sort of love and hate relationship)


I highly recommend this film to any Garbo and/or Gable fans and unfortunately it was not released on DVD yet.

#124 papeetepatrick

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Posted 24 September 2010 - 09:16 AM

Yannis, your description of images in 'Susan Lennox' is stupendous. I finally find someone who loves this film the way I do. I agree it's totally underrated. All the details you've chosen to emphasize do, in fact, offer a kind of 'way to look at' this film. But the whole film is exotic, it has an atmosphere all its own, and that cabin is another world, just as the diner in the original of 'Postman Always Lives Twice' has an other-worldly atmosphere. Great writing, monsieur.

#125 yiannisfrance

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Posted 24 September 2010 - 02:00 PM

Oh, merci Monsieur. I am trully glad you like this film, I love it and really feel protective towards it (maybe because so many people dislike it, ot simply ignore it) and it is so enjoyable in every way. I wish Garbo had made more films with Gable.

I will be going on vacation for a week tomorrow but I will be back soon and hope to hear more on Garbo's films. A bientôt.

#126 dirac

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Posted 24 September 2010 - 04:58 PM

Susan Lenox is a curio - odd but interesting, in a good way. Gable and Garbo generate quite a bit of heat. It is interesting to speculate on what kind of movies they could have made together - Gable was not at home in the heavy historical vehicles Garbo began making in the 30s, and I can't imagine Garbo in, say, Test Pilot.

Hope to hear more from you when you return, yiannisfrance. We still have a few precincts not yet reporting. miliosr? (Or anyone else who'd like to yak about Garbo?)

#127 miliosr

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Posted 25 September 2010 - 03:46 PM

Moving on . . .

Anna Karenina (Premiere: August 30, 1935)
Cast: Garbo (Anna Karenina), Fredric March (Vronsky), Basil Rathbone (Karenin), Freddie Bartholomew (Sergei), Maureen O'Sullivan (Kitty)
Director: Clarence Brown
Cinematographer: William Daniels
Gowns by: Adrian
Production Cost: ? U.S. Gross: $865,000 Overseas Gross: $1,439,000 Profit: $320,000

Anna Karenina was Garbo's twenty-first picture for M-G-M, eleventh talkie and third attempt at portraying Tolstoy's heroine.

Truly this is a lavish production in the grand M-G-M manner. From the very first moment, the viewer can see that M-G-M spared no expense on costumes, sets, props, extras, etc. By and large, the movie is quite faithful to the period in terms of its look (although I half expected to see Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers come skittering across the highly polished entry hall floor of the Karenin mansion!)

Garbo is exquisite in this -- miles better than her performance as Anna in Love. The passage of seven years from the filming of Love to the filming of Anna Karenina revealed a greater subtlety in her acting (which was already pronounced in 1927) and, more importantly, a more aristocratic cast to her bearing. In Love, I thought her lack of physical polish at that time betrayed her at every turn. But here, she surmounts the physical challenges of playing an aristocrat in Imperial Russia with ease.

Another welcome development between 1927 and 1935 was her banishment of certain gaucheries in her acting. Compare the race scene in Love and the horse race in Anna Karenina. One sees quite a difference -- and not just because one is a silent film and one is a sound film.

Fredric March is strong as Vronsky -- certainly he was a more naturalistic actor than John Gilbert. Nevertheless, I found him somewhat stolid as a romantic lead. The only real problem I had with this picture is that I never found the love between Anna and Vronsky to be believable -- the chemistry was not there between the leads. If only M-G-M could have combined Gilbert's sexual charisma with March's superior acting ability . . .

Basil Rathbone is outstanding as Karenin and he holds his own against Garbo -- no mean feat. Interestingly, he's really not in the movie that much and yet his presence dominates.

By all accounts, Garbo hated working with child star Freddie Bartholomew (who played her son) and yet you would never know it from their scenes together. Garbo shows a real warmth with Bartholomew (and with the other child actors in the picture.) I suppose Bartholomew's performance is fine although I have always found him somewhat prissy and he is certainly no different here. The child actor in Love is better to my way of thinking.

Maureen O'Sullivan is effective in a supporting part as Kitty.

There are many, many beautifully composed and shot scenes in this film including Anna's emergence from a cloud of steam at the Moscow train station, the grand ball, the horse race, Venice and the dramatic final scenes at the Moscow train station. My favorite, though, was the scene where Anna slowly strides out of Karenin's house as he shouts "Do you hear?" after her. Perfect!

