|There too is an unfilmed movie script Victor Sjostrom had planned to film, his having by then returned to Sweden while Greta Garbo look-alike contest was being filmed there.|
Biographer Norman Zierold has written that Garbo’s plasticity made it possible for her to relect the fantasies of her screen audiences; in this sense she functioned as a recepticle for the emotions of others.” In keeping with the Greta Garbo that was nearly unknown to movie audiences for her personal life offscreen and had lurked in the shadows of movie theaters as a recluse after her retirement as though she could at anytime be sitting right beside any of us during without anyone knowing during a movie house screening of one of her films while as spectators we made identifications with each interpellated nuance, I added, ”These emotional structures are created within each particular film, often by subject and spectator positioning, the viewer and the film’s other characters in relation to the body of the actress, as when her body within the frame creates space between two characters in front of the camera, isolating them near a specific visual motif, or when Garbo briefly moves into the emotion of solitude.” But then clearly the relationship between character and landscape and its interaction with subject positioning and or spectatorial position can also differ widely from one director to another, as when comparing almost any of the films of Victor Sjostrom with those of Carl Th. Dreyer. As a geocities page it went on to unspool into really simple syndication, ”And yet, not only was Greta Garbo an actress, a figure of shadow sauntering across the screen, gracefullness moving as image, but insofaras she was sought after, she was also a model, paticularly when photographed by Arnold Genthe, Ruth Harriet Louise, Clarence Sinclair Bull, George Hurrel, Edward Stiechen or Cecil Beaton. Garbo had brought with her this quality of being a model long after the last publicity photo of her in studio costume and into the enigma of her being a recluse only sporadicly considering coming back. it was the quality of being a model that is particularly evident in the photographs taken by Nickolas Muray, whether it is an ebullient Garbo, a pensive, or longing Garbo, or an ethereal Garbo that brings us only to the beginning of her mystery.” I later read that Betsy Errikila had in a similar way had Mr. Zierold as a point of departure in her article Greta Garbo: Sailing Beyond the Frame, which appeared in the magazine Critical Inquiry, ”Norman Zierold has said:’As a love object she combined the sensual appeal, femininity with a mannish quotient.’ Critics have failed, however, to note how this double-voiced intonation in garbo’s characterizations functions as a stategy of submission and transgression. Embodying both fleshly and otherworldly powers, Garbo’s screen characters often seem to exist both within and outside the film frame.”
As a webpage I had written, it began, ”By contrast, the value of the silent film that Greta Garbo made in Hollywood is sentimental. They were melodramas made after Greta Garbo was discovered in Europe,” and, after giving a brief filmography of the films with the description of The Kiss (Kyssen, Feyeder, seven reels, 1929) being ”one of her most beautiful films in that it is one of her most melodramatic” it added that ”each film can bee seen only for the being reminded of having first seen each of the films and the darkened room where the decades from the long past can flicker into intrigues and adventures.” My Silent Swedish Film webpage, which covered from the turn of century to the advent of sound, was a Geocities webpage. It was also, while in part a filmography of silent film of the Swedish directors of Svenska Bio and Svenska Filmindustri,Mauritz Stiller, Victor Sjostrom, John Brunius and Georg af Klerker, my biography of the actress Greta Garbo. On a sheet of revision later I added that ”whether one person is watching an old Greta Garbo movie on television while the other is reading, waiting for the other to retire for the evening, with each film, and with each screening, Garbo, like Anna-Lena Hemstrom, who portrays an actress who gradually, surrendering to fantasy believes herself to be each of the characters Greta Garbo played on screen in The Perfect Murder (Det Perfekte Mord, (Eva Isaksen) reintroduces herself to us and in each different characterization is foremost a fashion model before us; Greta Garbo is in a close-up”. And yet there is now something more mystical to the ghost of Garbo for any, and maybe every reviewer of of Eva Isaksen’s suspense film knowing that in Stockholm, near the Calle Flygare theater, there perhaps may be a young actress named Ottiliana Rolandsson who has left a screening of the film Queen Christina with the words ”I am Greta Garbo” slowly forming silently on her lips, and in her hands a copy of a play. I still have a love for silent film, which skyrocketed after having looked at The Last Tycoon and The Garden of Eden- a type of telepathy must have arisen with one of the most beautiful women presently in the world of fashion, as though we must have spoken in that her webpage resonates a similar sentiment. ”I was raised with silent films. I have always maintained an endless fascination by that era. Greta Garbo has gotten to me more than any other movie star and never let me go. I am strongly drawn to her story, her art, her loneliness and her beautiful complex structure.” Carice Van Houten, from the Netherlands, is to become Greta Garbo in her new film, a screenplay being prepared by scriptwriter Soni Jorgensen for the autumn of 2013. While looking foward to the new film, although my Geocities review Anna-Lena Hemstrom in her portrayal of a modern actress who becomes more than too immersed in her similarities to Greta Garbo no longer exists, actually, I recently realized that I had been given a ”thank you” by a popular webpage on Greta Garbo, Garbo Forever, for the information used in their review that was prompted by my review.
| Just as lost films have left behind their accompanying movie posters, as well as full page magazine advertisements that serve very much like movie posters when deciding not if we should see the film but what the film was like when first seen, each hardcover copy of an film adaptation into novel included a dustjacket, art that gives information about missing films: within there being Lost Films, Found Magazines. It is imperative that the word film study be surplanted by the word film appreciation: it was in 1946 that author Iris Barry cautioned the readers of Hollywood Quarterly through the article ”Why wait for Posterity” as to films quickly becoming lost and the need to preserve the ”romantic” Greta Garbo film The Saga of Gosta Berling (Stiller, 1925) by saving the prints from deterioration. After explaining that the original two-color technicolor copies of the Black Pirate that had belonged to Douglas Fairbanks and Harvard University, respectively, were in a vault ”at the point of final deterioration”, and could only be duplicated in black-and-white form, she qualifies that the criteria for screening film need, as with ”the early Seastrom films”, only be pleasure. ”What, really is the point of dragging old films back to light? First, I believe that it benefits the general esteem and standing of the motion picture industry as a whole; for if the great films of the past are not worth taking seriously and are not worth re-examination, then presumably neither are the great films of today. It would be unthinkable if the only books available to literary men and women should be no more than those published in the past year or so.” Author Richard Corliss begins eloquently with an interesting note on The Saga of Gosta Berling, ”Mauritz Stiller, famed for his intense melodramas and subtly wicked comedies, took a Selma Lagerlof novel and three images from it onto his celluloid canvas with the force and color of a Jackson Pollock. But more than an hour of the original four is missing from the most complete extant print and the version circulated in the United States is a mere 105 minutes.” He points out that Stiller was deservedly sought after by Hollywood as a director due to the extraordinary material, or ”screen scenes”, in the film.
I’ve also since returned to the downloading photos of Greta Garbo that were scanned from the original negative and e-mailed to me by an author who was who was an apprentice of Clarence Sinclair Bull. In that they were photos of Greta Garbo that were left over from the publication, please accept that I may have been the author to introduce those particular photos to Sweden from the vault in which they were kept. But it is not only that, having resumed writing I recieved a reply from Norman Zierold, whose biography of Greta Garbo was publishes decades before that of the one written by Mark. A Vieria. My question was phrased,”I need a quote from correspondence on the silent film of Greta Garbo. How do you now feel about any of the particular films,i.e. The Divine Woman?” to which he replied, ”No comment I can think of. Are you related to literary agent Sterling Lord?” To begin 2013, Mr. Zierold replied to my having sent him a Christmas card, ”Very neat thinking, Scott. And pleased to see that gorgeous photo of Garbo that you used.” It seems I owe him a discussion about Ralph Waldo Emerson and the Oversoul, but he nicely repeated his question about my being related to a literary agent. By the way, I took the photo used in this blog for the template background; its tiled and was a kaleidoscope shot from one of my films on You Tube- it is Lena Nyman on the dust-jacket of the hardcover of Vilgot Sjoman’s diary of his filming I was Curious Yellow and I was Curious Blue. In brief, the older banner that reads All About Swedish film was sent to me from someone that designs for the Potsdam Museum, which I in turn sent to an artist in California, who added tint to it before I added flash animation. Interestingly, the tinting of photographs dates back to 1932 or before; I have since found that one of the black and white photos scanned from the original negatives taken by Clarence Sinclair Bull and sent to me by author Mark A Vieira came from a negative that was actually tinted, or colorized rather, for publication by Photoplay Magazine. After the reader has seen the portraits of Greta Garbo that are mine, previously swallowed by Yahoo and Flickr, I encourage any attempt to view Garbo’s Garbos, the photographs that belonged to the actress herself. Taken by Clarence Sinclair Bull, Ruth Harriet Louise and George Hurrell, they were scheduled for public view by the Greta Garbo Estate for Christmas 2012, the collection including one particular portrait taken by Ruth Harriet Louise during the filming of The Single Standard ostensibly taken with Greta Garbo posed in front of a Paul Gaugin. I also happened to espy a copy of Photoplay Magazine that had belonged to the actress. Admist the webpage of Juliens Auctions 2012 a description of Greta Garbo’s first screen appearance was nestled in between a ”Vintage Greta Garbo Portrait” a Valentina Ottoman Silk overcoat and a Grey Silk Dress, they being among 800 items. It read, ”Garbo’s first American film, The Torrent opened in 1926 and her entrancing performance made an international sensation. Here was a woman unlike any previously seen on a film screen.” During 1927, Motion Picture Magazine was as extratextual discourse in the relationship of viewer to viewed within spectatorship was more than interested inthe on and offscreen eyes of Greta Garbo in the interplay of flanneur, as windowshopper, before she brought the objectification of her image as lover-recluse in its article In the Confidences of Andre Ani, The Man Who Dresses the Stars, ”He finds it difficult to dress Greta Garbo for she has foreign ideas about dress…she likes short skirts when she should wear long ones and she has innumerable dislikes.” On screen, and in the portraits taken by Clarence Sinclair Bull, Greta Garbo would be in attire desinged by Adrian, to where according to Movie Classic, Garbo had specifically helped Adrian design the court gown that she wore in the palace of Queen Christina.
