Greta Garbo

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Hollywood Costume - press view held at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

L, Camelot, Vanessa Redgrave, R, Guinevere, Queen Christina and Greta Garbo - L) Camelot - Vanessa Redgrave as Guinevere; (R) Queen Christina - Greta Garbo as Queen Christina Wednesday 17th October 2012 Hollywood Costume - press view held at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Grand Hotel Review


OK
"People come and people go, and nothing ever happens at the Grand Hotel." Thus observes Dr. Otternschlag (Lewis Stone) of the Berlin hotel that serves as the setting for the Oscar-winning 1932 film. The film, like the hotel, is packed with opulence, and the cast was, at the time, the highest concentration of starpower the screen had ever seen: Greta Garbo as the dancer Grusinskaya whose cold surface is softened by a budding romance with Baron Geigern (John Barrymore); Lionel Barrymore as Otto Kringelein, a critically ill man on an end-of-his-life spree and a former employee of the company owned by the industrialist Preysing (Wallace Beery), whom he dislikes; Joan Crawford as the staff typist who takes up with the sick man; and a supporting cast -- Jean Hersholt, Robert McWade, Ferdinand Gottschalk -- whose fame has dimmed today, but who represented the cream of the crop in a Depression-stricken America.

In 1932, however, the sum was even greater than its parts, and Grand Hotel was such an event that the New York Times review had as much to do with the chaos of the opening-night crowd as with the film itself. Based on the hit Vicki Baum novel, the film introduced the so-called portmanteau genre (Dinner at Eight was the most famed of the follow-ups) in which the lives and stories of a group of diverse people are brought together by circumstances and emerge changed. It also featured Garbo's most repeated line ("I want to be alone"), and its lavish production makes it a touchstone in MGM and Hollywood history.

Continue reading: Grand Hotel Review

Queen Christina Review


OK
Widely (and strangely) considered one of Garbo's best films, Queen Christina is a loosely historical romance about a Scandinavian woman who becomes queen at age five. As an adult (as Garbo), Christina becomes jaded with ruling the country and escapes to the countryside in the guise of a man (which Garbo achieves by wearing a hat and lowering her voice). The funniest moment comes when a disguised Garbo is given a coin... with her face on it. Ha! Unfortunately, once the film turns into a romance, the movie degenerates into a snoozy Catholic vs. Protestant melodrama as Christina is wooed by a Spanish noble.

Anna Christie Review


Weak
Demanding a whiskey (which she is offered the chance to receive in a pail), Greta Garbo made her first, historic spoken words in this film. (I have to imagine audiences of the era must have been horrified to hear how deep and thickly accented it was.) The story is rambling melodrama that must have felt right at home when it first aired, in the heart of the Great Depression, comprising vignettes that include a souse returning to town from Minnesota (!), a sinking boat, a trip to Coney Island, a broken engagement, and -- of course -- a past that will have to be revealed in the end. Extremely popular in its day, the film was shot a second time on the same sets but with a different crew and in German. The DVD includes both versions, allowing you to nod off before the end twice.

Grand Hotel Review


OK
"People come and people go, and nothing ever happens at the Grand Hotel." Thus observes Dr. Otternschlag (Lewis Stone) of the Berlin hotel that serves as the setting for the Oscar-winning 1932 film. The film, like the hotel, is packed with opulence, and the cast was, at the time, the highest concentration of starpower the screen had ever seen: Greta Garbo as the dancer Grusinskaya whose cold surface is softened by a budding romance with Baron Geigern (John Barrymore); Lionel Barrymore as Otto Kringelein, a critically ill man on an end-of-his-life spree and a former employee of the company owned by the industrialist Preysing (Wallace Beery), whom he dislikes; Joan Crawford as the staff typist who takes up with the sick man; and a supporting cast -- Jean Hersholt, Robert McWade, Ferdinand Gottschalk -- whose fame has dimmed today, but who represented the cream of the crop in a Depression-stricken America.

In 1932, however, the sum was even greater than its parts, and Grand Hotel was such an event that the New York Times review had as much to do with the chaos of the opening-night crowd as with the film itself. Based on the hit Vicki Baum novel, the film introduced the so-called portmanteau genre (Dinner at Eight was the most famed of the follow-ups) in which the lives and stories of a group of diverse people are brought together by circumstances and emerge changed. It also featured Garbo's most repeated line ("I want to be alone"), and its lavish production makes it a touchstone in MGM and Hollywood history.

Continue reading: Grand Hotel Review

Camille Review


Grim
Dreadfully boring romance "classic" has Garbo as a 1847's French courtesan, trapped in a loveless relationship with a rich man while forsaking her younger, hotter lover. Cliched and endless, and while it was probably original in 1937, the novelty of the film is far from assured today. Desperately overacted by Garbo, many claim Camille is her best work. Sorry, I'll stick with Grand Hotel.

Continue reading: Camille Review

Ninotchka Review


Excellent
As a sex symbol, Greta Garbo may seem like an odd choice -- she lacked the drop-dead gorgeousness of subsequent Swedes like Ingrid Bergman -- but few stars have built or maintained a bigger reputation in Hollywood. A silent film star, Garbo caused a sensation when American audiences finally heard her voice ("Garbo talks!"). Ninotchka is one of Garbo's few comedies, and part of its success is because the script plays off of the actress' slightly stiff, very foreign demeanor.

Garbo plays Ninotchka, a Soviet envoy sent to Paris to sell jewels that belonged to a former Russian duchess now turned Parisian socialite (Ina Claire). Melvyn Douglas is a count who becomes infatuated with Ninotchka and tries to divert her away from her duty to the Party. It's not Casablanca -- but it's not just another frothy romantic comedy either, thanks to Garbo's performance and the clever screenplay by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett (who also co-wrote the legendary Sunset Boulevard and The Lost Weekend).

Continue reading: Ninotchka Review

Greta Garbo

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