The disc contains no commentary track. The print transfer is very strong.

Film grade: A
Garbo grade: A
March grade: A-
Rathbone grade: A+

#128 papeetepatrick

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Posted 25 September 2010 - 03:52 PM

Fredric March is strong as Vronsky -- certainly he was a more naturalistic actor than John Gilbert. Nevertheless, I found him somewhat stolid as a romantic lead. The only real problem I had with this picture is that I never found the love between Anna and Vronsky to be believable -- the chemistry was not there between the leads. If only M-G-M could have combined Gilbert's sexual charisma with March's superior acting ability . . .


I didn't find him strong, but not quite weak either. I don't think he's ever bad, just also never interesting. If he had been, it would be a great film, and I guess I think it stops just short of that.

#129 Quiggin

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Posted 26 September 2010 - 11:50 AM

I haven't seen this film since I was eight when I sat down to watch it on television at my aunt and uncle's - for what turned out to be the last reel - and saw Greta Garbo, so beautiful, wandering alongside a wonderful old train engine and lots of steam in the air. Well that ending changed the mood of the afternoon quite a bit. I was quiet as a mouse the rest of the day ...

Regarding who should play Vronsky, isn't he a fairly weak character worried mostly about the appearance of his uniform and impending appearance of a bald spot? Frederick March - if weak, weak in the wrong way - sounds like a bad choice - it might as well be Gene Kelly. Leslie Howard would be too sensitive and self aware. Farley Granger?

#130 papeetepatrick

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Posted 26 September 2010 - 12:41 PM

Regarding who should play Vronsky, isn't he a fairly weak character worried mostly about the appearance of his uniform and impending appearance of a bald spot? Frederick March - if weak, weak in the wrong way - sounds like a bad choice - it might as well be Gene Kelly. Leslie Howard would be too sensitive and self aware. Farley Granger?


Charles Boyer would have been fine with me doing two movies with Garbo. Like Gable and Ina Claire (and Gilbert in an idiosyncratic personal way), he knew how to be on her level. Yes, he could even be wooden and vain, that's okay. Just needs to be dashing and somewhat sensitive. Definitely the thought of Leslie Howard in the part makes one nearly retch.

#131 Quiggin

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Posted 26 September 2010 - 03:10 PM

Charles Boyer would be great I agree and would play well with Garbo. But he would make Vronsky a more sympathetic character than Tolstoy intended - who was, as I remember, fairly limited and vain.

#132 dirac

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Posted 26 September 2010 - 04:10 PM

I haven't seen this film since I was eight when I sat down to watch it on television at my aunt and uncle's - for what turned out to be the last reel - and saw Greta Garbo, so beautiful, wandering alongside a wonderful old train engine and lots of steam in the air. Well that ending changed the mood of the afternoon quite a bit. I was quiet as a mouse the rest of the day ...

Regarding who should play Vronsky, isn't he a fairly weak character worried mostly about the appearance of his uniform and impending appearance of a bald spot? Frederick March - if weak, weak in the wrong way - sounds like a bad choice - it might as well be Gene Kelly. Leslie Howard would be too sensitive and self aware. Farley Granger?


Fredric March is the best movie Vronsky I've seen. When you consider that the role might have gone to Robert Taylor, he looks even better. ( Invariably screen Vronskys come in for a fair amount of criticism. Either they're all flawed, which is possible, or the role is harder than it looks.) He lacks dash and you feel he's a little too responsible, but he's very good.

Granger is far too soft and squishy, IMO. I thought he was a liability in Senso as well, in a similar role. It would have been an interesting role for the young Olivier, still callow in 1935 but worth a try.

The movie is classic MGM - just don't come looking for Tolstoy or much of a Tolstoyan sensibility. Well acted, well staged in the studio's grand manner, and it's a measure of Garbo's talent that even though she is not quite at her best she's still the supreme Anna.

Garbo shows a real warmth with Bartholomew (and with the other child actors in the picture).


I thought they were perhaps her best scenes in the picture. She has a real maternal glow, tender with no soppiness.

#133 dirac

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Posted 27 October 2010 - 09:17 PM

Gee, I was looking forward to talking about Camille....



#134 miliosr

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Posted 28 October 2010 - 03:34 AM

Camille is coming, dirac. I've had a busier than expected Fall so I haven't gotten to it yet!

#135 dirac

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Posted 28 October 2010 - 09:10 PM

:)


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