|Two Swedish silent film actresses, Tora Teje and Karin Molander, were found with Swedish Silent Film actor Lars Hanson- Sofia Larssen’s webpage on ”Sweden’s leading matinee idol of the silent era”, was also a Geocities webpage before it closed. We we invited to ”Also take a moment to drool over the many pictures in the gallery.” From a guestbook entry on from a similar geocities page she was evidently then living in Sweden. Of particular interest was the Lars Hanson webpage written by Laurel Howard, also a geocities webpage. She writes that The Saga of Gosta Berling/The Atonement of Gosta Berling was meant to be a four hour film, ”Because of the editing there are a lot gaps in the plot. It really is an epic film and needs length to show the full character and plot development…I think this film needs to be on the list for some major restoration.” She later writes about ”Ketta” in ”the horzontal love scenes” that brought The Flesh and the Devil to renown and created a continuing fame, or unique stardom, for Greta Garbo. Webpages like these were a catalyst for my page on Greta Garbo in that it part of a series of five pages on Svenska Filmhistoria, which began chronicling the history of Swedish Silent Film from the turn of the century and I was honored to include a screening of one of the most profound and powerful films directed by Victor Sjostrom before his coming to the United States. Of particular mention is Louise Lageterstrom of the Swedish Film Institute’s writing on Greta Garbo are more than worth a revisit.|
|swedish silent film 1909-1917|
|In 1965, DurgnatPages later, to his account of her nearly consenting to eloped with John Gilbert and it having happenned that ”finally, she hid herself in a ladies lavatory”, he added. And yet please thoughtfully accept this as an indirect clue from the present author about the enigma of the actress and her decisions as when to film and when to stay out of the public eye; it is from one of the only interviews she ever gave published in Photoplay before the advent of sound film, ”I love to travel. I would like just to have enough money to travel. I have not place to go- except back to Sweden. I want to go every place.” It is mystical that if Greta Garbo did nothing else for us, she traveled though eternity, embracing her time period and then later eluding its glance.|
She and Mona Martenson were to film The Saga of Gosta Berling (1924, ten reels). Louise Lagterstrom of the Swedish Film Institute introduced the film, and Greta Garbo, in her writing with the title En Fortarande eld, Gosta Berling. Photoplay, while advertising that the article would appear in their next installment, viewed Garbo as tempermental. In the article, she talks about The Saga of Gosta Berling and of Stiller having given her ‘the very best part for my very first picture.’ If the reader of 1928 had found where in Photoplay it was continued, ”This Star’s Interesting Narrative was to include Greta Garbo having said, ”I owe everything to Mr. Stiller” The actress related that, for one thing, they both spoke Swedish, as much as she thought that being in the United States and that it was where she could make films. Stiller had imparted to her, ‘You must remember two crucial things when you play the role or for that matter any role. First, you must be aware of the period in which the character is living. Second, you must be aware of your self as an actress. If you play the role and forget about your self nothing will come of it.’”
Author Forsythe Hardy writes about Hanson’s performance in The Saga of Gosta Berling in his volume Scandinavian Film, published in 1952, ”Lars Hanson made a dramatic figure of the clergyman whose rebellious temperment is one of the motivating forces of the story.”
Author Forsyth Hardy lists a number of spectacular scenes from the film before describing ”one of the quieter scenes” where two actresses explore the relationships that can for between two female characters, ”The two women stand face to face, their minds full of bitter memories. No word is spoken, not a guesture made. Then the women, one at either side of the great press begin to turn to it. Moments such as this, when the camera was used to express great depths of feeling, showed Stiller’s gifts as a director.” Greta Garbo when interviewed in Photoplay Magazine described being on the set of her first leading character portrayal-Ruth Biery subtitled her second installment to The Story of Greta Garbo with Miss Garbo makes her film debut and appears like a comet in the Northern Sky.”She paused again to remember, ‘The first days of work I was so scared that I couldn’t work. I was sick in earnest…He (Stiller) told me to practice alone. But I knew he was in some corner watching. I looked all around and could not see him, but I knew hw was there. So I would not practice.” That Stiller had veered from the text of the novel during its adaptation is noted by Hollywood Filmograph in 1930 when it reviewed the reissue of both Stroke at Midnight, directed by Victor Sjostrom, and The Story of Gosta Berling, ”Regardless of the quality of this picture, which is none to high, the usual interest in Garbo will atrract good houses…In this film Garbo is merely a pretty girl who doesn’t know a great deal about acting…The film itself abounds with fault…Next in fault lines lies the complication of story, or stories. The audience is expected to follow a half a dozen varied plots and subplots, thrown together in the most bewildering manner.” The publication felt that both Greta Garbo and Lars Hanson had, by then, ”improved under American supervision” in regard to their acting ability. ”The picture is padded too heavily with tragedy.”
It is not entirely marginal that there are also accounts that Nils Asther had met Greta Garbo in 1924, at the Dramatiska Teatern and that he had then proposed marriage to her, which she apparently declined- the autobiography of Nils Aster, Narrens jag (Fool’s Way/The Way of the Jester) was published in Swedish, posthumously. If, in 1928, Ruth Biery was writing about Nils Asther in Photoplay Magazine in order to obtain information about Greta Garbo, she does in fact show him in a favorable light and was genuinely interested in the actor, ”Nils Asther, like Greta Garbo, was trained in the small studios of Sweden. He was accustomed to accept acting as an art rather than a short cut to wealth, fortune or position.”
|The premiere of The Joyless Street. There was a photograph of Greta Garbo and Mauritz Stiller in Berlin adorning the writing of Louise Lagterstrom of the Swedish Film Institute- she credits Stiller’s discovery of Greta Garbo in its title ”Siller’s Kreation” In a Berlin hotel room, Stiller had said to Greta Garbo, ”That’s better. Put your feet on that stool. You’re tired. A film star is always tired. It impresses people.” Although she seldom gave interviews, Greta Garbo described her going to Berlin in an interview with Ruth Biery published in Photoplay, ”Miss Lundequist, a very big Swedish actress, who played in the picture, went with us. She is a most marvellous person…So much soul and so tired always. Berlin was wonderful to us…We went on stage. They sent us many flowers. They had sent to Stockholm for us and made it a very big time for us…While we were there, that one week for the opening people spoke to Mr. Stiller about our coming to America.” Bosley Crowther, in his biography Hollywood Rajah, chronicles that while in Berlin, Mayer had screened a film directed in Sweden by Stiller after Seastrom had recommended that they meet. ”It was full of snow and reiindeer…Stiller had someone call the next day and say he would like to show Mayer his latest film Gosta Berling’s Saga from a novel by Selma Lagerlof. They met at a screening room.” Stiller, ”a tall, lanterned-jaw man who could not speak English” (Crowther) was asked during the film who Greta Garbo, ”a lovely, slender, spiritual-looking blonde”, was. Apparently Stiller megaphoned in Swedish, ”Look at the picture! Look at the direction!” The next day the three had dinner. Paul Rotha described Greta Garbo in the film The Joyless Street in his volume The Film Till Now, ”But Greta Garbo, by reason of the sympathetic understanding of Pabst, brought a quality of lovliness into her playing as the professor’s elder daughter. Her frail beauty, cold as an ice flower warmed by the sun stood secure in the starving city of Vienna, untouched by the vice and lust that dwelt in the dark little street.” In the invaluable volume written ”during film history”, in 1930 Rotha gives a more accurate view of the place of the film in history by observing that the film was in his view internationally censored, or ”Suppressed”, writing, ”The film was made in thirty four days working at sixteen hours a day, and when completed, it was ten thousand feet in length, about the same as Ben Hur or The Big Parade…In America it was not shown at all, and in England once, at a private performance of the Film Society.” Garbo was to have made a second film for Pabst but declined. Before travelling to Turkey to film Odalisque from Smolna, Greta Garbo returned to Stockholm, appearing on the Swedish stage in the play The Invisible Man, written by Lagerkvist. Stiller had written the script to the film The Odalisque of Smolny and had brought Jaenzon, Ragnar Hylten-Cavallius and Garbo to Turkey only to have the film be left unmade. In the film, Greta Garbo was to portray a harem girl; there were rehearsals held of a exterior where Garbo was to meet her lover. There is a reference to the film made by Greta Garbo in a 1928 interview for Photoplay Magazine,
”We never started on that picture. The company went broke. Mr. Stiller had to go back to Germany to see about the money which was not coming. I was alone in Constantinople. Oh, yes, Einar Hansen,’ she paused, ‘the Swedish boy who was killed here in Hollywood not so long ago- was there too. He was to play with me in the picture. But I did not see him often.” In Denmark, Einar Hanson had appeared in the films The Bilberries (Takt, Ture Og Tosser, Lau Lauritzen, 1924) and Mists of the Past (Fra Piazza del Popolo Anders W. Sandberg, 1925), the latter having starred Karina Bell.
When interviewed in 1924, Stiller had said, ‘You have to leave room for people’s imagination. The film camera registers everything with such merciless clarity. We really have to leave something for the audience to interpret.’ Irregardless of how accurate one clue about the film left behind by Photoplay magazine in 1930 may be its title, the magazine claiming that it would be rereleased in the United States under the title ”When Lights are Red”, ”Garbo’s supporting cast consists of Einar Hansen, the young actor who met with an accidental death in Hollywood several years ago and Werner Krauss. Garbo was exotic in those days, too, but not the calm, poises woman of the world she is today.” Ake Sundberg quotes Greta Garbo as having said, ”I saw Hanson seldom. He was so ashamed of his ragged beard that he hardly dared show himself.” The actor was sporting the beard for the requirements of the script. In That Gustafsson Girl, written for Photoplay Magazine by Sundberg in 1930, Mauritz Stiller is attributed as having been the first European director to shoot in close-up, to shift the camera and to find ”new, striking angles” ”Constantinople had fascinated the Swedish girl, who had never been away from the cold countries.” There would be a letter from Greta Garbo to Vera Schmiterlow sent from Constantinople. Stiller had, ”written much of the story himself” and that there was a rewrite of the script required is seen as having contributed to the films having been left uncompleted. Forsyth Hardy gives an account of the film then bearing the title Konstantinopel. Accompanying the history of the film not having had been being made is the atmosphere, or innuendo, that circulated among journalists, particularly those from other European cities that had travelled to Stockholm, their heaving linked Stiller and Garbo romanticlly, to a point where there was ”the rumor that Garbo married Mauritz Stiller, the Swedish motion picture director, back in 1924 when they were both working on a picture in Constantinople…Garbo, said the whispers, is a widow.” One could interpret that these were encouraged by Greta Garbo having been a recluse. As late as 1933, after the Garbo image had been established, Axel Ingwerson published an article on Greta Garbo in Photoplay entitled, ”Did Garbo Marry Stiller?” with the subtitle, ”Is there any basis in fact for this strange rumor.” Ingwerson continued and while describing Stiller included, ”The original story was that Garbo had married Stiller in Constantinople under a mutual pledge of secrecy. That Garbo, furthermore, would have kept the marriage a secret forever if she hadn’t found it necessary to put forward her claim to Stiller’s estate.” During 1932, Film Daily Magazine had published, ”It now develops that Greta Garbo was married to late director Mauritz Stiller…they were married secretly in Costantinople in 1924, so the story goes, so she is over in Sweden to claim her share of the Stiller Estate.”
Bengt Forslund notes that the filming of an adaptation of Anna Karenina had at first been thought of for actress Lillian Gish, who in Sweden, Greta Garbo had seen in the film The White Sister. In her autobiography, Gish wrote, ‘I often saw the young Garbo on the lot. She was then the protege of the Swedish director Mauritz Stiller. Stiller often left her on my set. He would take her to lunch and then bring her back, and Garbo would sit there watching.’ When refilmed, her Hollywood screen test would be filmed by Stiller and, purportedly spliced into the rushes of The Torrent, seen by director Monta Bell, who then insisted the script of the film be given to Garbo. Garbo’s second screentest had been photographed by Henrik Sartov, who later explained that the earlier test had lacked proper lighting and that a lens he had devised had allowed him to articulate depth while filming her. Cameraman William Daniels had photographed the earlier test. Lillian Gish relates a conversation between her and Sartov about Garbo where Gish asked him if he could photograph a screentest of Garbo, ”Garbo’s temperment reflected the rain and gloom of the long dark Scandinavian winters. At first Garbo was reluctant to accept the role in the film, although it was a large role that had been considered for Norma Shearer, Stiller having advised, ‘It can lead to a better parts later.’ to which she replied, ‘How can I take direction from someone I don’t know.’ Monta Bell had directed Norma Shearer in the film After Midnight (1921). The subtitle to one section of The Story of Greta Garbo As told by her to Ruth Biery, published in Photo-play during 1929, reads ”Tempermental or misunderstood”. In it Greta Garbo relates the events that led up to her having left the studio for less than a week, ”Then it was for months here before I was to work with Mr. Stiller. When it couldn’t be arranged, they put me in The Torrent with Mr. Monta Bell directing…It was very hard work but i did not mind that. I was at the studio every morning at seven o’clock and worked until six every evening.” She goes further while explaining that there was a language barrier that would later contribute to Mauritz Stiller also being taken off her next picture, ”Mr. Stiller is an artist. he does not understand about the American factories. He has always made his own pictures in Europe where he is the master. In our country it is always the small studio.” The production stills of Greta Garbo during the filming of The Torrent were photographed by Ruth Harriet Louise; Robert Dance and Bruce Robertson, in their volume Ruth Harriet Louise and Hollywood Glamour Photography, note that Greta Garbo was in Ruth Harriet Louise’s studio within months of having filmed, but also note that before photographing Greta Garbo, Louise had created her ”first published Hollywood image”, that of Vilma Banky from the film Dark Angel in the September 1925 issue of Photoplay. Ruth Harriet Louise also published an early portrait of Greta Garbo in Motion Picture Classic magazine. During 1927 Photoplay added to the dynamic of extra-textual discourse and the spectator’s relation to fantasy by making photographer Ruth Harriet Louise into either a real person or a celebrity, and or both, ”Ruth Harriet Louise just couldn’t keep away from the camera even at her own wedding…Ruth dashed behind the cameras to make certain that the lighting effects were just as she would have them…Now we wonder if Mr. Jacobson, a scenario writer at Universal followed the lead of his only-woman-photographer mate and wrote the newspaper accounts of the wedding.” It was on the set of The Torrent that author Sven-Hugo Borg was introduced to Stiller, who in turn then informed Garbo that he was her assigned translator while under Monta Bell’s direction. In The Private Life of Greta Garbo by her most intimate friend, Borg relates that bell had turned to him and had said of her, ”What a voice! If we could only use it. Of the film he notes, ”Of course she was constantly with Stiller, spending every possible moment with him; but thought that when the camera’s eye was flashed upon her, the picture would decide her fate began, he would not be there terrified her.” Borg continued as the interpreter of Greta Garbo until 1929. Photoplay Magazine looked at the film during 1926, ”Monte Bell stands well in the foreground of those directors who can take a simple story and so fill it with true touches that the characters emerge real human beings and the resulting film becomes a small masterpiece….Greta Garbo, the new Swedish importation is very lovely.” National Board of Review magazine during 1926 typified the film with, ”The story preserves a European atmosphere in which parents still have the least say about their children’s marriages.” Eugene V Brewster began the watching of Greta Garbo on the part of Motion Picture Classic magazine with his own view, ”At Metro-Goldwyn Studion they showed me a few reels of Greta Garbo’s unfinished picture. This striking, young Swedish actress will doubtless appeal to many, but somehow i couldn’t see the great coming star in her that the company expects.”
It was very soon after that Greta Garbo began a love letter with her movie going audiences that would be nearly contained to her appearances in front of the camera only- Photoplay author Myrtle West that year published an article on Greta Garbo that year entitled That Stockholm Venus, and although it can almost be reduced to paragraphs confirming the need of an interpreter on the part of Greta Garbo when she had first reached Hollywood, and while it connects her with Anna Q. Nilsson and Greta Nissen in her being unfamiliar to Hollywood, it begins with, ”Greta was very worried. A frown corrugated her brow.” and concludes, ”A face that you would remember long after the body had crumbled away.”. It attempts to describe her first impression on Hollywood, ”Greta has no desire to join the vacous circle of teas, dinners and dances into which this favored newcomer is invited. Besides, she has little time for men…or love. This by her own admission.” The picture of Greta Garbo in a chair seated next to a lion, Garbo photographed outdoors on what at first looks like a bench and the lion posing with his front feet elevated on a log, as it was published in Motion Picture Magazine during 1926, was printed without her name; the photo-caption reads, ”$10.00 for the best title to this picture.” It was followed pages later with ”Why Girls leave Sweden, ”Presenting to you Miss Greta Garbo- a lady who is said to have all the qualifications of a star.” Journalist Rilla Page Palmborg followed that with the article, The Mysterious Stranger, which began with ”She is a mystery to those of her own profession!” The photograph accompanying the article was taken by Ruth Harriet Louise. ” ‘Ever since I can remember I must be an actress,’ she explained in suprisingly good English, when I asked her to telll us about herself.” Louise Lagterstrom of the Swedish Film Institute adorned her writing on the arrival of Greta Garbo in Hollywood, Mot Hollywood, with a photo taken in 1924 by Arnold Grethes, almost reiterating that Garbo was photographed extensively, often posing as a photo-model for publicity stills, before her living in self-imposed exile.
While waiting for the next film to be made by Greta Garbo, during 1926 Photoplay magazine printed, ”Yet an automobile almost kept Greta from Metro. Mayer had seen Miss Garbo’s work in a foreign made film, ‘The Atonement of Gosta Berling’. This picture is incidentlly directed by Mauritz Stiller, who is directing the second Garbo opus and it is considered an artistic gem, but a positive flop as far as American audiences are concerned. For that reason it probably will never be released here.” The article continued that Greta Garbo knew that movie stars were provided with limousines whereas Mayer would include one in her contract, insisting that they were bought by the actors and actresses themselves.
There is a report that M.G.M purchased the talking picture rights to both The Temptress and The Torrent in 1932. Bengt Forslund writes, ‘Her first two films, The Torrent and The Temptress, both in 1926, were insignificant, but showed that she had appeal- the audience liked her.’ The screenplays to the first two films in which Greta Garbo had appeared, The Torrent and The Temptress (nine reels) both had been adaptations of the novels of Vincente Blasco Ibanez, their having been titled Among the Orange Trees and The Earth Belongs to Everyone, respectively. The novels written by Vincente Blasco Ibanez also include The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse filmed after Blood and Sand, in 1921, Enemies of Women (Crosland), starring Alma Rubens and Marie Nostrum, filmed in 1926 . When interviewed by Motion Picture Classic magazine, Vincente Belasco Ibanez was quoted as having said, ”The future of the camera is limitless. Now it is not going ahead very fast. There is no standard in the cinema. Who do the artists not get together and set up standards?” Photoplay reviewed the film, ”While this Vincente Belasco Ibanez story is crammed full of melodramatic action- much of it preposterous-Greta Garbo makes the proceedings not only believable, but compelling…Such a role strains at the probabilities, but Miss Garbo makes Elena highly effective. She is beautiful, she flashes and scintillates with singular appeal…The Temptress is all Greta Garbo. Nothing else matters.” Richard Corliss, biographer perhaps film historian, chronicled, ”The studio seemed to favor novelists like Hermann Sudermann and Vincente Blasco-Ibanez. Both writers enjoyed stroking the passion of their characters (and their readers), and then throwing a bucket of natural or divine retribution on the sinners. The water was not holy but cold, and was used not to absolve but to punish.” Richard Corliss gives an account of Stiller’s replacement, ”There are stories of Stiller shouting ‘Stop!’ when he wanted his cameramen to start shooting and ‘Go!’ when he wanted them to stop.” Bosley Crowther’s account of it in his biography of Mayer depicts Stiller as possibly unfamiliar with the studios in the United States, ”Stiller was allowed to start this one, but proved too finicky and slow, one of those ‘difficult’ directors that were now being got out of the studio.” The advertisements in magazines that were part of Metro Goldwyn Mayer publicity for that time period did in fact, like the earlier ”Eminent Authors Series”, present to readers a growing collection of foreign directors imported by the studio. If this were Stiller’s only contribution to, or influence upon classical narrative and the temporal-spatial relationships of camera to subject in film, it would be notable, excepting that Stiller had previously filmed in Sweden and built the traditions of film making there as one of its pioneers under Charles Magnusson. The magazine also published a photograph of Greta Garbo ”vamping” before the film’s release, capitoned, ”Judging from the oval photograph above, The Temptress is well named. Although Greta Garbo has only been on the American screen for a short time, she enjoys quite a vogue.” It then reviewed the film, ”It must be admitted that The Temptress is a bore…Greta Garbo as the unhappy Temptress has a role which requires precisely nothing.”
Charles Affron particularly looks to the entrances that Greta Garbo makes during the opening scenes of her silent film and notes that silent film director Fred Niblo, after taking the helm upon Stiller’s leaving the filming of The Temptress, studies Garbo’s beauty, her ethereality, by adding a second screen entrance of his own where Garbo, clasping flowers, is exiting a carriage- he then illustrates its use in Niblo’s later film The Mysterious Lady (Den Mystika kvinna, 1928, nine reels) where Garbo, in the middle of watching an opera is seen by Conrad Nagel as he is making his entrance and then by the camera in a profile close shot. In the sequence, the camera is authorial in accordance with the action of the scene; Garbo’s look is momentarily uninterrupted as Nagel, almost an interloper, is introduced into the scene by his entering the frame and by the camera nearing her as she is near motionlessly surveying the proscenium, the theater in the film a public sphere of address that envelopes its characters to where Garbo, and her act of watching becomes the subject of the cinematic address and the object of both Nagel’s and the audience’s interest. Affron writes that it may have been Stiller’s keeping Garbo on the screen and in front of the camera that had been among the reasons for his being replaced on the set of The Temptress.
Author Mark A. Vieira was asked by Turner Classic Movies to provide audio narrative commentary to the film The Temptress for its The Garbo Silents collection, his on occaision quoting the actress during the film as well as his quoting from her correspondence. The Temptress begins with a blue-tinted exterior shot, Fred Niblo then cutting what seems to be an opera house during which there are lights from the cieling that sway back and forth across a costume dance. During the next scene Garbo in an evening gown that is folded like a robe enters a drawing room where there is a visitor that has been invited to dinner. During the dinner, there is an pullback shot over a table that is elaborately included in the scene, it having been designed almost as though the scene from a pre-code film in the plunging necklines of its tight clinging evening gowns in contrast most of the films scenes that seem bookended between the beginning and end of the film. After a series of exterior shots filmed by assistant director H. Bruce Humberstone, Lionel Barrymore is introduced in the film, Greta Garbo shortly thereafter reintroduced as the camera cuts away from her before it is finished panning up, it cutting back after an interpolated shot to finish panning from her waist upward, the camera slowly reflecting upon the unexpectedness of her being reunited with the other characters. Director Fred Niblo had apparently also taken over behind the camera for Lynn Shores during the shooting of The Devil Dancer (1927, eight reels), actress Gilda Gray having had been being on the set.
In a scene where Garbo is shown in an extreme close up sitting with Lionel Barrymore, author Mark A. Vieira chooses to discuss that whereas previously close ups had often been used in silent film as being concerned with a different plane of action as other shots filmed from other camera distances, Niblo seems to include closeups into the characterization through a use of lighting and diffusion while filming. Irregardless of this, later in the film there is extreme close up of Garbo that is abruptly cut almost on a reverse angle right before her and her lover are about to kiss. The character movement of the two nearing each other is held, if only briefly, Garbo near stunning as the camera only briefly contains her within the frame. There in the film is a scene with a rainstorm and flood that, and although it was more than quite concievably added to the plotline for its excitement, is almost a haunting acknowledgement of the camerawork of either Mauritz Stiller or Victor Sjostrom in Sweden and the role of nature in Swedish silent film, in this instance an acknowledgement punctuated by Greta Garbo, who is seen right before the rain during a night exterior in the mountains, alone with her lover in a series of close shots, her then being only briefly seen in profile during the thunder and lightning and then again in one of the most beautiful evening gowns of the film, her shoulders bare as she is reading a letter.
The Exceptional Photoplays department of National Board of Review magazine credited William Daniels and Gaetano Gaudio as having been the photographers of the film The Temptress, ”The Temptress brings Greta Garbo to the attention of American audiences as an actress of note and unusual beauty…She is not half a minute on the screen before you know her for an artist, pliable and lovely. This big starring vehicle gives her the ample opportunity to prove her versatility…The first Paris sequence is the equal in tonal quality and feeling of anything that has been done in films. It is true with strong character drawing. Miss Garbo makes Elena a breathing person.” Motion Picture Magazine featured a still on the set of the film captioned, Fred Niblo inisits on realism…and this scene of Tony Moreno and Greta Garbo in The Temptress promises to provide a thrill when it reaches the scene. Note the angle of the camera.” Later Motion Picture Magazine pitted ”Garbo vs. Negri” by publishing, ”Greta Garbo seems to be the young foreign actress who is going to accomplish in America what was originally expected of Pola Negri. Many still consider Pola to be the greatest actress upon the screen but…Garbo seems to have more varied talents…while Pola is apparently not the type of actress who can maintain wide popularity on this side of the Atlantic over a considerable length of time.”
Mauritz Stiller, when invited to a private screening of Hotel Imperial for Max Reinhardt had said, ‘Thank you. But if not for Pola, I could not have made it.’ Photoplay Magazine reviewed the film favorably, ”Here is a new Pola Negri in a film story at once absorbing and splendidly directed…Actually, ”Hotel Imperial” is another variation of the heroine at the mercy of the invading army and beloved by the dashing spy. This has been adroitly retold here, untill it assumes qualities of interest and supspense…Miss Negri at last has a role that is ideal…”Hotel Imperial” places Stiller at the formost of our imported directors.” In her autobiography, Memoirs of a Star, Pola Negri describes her first meeting with Greta Garbo.’To tell the truth, I was also very curious about the girl…She smiled wistfully, as we shook hands…Through dinner she was resolutely silent…’, her then giving an account of their conversation and of her having given Garbo advice. The Street of Sin (1928, seven reels) starring Fay Wray and Olga Barclanova was begun by Stiller and finished by the director Joseph von Sternberg. It would be Stiller’s last attempt to film in the United States before returning to Sweden in late 1927 and presently there are no copies of the film. Author Paul Rotha reviewed ”that most extraordinary of movies” shortly after the release of the film, ”No expense was spared on its making. The script was well-balanceed;the continuity was good; the setting natural. yet for some obscure reason it was one of the worst films ever done. It defied analysis.” Kenneth MacGowan writing about the film notes, ‘The film was more distinguished for its players-Jannings and Olga Barclanova- than for its script by Joseph Sternberg.
In 1927 alone, Einar Hanson appeared in the films The Lady in Ermine (seven reels, James Flood), The Masked Woman (six reels) with Anna Q. Nilsson, and Fashions for Women (seven reels, Arzner) with Esther Ralston. Gladys Unger, who later worked on the scenario to The Divine Woman, had written the screenplay to the film Fashions for Women. Photoplay Magazine reported, ”Here is a tragedy- and a mystery. Einar Hansen was found fatally injured, pinned beneath his car on the ocean road. Earlier in the evening, he had given a dinner party for Greta Garbo, Mauritz Stiller and Dr. and Mrs. Gustav Borkman…Hansen was unmarried. He is survived by his parents, who live in Stockholm.”
Glimpses of the Garbo of 1924, a year when in the United States Viola Dana and Jetta Goudal were starring together in the film Open All Night (six reels), can be seen in the letters between her and Swedish actress Mimi Pollock authenticated by author Tin Andersen Axell, letters on which his newest book is based. Leaving us again with something mysterious, the letters written by Pollack to Greta Garbo have been unseen by the public and are thought to be currently included in the collection of Scott Riesfield.
Among the events of 1924 was a visit by silent film stars Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks to Stockholm, Sweden. The two had that year appeared on the September cover of Motion Picture Magazine in the United States. There are accounts that while in Sweden, Pickford and Fairbanks sailed on the small vessel The Loris with Greta Garbo and Mauritz Stiller, their departing from Lilla Skuggan, and before arriving in Saltsjobaden, their passing where Charles Magnusson lived at Skarpo.
King Vidor in 1924 paired John Gilbert and Aileen Pringle in two films, Wife of the Centaur, with Kate Lester, and His Hour. Conrad Nagel would that year team with Aileeen Pringle for the film Three Weeks. Nagel would appear on the screen with Eleanor Boardman for the 1924 film Sinners in Silk (Henley) and then the following year for The Only Thing, directed by Jack Conway. Silent Film actress Norma Shearer, in 1924, was starring in Broadway After Dark (Monta Bell, seven reels) with Anna Q. Nilsson, The Snob (Monta Bell, seven reels) with John Gilbert, Empty Hands (Victor Fleming, seven reels), Married Flirts (Robert Vignola, seven reels) with Conrad Nagel and The Wolfman (Edward Mortimer, six reels) with John Gilbert.
Iris Barry is timely writing in 1924, imparting to the readers of Lets Go to The Movies, ”Victor Seastrom, who had made Swedish pictures before Germany had begun its work (and too good to be popular) went last and they had they idiocy to put him to turning one of Hall Caine’s intensely stupid stories into moving pictures. He did the best he could and played about a bit with the Yankee studio devices.”
1922 was a year during which Gustaf Molander’s second film, Amatorfilmen, the first film in which actress Elsa Ebbengen-Thorblad was to appear, brought actress Mimi Pollack to Swedish movie audiences. Molander had made the film The King of Boda (Tyrranny of Hate, Bodakungen) in 1920. It was the first film to be photographed by Swedish cinematographer Adrian Bjurman and starred Egil Eide and Wanda Rothgardt. Karin Molander had in 1920 starred in two films by Mauritz Stiller, in When We Are Married (Erotikon) with Lars Hanson, Tora Teje, and Glucken Cederberg, and in Fiskebyn. She also that year appeared in the film Bomben, directed by Rune Carlsten. And yet Karin Molander would only later be mentioned to audiences in the United States, Photoplay Magazine noting in 1926 that she was no longer in Sweden and no longer married to Gustaf Molander, ”With Lars Hanson came his wife, Karin Nolander, leading woman in the Royal State Theater of Stockholm and billed as ‘Sweden’s most beautiful woman’ She hasn’t appeared on the screen yet, but it shouldn’t be long now with so many good Scandinavian directors over here.” There is an account that Greta Garbo had seen Mauritz Stiller’s film Erotikon in a theater in Sweden. Appearing on the screen in the 1920 Gustaf Molander film Bodakungen was Franz Envall, whom Greta Garbo mentioned in a 1928 Photoplay magazine interview with Ruth Biery, ”Then I met an actor…it was Franz Envall. He is dead now, but he has a daughter in the stage in Sweden. he asked if they would not let me try to get into the Dramatic School of the Royal Theater in Stockholm.”
Paul Rotha, writing at the time of the silent era having come to and and sound film making its beginning in his volume The Film till now, a survey of the cinema, helped formulate the consensus that the value of Swedish Silent Film lay in its depiction of man’s relation to the enviornment, shown through exterior shots during the period of the silent film of Victor Sjostrom untill the interior shooting of Gustaf Molander during the early sound era, that there was a ”lyricism” that brought ”depth and width” that would make each director the others contemporary. ”With Seastrom it manifests itself in his shots of landscape, his feeling for the presence of the elements, his love of the wind and sky, and flowers…Seastrom too this reality of nature with him to the mechanized studios of hollywood and it blossomed even in that hot-house atmosphere.” King Vidor in 1924 paired John Gilbert and Aileen Pringle in two films, Wife of the Centaur with Kate Lester, and His Hour. Norwegian film director Tancred Ibsen, while briefly in Hollywood, worked on the set design to the Vidor film His Hour. Monta Bell that year directed John Gilbert in The Snob (seven reels).
There is an account of Rowland V. Lee having met Greta Garbo when she had first been introduced to the United States in 1925, ”Jack Gilbert was all she wanted to talk about.” Notably, Clarence Brown in 1925 directed Rudolph Valentino in the film The Eagle, which is of interest not only for its introduction of the pull-back shot, a tracking shot moving away from its subject similar to the present day zoom-out, but it was also one of the first films for which Adrain had designed the costumes, the other that year having had been being Her Sister From Paris.
Basil Rathbone, who co-starred with Greta Garbo, under the direction of Clarence Brown, in the sound version of Anna Karenina, wrote of his aquaintance with her in his autobiography, In and Out of Character. ”I first met Miss Garbo in 1928 when Ouida and I were invited to lunch with Jack Gilbert one Sunday.” Rathbone and his wife had been present at the premiere of the film Flesh and the Devil. Of his starring in film with her, he wrote, ”And so upon the morning previously arranged I called upon Miss Garbo. The house, a small one, was as silent as the grave. There was no indication it might be occupied.” Rathbone had also appeared in silent films- Trouping with Ellen (T. Hayes Hunter, seven reels) in 1924, The Masked Bride (Christy Cabanne, six reels), starring Mae Murray, in 1925 and The Great Deception (Howard Higgin, six reels) in 1926. Jane Ardmore’s biography, The Self-Enchanted- Mae Murray: Image of an Era, only briefly mentions Basil Rathbone or Greta Garbo but is an account of off-screen Hollywood, ”Every fourth Sunday Mae threw open her house for lavish entertainment…Jack Gilbert brought Greta Garbo. They were in love and radiant, but Greta was worried about the studio, she was shy, there seemed such commotion, her engeries were sapped. ‘You should have a dressing room on the set as I do, Darling.’ Mae told her.” Mae Murray would be attending a birthday party later that year for Rudolph Valentino given by Pola Negri. Rathbone and his wife had been present at the premiere of Flesh and the Devil. On learning that Greta Garbo had already had the film Mata Hari in production, Pola Negri deciding between scripts that were in her studio’s story department chose A Woman Commands as her first sound film, in which she starred with Basil Rathbone. Of Rathbone she wrote in her autobiography, ‘As an actor, I suspected Rathbone might be a little stiff and unromantic for the role, but he made a test that was suprisingly good.’ Directed by Paul L.Stein, the films also stars Reginald Owen and Roland Young.
Roman Novarro, who had starred with Greta Garbo in Mata Hariunder the direction of George Fitzmaurice, in 1924 appeared in two films directed by Fred Niblo, Thy Name is Woman and The Red Lily. In 1925 the actor appeared in the films The Midshipman (Christy Cabanne, eight reels) and The Lovers Oath (six reels). Novarro is quoted as having said, ‘It wasn’t enough for her to satisfy the director. Often -despite his OK- she asked for a scene to be retaken because she didn’t think she had done her best.’ During 1925 actress Vilma Banky was filming for George Fitzmaurice rather than Victor Sjostrom, who featured her in his first sound film, A Lady To Love, that being before her Hungarian accent purportedly had contributed to an unacceptance on the part of movie going audiences. The Great Goldwyn, an early biography on producer Sam Goldwyn written by Alva Johnston, gives an account of her having been brought to the United States States, ”He discovered Miss Banky when he saw her picture in a photograph shop in Budapest. This was a feit, because when the photograph was sent to Hollywood, the Goldwyn executives could see no possibilites in her. She arrived in Hollywood herself a few days after her photograph. Miss Banky was bewildered on her arrival in Hollywood. ‘I thought I was being tricked,’ she told an interpreter, ‘I didn’t believe the man was Goldwyn untill he gave me two thousand dollars.’” During 1925, Victor Sjostrom, brought Lewis Stone and Alice Terry to the screen in the film Confessions of a Queen. With him was a cinematographer that became widely used on the back lots of the silent films of the decade to turn flicker into fantasy, Percy Hilburn, his having worked with several directors, notably Reginald Barker, George Melford, Fred Niblo and Monta Bell. John W. Brunius in 1925 directed the film Charles XII (Karl XII), photographed by Hugo Edlund and starring Gösta Ekman, Pauline Brunius and Mona Martenson. Its screenplay was written by Hjalmar Bergman and Ivar Johansson. Many of the scenes of Brunius’ film were shot on the actual historical locations and battlesites, it having had been being one of the most expensive films to have been made in Sweden up untill that time. Gosta Ekman had earlier been seen as leading man in the United States, as a ”romantic type” In Pantomine magazine it was surveyed that, ”he plays the impudent, but loveable adventurer to life and his slender blonde figure lends itself most admirably to graceful interpretations of this kind.” Photoplay magazine saw Ekman in a similar way, describing him in 1923 as ”the Swedish shiek” (the Swedish Valentino) and predicted his soon aquiring famem in the United States, as it did that year with Sigrid Holmqvist. Photoplay reported, ”Arriving with him from Stockholm was Edith Erastoff, the wife of Victor Seastrom, the Swedish director who is now working for Goldwyn. Miss Erastoff played opposite Mr. Ekman at the Stockholm Theater….’A beautiful boy,’ says director Seastrom, ‘Too beautiful- but he is a great actor and never hesitates to conceal his good looks for a character part which demands make-up.’” The magazine that year speculated that ”in all probability” Ekman woulod appear on screen in a version of ”Three Weeks”, concievably opposite actress Theda Bara. In Sweden, in 1925 Ragnar Ring directed the film Tre Kroner (1925), following the next year with the film Butikskultur. Ett kopmanshus i skargarden starring Anna Wallin and Anna Carlsten was written and directed by Hjalmer Peters, its photographer Hellwig Rimmen.
In his biography of Greta Garbo, Raymond Durgnat quotes ”the austerest of all film directors”, Carl Dreyer, although the quote seems superfluous or decorative to the essay, as having said, ”Nothing in the world can be compared to the human face. It is a land no one can never tire of exploring.” The context was that Garbo, being a film star, was an object of art.
It was in 1926 that Silent film actress Lillian Gish, while filming La Boheme (King Vidor, nine reels) with John Gilbert, had met Victor Sjöström. Lillian Gish was quoted by an early biographer as having said that it was on the set of La Boheme that she began working with Frances Marion on the continuity behind The Scarlet Letter. Photoplay Magazine in 1926 added a photocaption to a still from Victor Sjostrom’s film, for they had trouble getting Lillian to put torrid temperature into her La Boheme scenes. Here is Lillian sending hot looks to Lars Hanson.
|Not only is the film in which Victor Sjostrom directed Greta Garbo lost, Sjostrom, while in the United States was to direct the first feature released by Metro Goldwyn Mayer, He Who Gets Slapped, (seven reels 1924), starring Lon Chaney, Jack Gilbert and Norma Shearer. It was Norma Shearer who was to star opposite Lon Chaney in the other M.G.M directed by Victor Sjostrom under the name Seastrom of which there are no existant copies, that film being Tower of Lies (1924, seven reels). During 1925, Lon Chaney, in an article entitled My Own Story and published by Movie Magazine, while pointing to the themes of ”self-sacrifice and renunciation” in his films wrote, ”The picture I have just completed, Tower of Lies, is the story of a father’s enduring love and sacrifice, even to death, for his wayward daughter. I do not know that it is my favorite of all roles that I have portrayed, but certainly it is one of them and I consider Victor Seastrom, who directed it, the greatest director in the motion picture profession.” Also in 1925, The Reel Journal, a sister publication to the magazine New England Film News, reviewed the films of Lon Chaney with the article ”Lon Chaney Turns to Less Grotesque Roles”. The article initially began by noting that, in regard to depiction of thematic character, ”Lon Chaney, who has attracted stardom by playing roles of a weird and grotesque character, is turning to portrayals depending on more deeply human qualities for their interest.”, the professionalism as a make-up artist on the part of Lon Chaney is not without having been noticed, ”In his first Metro-Goldwyn Mayer picture, Victor Seastrom’s production of Leonid Andreyev’s He Who Gets Slapped…Chaney donned two make-ups, one as a European scientist, and the other as a clown. It was said by critics of the latter that this portrayal was the first circus clown interpretation to express the humanity which lies behind the painted mask of a mountebank…In The Tower of Lies, his make-up demonstrates a transition from middle age to old age.” Both films The Tower of Lies and The Unholy Three were unreleased at the time of the review. An earlier film starring John Gilbert and Norma Shearer, The Wolfman, directed by Edmund Mortimer in 1924, is lost. One film thought to be non-existent before preservation attempts is a film which introduced actor Nils Asther in his first appearance onscreen, a Lars Hanson film directed by Mauritz Stiller in 1916, The Wings (Vingarne)- it was remade, or re-adapted rather, as a silent by Carl Theodore Dreyer.|
| Greta Garbo photographer William Daniels in 1926 was cinematographer to the films Altars of Desire (seven reels), under the direction of Christy Cabanne and starring actresses Mae Murray and Maude George and Bardley the Magnificient under the direction of King Vidor. Greta Garbo and John Gilbert were to attend the premiere of the film Bardley the Magnificient together. Motion Picture Magazine printed, ”Hollywood is still talking. The newspaper wires still buzz every time either one telephones the other. Yet in spite of all this, Greta Garbo and John Gilbert dare appear in public together at openings and other Hollywood functions.” During this, Silent film scriptwriter Dorothy Farnum ran magazine advertisements announcing her having had written the screenplay to the film Bardley the Magnificent, the portrait of John Gilbert from the film printed in Motion Picture Magazine had been taken Ruth Harriet Louise. 1926 was also the year that Greta Garbo, John Gilbert and Lars Hanson would film an adaption of the novel The Undying Past, bringing to the screen its plotline untill its emotional concluding scene at the Isle of Friendship during Flesh and the Devil (Atra, Clarence Brown). When reviewed by Photoplay Magazine it was seen that it was ”a picture filmed when the romance of Jack Gilbert and Greta Garbo (see Jack’s story in this issue) was at its height. It saw the performance of Greta Garbo as ”flashing” whereas that of John Gilbert was delivered by one who ”does overshade some of his scenes”. Of her off-screen romance with John Gilbert, director Clarence Brown, who had introduced the two to each other, had said, ”After I finished a scene with them I felt like an intruder. I’d walk away to let them finish what they were doing.’ Brown has also been quoted as having said, ”Those two were alone in a world of their own.” Writing about Greta Garbo, Richrad Corliss quotes film director Clarence Brown as also having related that he would ”direct her very quietly” and never ”gave her director above a whisper.” Motion Picture Magazine that year transcribed an autograph that was on a photograph of John Gilbert at the office of Clarence Brown at the M.G.M. studio. As published it read, ”For Clarence, With my sincere appreciation of his genius and his help and his ability to play cupid so magnificiently.” The magazine went slightly further, it having surmised, ”The above autograph is proof that something must have been going on, what with cupid, John, Greta, the flesh and the devil all mixed up on one set.” In an interview during which she outlines her having met John Gilbert, Greta Garbo, as quoted by Ruth Biery in The Story of Greta Garbo, said, ”When I finished The Temptress, they gave me the script for The Flesh and the Devil to read. I did not like the story. I did not want to be a silly temptress. I cannot see any sense in getting dressed up and doing nothing by tempting men in pictures.” This is oddly echoed by National Board of Review magazine, in which the conclusion was drawn that ”The leading contributor to the success of Flesh and the Devil is Greta Garbo.” It provided a synopsis of the film that also lent the background to its addressing the desire of Greta Garbo to leave her ealier ”ladies of vampish repute” characters and to be seen as a more serious dramatic, or romantic dramatic, actress. It primarily sees her as being more believable character, ”Miss Garbo in her later day impersonation shows a frail physique and a fragile ethereal air. She is infinitely more civilized and all the more subtle for not being so deliberate.” Paul Rotha reveiwed ”a film of more than passing cleverness” directed by Clarence Brown, ”Flesh and the Devil had some pretensions to be called a good film. The theme was sheer, undiluted sex, and Brown used a series of closeups to get this across with considerable effect. Notable also was his use of angles, different indeed from either customary German or American method, and the happinesss with which he settled the characters in their enviornment.” National Board of Review magazine encapsulated the film with ”The directorial skill of Clarence Brown, the cinematic slickness of the photography, and the careful attention to detail do the rest. Greta care has been taken in the scenification of the who picture to create an atmosphere in which duels and a society whose moral codes have been tinged by a military regime will seem natural.” Clarence Sinclair Bull contributed a portrait of Lars Hanson to Motion Picture Magazine, the photo-caption reading, ”Here’s a new hero for you. Whether its acting ability, sincerity, or sex appeal you’re looking for, Lars has got it. He was a match for the screen’s foremost actress in The Scarlet Letter, and we’ve no doubt he’ll make even John Gilbert look to his laurels in Flesh and the Devil.” The portrait of Greta Garbo that year in Motion Picture Magazine had been photographed by Ruth Harriet Louise, its caption reading ”We are feverishly awaiting her performance opposite John Gilbert in Flesh and the Devil”- by then it was becoming increasingly unnecessary to introduce her as a star that was rising. And yet the when the magazine reviewed the film with the article An Idyll or a Tragedy- Which? When Clarence Brown filmed the Love Scenes of Greta Garbo and John Gilbert for Flesh and the Devil, he was working with raw material, the author began with, ”None of us knows very much about her.” When the film was reviewed by Motion Picture Magazine the film was praised with ”Here is one of the best pictures relected upon the old screen in many a moon, the perfection of which is only marred by the ending, which appears tacked on, as an afterthought…Greta is a beautiful nymphomaniac..You never feel the chaos she causes exaggerated. She’s attractive enough to wreak havoc in a man’s world.” Film Daily listed the adaptation credit as Hans Kraly and the scenario and continuity credit as Benj F. Glazer, ”Story Strong in Sex Appeal but Splendidly Handled.” It looked at both co-stars, ”John Gilbert renews his hold on the title of the screen’s great lover…Greta Garbo about the most alluring creature imaginable…An overindulgence in painted backdrops and a fairly unconvincing, sugar-coated ending are the only criticism to be offered.”
The story of John Gilbert and Greta Garbo was often retold after the advent of the sound film. There is a photograph that appears to be from the filming of Flesh and the Devil; the photocaption is from the Photoplay article ”Unknown Hollywood I Know”, written by Katherine Albert in 1932, and reads, ”An old and never-published snapshot of Garbo and Gilbert in the flush of romance. Garbo liked to picnic alone. Jack liked to go to parties. So they picnicked alone.” The article gives an account of John Gilbert futilely waiting for Greta Gabo to call him, ”Jack worshipped Garbo, there’s no doubt about that..Well, she gave him a cool, disspassioned regard.” John Gilbert and Greta Garbo were in fact seen together during 1927, particularly by Motion Picture Magazine, that at that time innocently ran a photograph of the two greeting Elsie Janis when she visited the Metro Goldwyn Studios, an event which had loomed larger the actress and actress having been espied together. It later mentioned that it was discussing ”the reported engagement of Greta Garbo and John Gilbert” with actress Anna Q. Nilsson, with whom it had also been discussing the sorrow of Pola Negri in regard to the death of Valentino. When the magazine later included an article on John Gilbert, it quoted the actor as having said, ”I have loved Greta Garbo ever since we met at the studio.”, and ”‘I am willing, but is she?’ She refuses to make a statement. Now if we can make Garbo give in, everything will be hotsy totsy, and we can include them in a picture layout of newly married couples.”
In Sweden, during 1926 author Selma Lagerlof watched filmstrips of the adaptation to the screen of her novel by Victor Sjostrom as Seastrom in the United States, the scenario having been drawn up by Agnes Christine Johnston. All seven reels of the film are presently considered to be lost. Norma Shearer, who had starred under Victor Sjostrom’s direction in Tower of Lies with William Haines had said that Sjostrom ”was more concerned with the moods he was creating than the shadings he would have injected into my performance.” When reviewed by Photoplay Magazine, the film was seen as ”a worthwhile picture spoiled by a too conscious effort to achieve art. Consequently, a human story suffers from artificiality.” When further reviewed by Photoplay, it was added that, ”If the director had been as concerned with telling the story as he was thinking of symbolic scenes, this would have been a great picture. As it is, Victor Seastrom was so busy being artistic that he forgot to be human. The emotions are of those of the theater, not of life.” Actor William Haines later was to tell Photoplay Magazine, ”But then it is strange, too, that I have worked here for several years on the same lot with Greta Garbo and have never met her.” On Sjostrom, Author Iris Barry observed, ”He has a genius for the rural. In Tower of Lies he has redeemed himself on exactly these lines. Also witness the love scene in He Who Gets Slapped, the only really attractive part in that rather tedious picture.” To flashback to 1921 and the Danish actress Asta Nielsen, the last volume of poetry written by Vilhelm Krag, Viserg of Vers had appeared in Norway in 1919, and with it are two novels, Stenansigot, from 1918, and Verdensbarn, from 1920. Vilhem Krag then adapted his work Jomfru Trofest for the screen in a script co-written by the director Rasmus Briestein. Interestingly enough, Asta Neilsen waited untill having returned to Germany to appear in the film Hedda Gabler under the direction of Franz Eckstein, but not before her having made the film Felix with Rasmus Briestein. The film was based on a novel written by Gustav Aagaard and photographed by Gunnar Nilsen-Vig, who would later go on to photograph for the directors John Brunius and Tancred Ibsen.
Photographer Oliver Marsh that year would be behind the camera lens Norma Talmadge in the film The Dove (nine reels), director Roland West adapting the play written by Willard Mack for the screen. W. S. Van Dyke that year brought Wanda Hawley to the screen in the film The Eyes of Totem, also starring Ann Cornwall. That Movie Classic Magazine included the title New Styles for Sex Appeal on its November,1933 cover featuring Greta Garbo is a fitting contrast to when the magazine had featured Garbo the silent actress on its cover during 1927 before it had changed its name, a look, from Motion Picture Classic. Actresses chosen by Screenland magazine in 1927 to grace its cover included Marie Provost, lya De Putti,Anita Parkhurst, Gilda Gray and Jetta Goudal: Each month Cal York wrote a page entitled Girl on the Cover; in regard to any personal favorite covers to Photoplay Magazine of the present author, so far there are two, both from 1926, Marion Davies and Alice Joyce. Without the films, all that is left are magazine advertisements where the screen star cordially invites our consumership, not only our consumership as spectators for the advertised product, but as spectators for the fantasies of ‘a now by gone era’, the look of the female directed to a time only preserved as being seldom seen on the silent silver screen, once captured by the moving camera and now guessed at through the pages of magazines.
John Gilbert that year made the films The Show (Tod Browning, seven reels), Twelve Miles Out (Jack Conway, eight reels). John Gilbert also appeared that year with Jeanne Eagles in the film Man, Woman and Sin (seven reels), which Photoplay reviewed as being of interest because the actresses and actor were paired together but concluded, ”Miss Garbo needn’t worry over Miss Eagles.”, it thinking that the film and the part played by the actress was tailored in order to substitute for Garbo. ”Director-and author-Monta Bell knows his city room. After that the film disintegrates into cheap melodrama.” The following year John Gilbert appeared in Four Walls, made with him by director William Nigh, (eight reels), and actress Vera Gordon.
”Came the talkies- came Gilbert’s unfortunate and subsequently not-so-good pictures…I believe unquestionably that Jack Gilbert would have made a great motion picture star after the talkies. I believe with a little study, a little direction, a good deal of careful help and selection of stories and directors, he might have survived them as well as his beloved Greta Garbo” It was during the summer of 1935 that Adela Rogers St. Johns predicted ”his bitter destruction”, her writing the article What Defeated Jack Gilbert for Photoplay magazine. It might be noticed that she is in no way maudlin, but rather morbid, if not eerie. ”It would be easier to bear if it had been Jack’s fault. But it wasn’t. Never.” And yet it was six months before the actor’s death; as she surveys his marriages and pronounces his love for Greta Garbo as having been all-consuming, she approaches the ”beautiful letters” of literature; she is hauntingly like those actresses that had buried Rudolph Valentino, ”Amid the glitter of Hollywood there have been many tragedies, but none more poignant or more heartbreaking than Gilbert’s.”
Actress Emily Fitzroy, who appeared with John Gilbert and Greta Garbo in the 1927 film Love, had that year appeared in the films Married Alive (Emmett Flynn, five reels), with Margaret Livingston and Gertrude Claire, Orchids and Ermine (Alfred Santell, seven reels) with Colleen Moore, Hedda Hopper and Alma Bennet, One Increasing Purpose (Harry Beaumont, eight reels), with Lila Lee, Jane Novak and May Allison, and Once and Forever (Phil Stone, six reels), with Patsy Ruth Miller and Adele Watson.
During 1929 Motion Picture Magazine had introduced Jearaldine DeVorak, a fashion model who was given a small salary to become ”Greta Garbo’s official double” when she had been noticed as an extra, working as a dancer. ”‘I adored Garbo on the screen,’ she explained.’Once i spent the whole day sitting through five show of The Temptress…They made tests of me and dressed me in gorgeous gowns…She is so lovely and i know she taught me a great deal about acting.” In 1927 Greta Garbo had written, ‘I could not believe that what I saw when I was first taken to the Metro-Goldwyn Mayer lot was a studio. I found that it covered acres and acres of ground and boasted some twenty stages, each one of which was larger than our entrie studio in Sweden.’ The quote is from an article printed in Theatre Magazine entitled ‘Why I am a Recluse.’ and it either smooths out the extatextual discourse surrounding her on-screen sphinx-like image or was only partly written by Garbo for the studio publicity department; she had earlier renounced her ‘vamp roles’ in order to film melodrama- in any event Greta Garbo herself relished reading fan magazines no matter how taciturn she had been. In the article, she explains the difficulty involved in acting in the United States, ‘My country, Sweden, is so small. It is also so quiet…During my first picture, Ibanez’s Torrent, it was exactly as if I had to learn the making of motion pictures all over again. I was just beginning to learn the language… Now of course, things are easier for me. The second picture, The Temptress, I found less hard. The Flesh and the Devil fairly sprung along, and now Love is going easier still. The studio does not seem as large as it did.’
During June of 1927, Motion Picture Magazine reported, ”Greta Garbo’s week of sulking and refusing to appear at the Metro studios have availed her nothing. The immigration authorities decided that Greta would have to go to work or be deported….She will begin work on Anna Karenina, the story that cause her final tempermental gesture and her desertion of the studios. It is to be directed by Dimitri Buchowetski and Richard Cortez was singed, after his recent break with Paramount, to play the male lead.” Cortez was married to Alma Rubens at that time. Photoplay magazine reviewed Love, ”Anna Karenina? Not so’s you could notice it. But John Gilbert and Greta Garbo melt the Russian snow with their love scenes. Will it be popular? Don’t be silly!!” Sven-Hugo Borg writes about his having observed John Gilbert and Greta Garbo, ”They were cast as Lovers in Love (Anna Karenina) and out of that picture came not only another screen triumph for Garbo, but the flowering of what I believe to have been the only real love of her life.” He continues, ”I believe, with all my heart, that John Gilbert is the only man who ever touched the deep wells of passionate emotion which lie buried deep in the breast of Garbo.” He alludes to Garbo not wanting to have married John Gilbert and of her keeping the details of the romance from Stiller. The magazine The Film Spectator in 1928 noted, ”There is one clever feature in Love, the close-up debauch in which Metro presents Jack Gilbert and Greta Garbo. In many places the closing title to one sequence serves as an introductory title to the sequence that succeeds it. There is a fade out after the title, ‘Then I will see you at the grand duke’s ball tonight’; and a fade in on the ball without any further explanatory title.” National Board of Review magazine saw Love as being an incomplete adaptation of the novel Anna Karenina, that it had abridged the description of Russian society in order to indulge the development of character for a return at the box-office, ”this picture deals exclusively with the central love intrigue and resolves itself into a series of love scenes, scenes of renunciation and scenes of self sacrifice. It is a fine solo performance for Greta Garbo, seconded by Mr. John Gilbert.” During 1927 Photoplay included a photocaption beneath a portrait of Garbo that read, ”Latest War Bulletin from the Firing Line: Greta starts peacefully to work on Anna Karenina Someone changes the title to Love. Greta goes home pleading illness. She says she’s not tempermental.” The next photocaption read, ”Greta Garbo does not tink she vill go home. Greta positively enjoys her work in Love now that John Gilbert is definitely cas as her leading man. Here is the first photograph of Greta as Anna Karenina and John as Vronsky.”
Photoplay added, ”Greta Garbo’s pet hobby is Swedish fan mail.” Two magazines of which copies may have belonged to her during 1928 were issues that featured Greta Garbo as a covergirl for Motion Picture Classic and Greta Garbo as a covergirl for Screenland in 1927- in regard to magazine art and the actress as model, the magazine cover as modern canvas, Greta Garbo was on the cover of six issues of the magazine Screenland: February 1927, May 1928, November 1929, June 1931, June 1934, and November 1935. Interestingly, while readers were awaiting her picture on the cover of the June 1931 issue, which included the caption ”A New Slant on Garbo”, her name appeared on the caption of each preceding issue, irregardless of who the actress covergirl for that month was. The cover to February’s issue had read ”Garbo Menace”, April’s had read ”The Real Garbo”, and July’s had read ”Etching of Garbo”- the most beautifully erotic cover of Marlene Dietrich during March of 1931 had had, below the portrait of the German actress, the words ”Dietrich’s Shadow on Garbo’s Path.” Actress Greta Garbo, while still fairly new to Hollywood, appeared on the covers of Photoplay Magazine for May 1928, August 1929, August 1930, January 1932 and January 1933. During the four short years between 1934 and 1938, Greta Garbo appeared on seven covers of the magazine Film Pictorial.
It is now beyond asking if James Quirk’s Photoplay is literature, it was, for the most part art, and if about the cinematic art, it was painterly. During 1928, it happenned to read, ”The plans for Brown to direct Greta Garbo in ”Java” have been shelved and he will now direct John Gilbert and Miss Garbo in ”The Sun of St. Moritz.” Motion Picture News, a periodical that had featured Greta Garbo on the cover of two issues that year, added tersely, ”Greta Garbo is preparing for an original story which is said may be filmed in the Dutch East Indies”. Garbo, incidently had declined a role in the silent film Women Love Diamonds (Edmund Goulding, seven reels,1927), it not having met with her approval; the film was to star Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Lionel Barrymore and Owen Moore. ”And there I met him for the first time, except to nod to him, John Gilbert. He has such vitality, spirit, eagerness. Every morning at nine o clock he would slip to work opposite me…When I finished The Flesh and the Devil, they wanted me to do Women Love Diamonds. I could not do that story….Finally, they call me and say they have a story. I read it and went out and asked what part I was to play and they said the little part. Aileen Pringle and Lew Cody were to play the big parts…and was ready to play the little part in the picture when Miss Pringle said sh would not do it.”
|For Photoplay, Agnes Smith in 1927 wrote on Greta Garbo, ”He worked with her in a picture called Flesh and the Devil. He proclaimed his intention of marrying her. As for Greta, she seemed to enjoy the rush.|
|And then, when everyone was all set for another Hollywood wedding, Greta walked out….John Gilbert sticks to his story…She is a wonderful woman. A delightful woman. And the most fascinating woman in pictures. ‘She is,’ says Mr. Gilbert, ”a mountain of a girl. She is a statue. There is something eternal about her. Not only did she baffle me, but she baffled everyone at the studio.’”
The screenplays to The Kiss (Kyssen, Feyder, seven reels) and Wild Orchids were both written by Hans Kraly during a year in which he had also written Eternal Love (Lubitsch, nine reels), Betrayal (Lewis Milestone, eight reels), The Garden of Eden (Lewis Milestone), starring Corrinne Griffith and Lowell Sherman, and The Last of Mrs. Cheyney. Kraly also in the United States had earlier penned the screenplays to Rosita (Lubitsch, 1923, nine reels), Black Oxen (Frank Lloyd, 1924, eight reels), Three Women (Lubitsch, 1924, eight reels), Forbidden Paradise (1924) and Her Night of Romance (Sidney Franklin, 1924, eight reels). In Germany, Kraly had written the scripts to the films of Danish director Urban Gad, including the 1913 film The Film Star (Die Filmprimaddonna, starring Asta Nielsen. Opposite Greta Garbo from the first scene of The Kiss onward was actor Conrad Nagel.
Cal York in of Photoplay in 1928 quoted Greta Garbo as then saying, ”Eef I was tempermental, I would not work untill I got what I wanted.” the journalist haing added that the ”rumors about Garbo’s temperment” at the time included that ”she likes to be alone, that she is different, ‘the one great exception’.” If nothing else, the quote may show how inaccessible to the press, or how inaccessible it seemed she should be depicted. The context was when ”Production had begun on the Greta Garbo picture War in the Dark when the fact was disclosed that the star was to wear another fur cape or coat. She stoutly rebelled saying she had worn a coat in every picture she had made and would not wear one in this.” On other pages that year the magazine added a provocative photo of Greta Garbo, seductive, bareshouldered in a low cut evening dress with the caption, ”Who wants movies with incidental sounds? Who would be disturbed by the smack of the kiss Conrad Nagel is planting on Greta Garbo’s kneck in War in The Dark?
While editor of Film Comment magazine, Richard Corliss signed the dedication of his biography of Greta Garbo, ”To My Own Mysterious Lady, who taught me all I know”. Apparently he had met his wife at a Greta Garbo retrospective during 1968 He writes on Garbo in the film, ”It’s not that Gabo needed roles of majestic tragedy- she certainly got enough of those!- but she showed in films as slight as The Mysterious Lady (1928) and as a substantial as Ninotchka (1939), that she could have fund without sacrificing the sense of fated seriousness that made her roles, and sometimes even her films, something special.” Motion Picture magazine may have lacked tact in its review of The Mysterious Lady, ”Greta Garbo’s latest pciture is devoted to disproving those two disagreeable stements of Jim Tully’s- that Greta garbo is anemic and flat-chested. She darts about displaying unwonted vim and vigor and wears gowns that might very appropriately have adorned Barbara La Marr. Greta as a beautiful lady spy is too alluring to miss…Conrad Nagel is occupying John Gilbert’s usual place besides the couch.”
Norma Shearer in 1928 appeared on theater marquees in The Actress (Sidney Franklin, seven reels), a film photographed by William Daniels, The Latest from Paris (eight reels) and A Lady of Chance. Silent film actress Vilma Banky was seen on the screen in theaters across the United States during 1928 with Ronald Colman in Two Lovers (nine reels), directed by Fred Niblo. That same year it was reported, ”Vilma Banky’s first picture following Two Lovers will be entitled The Awakening (nine reels) instead of The Innocent. It is an original Frances Marion. Victor Fleming is to direct.”
Photoplay magazine in a 1932 article writen by Ruth Biery, alluded to Lon Chaney and Greta Garbo having known each other, ”He spent many hours with her while she was making her first pictures. And he gave her his opinion on this weird unparalleled buisness…”If you let them know much about you, they will lose interest,’ he admonished her again and again.” In a Photoplay article entitled, ”They Think Alike, both ”Sphinxes” Greta Garbo were drawn into paralell by Cal York. In the article Garbo and Chaney are both quoted as they were to trade complimentary remarks. ”Of Chaney, Garbo has said, ‘His work intrigues me. He is an artist, a creator of illusions. I think he is a magnificent character actor.” Chaney is quoted as having returned with a compliment for Greta Garbo, ”Garbo is the Bernhardt of the screen” and there is the quotation, ”Chaney recently declared, ‘She is the greatest feminine personality I have ever seen in the theater and film.’” Greta Garbo, as had Lillian Gish, had asked that Sjostrom direct. Of Greta Garbo he had said, ”She thinks above her eyes. Certain great actors posses what seems to be an uncanny ability to register thought- Lon Chaney was one- Garbo is another. They seem to literally absorb impressions…Garbo is more sensitive to emotions than film is to light, (and) you see it through her eyes.” The Divine Woman (En Gudomlig Kvinna, eight reels), one of the three films directed by Victor Sjostrom in 1928, was photographed by Oliver T. Marsh, who had photographed the silent film Camille using panachromatic film. The earlier films of Greta Garbo had been filmed on orthochromatic film. Austin Lescarboura, author of Behind the Motion-Picture Screen seems timely in divulging, ”Scenery is no longer painted in the prevailing tones of blue and brown, but in full real life values. Costumes are quite as colorful. As a result, orthochromatic registry is correct.” Victor Sjostrom’s film The Divine Woman was based on the play starlight by Gladys Unger, who had also written an early revision of the screenplay. The final rewrite of the screenplay was given to Dorothy Farnum, the titles written by John Colton. The film took six weeks to shoot. Silent film director Victor Sjostrom had remarked after filming, ”I and Metro’s own scriptwriter, Frances Marion, wrote the story eight times before it was accepted. By that time, nothing remained of the original material.” While there are several accounts that would keep the researcher on tenterhooks written by biographers in regard to a synopsis of the film, and each of those only adding to the mysterious eroticism belonging to the silent films of Greta Garbo, this film in particular displaying her in a more girlish promiscuity with a playfullness rather than an the more distant Garbo, the script itself now lingers as a ghost or phantom as Garbo filrts with the movement of onswcreen shadows; to this Bengt Forslund adds that there were further revisions after the completed script was approved and the ending was made more tragic. In regard to the revision of the film being followed by the press in the United States, Motion Picture News during 1927 was one magazine that had happened to announce the film as being in production, ”The role of ‘Aurelic’, the French actress in The Divine Woman is Greta Garbo’s next starring part for Metro Goldwyn Mayer. It claimed that Gladys Under was ”a member of the Metro Goldwun Mayer scenario staff. John Bainbridge wrote that the film had been ”well recieved”, that Sjostrom spoke ”glowingly” of Garbo’s work in the film and also of Stiller’s having had an interest in directing it. Bengt Forslund hints that the script itself had been Stiller’s idea as a way for him to return from directing at Paramount. Forslund, in his book Victor Sjostrom: His Life and Work writes, ”One recogzines that the story could not be helped, but clearly Sjostrom was trying to do something different with Garbo, to make her a softer, more easy-going woman than she appeared in her earlier films.” This is premonition is echoed by Paul Rotha, writing in 1930 in The Film till now, ”But Seastrom had ceased to develop. He remains stationary in his outlook, thinking in terms of his early Swedish imagery. He has recently made little use of the progress of the cinema itself. The Divine Woman, although it had Greta Garbo of The Atonement of Gosta Berling, had none of the lyricism, the poetic imagery of the earlier film. It is true, however, he rendered the Scandinavian less of a star and more of a woman than in any other of her American films.” Biographer and actor Fritiof Billquist quotes Sjostrom as having said, ”She never once came to the set without having prepared herself thoroughly down to the last detail, and if one gave her directions, she accepted them, gladly, even though she was a big star even then.”
Forsythe Hardy only briefly mentions The Divine Woman in Scandinavian Film, after earlier having announced that the films directed by Mauritz Stiller in the United States also were to lay outside the province of his writing, but he appears to in general be in concordence with Bengt Forslund that the films made in the United States by Stiller and or Sjostrom were not up to par with those they may have or would have made in Sweden, although he favorably notes, ”His direction of Greta Garbo in The Divine Woman had the understanding we might have expected.” The fragment of Greta Garbo in The Divine Woman showcases the interior editing of Victor Sjostrom. Garbo and Lars Hanson are filmed from behind a dining table in a stationary medium full shot, a brief insert shot included in the sequence. The insert shot of the clock acquires the qualities of a similie and trope as it is repeated, much like the isolated metaphors in Wild Strawberries(Bergman) and Cries and Whispers (Bergman). They are filmed in a series of alternating closeups while seated at the table. On Garbo’s later delivering the line of dialouge, ”I’d give up the whole world for you, ”Sjostrom dissolves to another insert shot of a clock, using the oject, and the motion of an inanimate object within the image, to punctuate the events driven by the characters, spatial-temporality illustrated through lietmotif. For film detectives that look to piece together the scirpt details from magazine articles, the clock also appears in the 1928 review of the film in the bi-weekly The Film Spectator and it is put into relation with Lars Hanson’s dialog as he relates to Garbo that his time with her could be limited, but it then chides the actor and actress for their not seeing the seriousness of their existential engagement and involvement with their circumstances. In a second later review it pointed out, ”Greta Garbo establishes the fact that in The Divine Woman that it is all right for young Parisian washerwomen to have plucked eyebrows.” For Greta Garbo, in the role of Marianne, it is not a choice between Lucien (Lars Hanson) and Legrande (Lowell Sherman); her mother’s lover, brings her to acclaim on the stage when Lucien has to return to his conscription. Despondent, she leaves the theater, but then Lucien finds her again. He takes her to South America where they can begin again. (One rewrite of the continuity script has the character’s names as being ‘Marah’, who is introduced by a dollyshot, her apparently coming to Paris from the province of Auverone. When reviewed in the United States, it was deemed that, ”Mr. Seastrom reveals in sharp contrasts…When the actress tries to end her life because of her love for Lucien, Mr. Seastrom introduces the idea of having a group of sympathizers, some with a boquet of flowers, filling a doorway while Marianne is unconscious on her bed.” Photoplay reviewed the storyline,”Marianne, as they have called the Divine Sarah is brought to Paris as a suprise present to a worldly wise mother who does not wish to openly acknowledge an eighteen year old daughter. She is gawky, untutored, ugly. Thrown upon her own resources she falls in love with a soldier. Chance introduces her to the stage. The conflict between her and her love for the stage and the man is the theme of the story. Watching Marianne make love; watching her suffer in poverty; glory in applause;rage at the unkindness of Fate-makes it well worth your while to see this picture.” It continues, ”How an ugly duckling becomes a great actress.” It is interesting that when Photoplay reviewed the reissue of The Saga of Gosta Berling a year later, it claimed the film was a European film that proved that, with Greta Garbo, ”Hollywood had turned an ugly duckling into a swan”. As there are no copies of the film, I have added the entire review of The Divine Woman as it appeared in National Board of Review magazine, ”Paris is the background for this romantic drama. Scorned by her pleasure loving mother, a young girl is brought up in the home of a Briton peasant. later she enters the realm of the theater winning fame and recognition, all of which she gives up for the love of a poor peasant. The story holds the interest and the acting of the two Swedish stars, now well known in America, is excellant.” The portraits of Greta Garbo published in Photoplay during the first run of The Divine Woman were taken by Ruth Harriet Louise. In an atricle entitled Love Stories, Photoplay during 1928 used a still photo from The Divine Woman that the present author was unfamiliar with as having had been published elsewhere,but added a photocaption to a still of Lars Hanson on the floor with Garbo putting her cheek next to his while nearly laying on top of him during an embrace that read, ”By nature we are polygamous or polyandrous. Such love scenes between Greta Garbo and Lars Hanson are a pretty safe way of satisfying that desire to philander.” There is another movie still later that only add to whether the photocaption is incorrectly, or hurriedly, used, ”Because we are curious about love, because we are always seeking the perfect love affair, the screen romances of Vilma Banky and Ronald Colman have a constant fascination for us. Motion Picture Classic magazine ran a two page layout entitled ”The Sport of Kissing Men- Greta Garbo’s Technique Shows Variety and Speed” which showed several poses of Greta Garbo within embrace, including one with a photo credit to Milton Brown. It’s caption went so far as to say, ”One reason perhaps why Lars Hanson returned to Sweden is that he considered going through a scene like this one from The Divine Woman enough for any one man’s lifetime.”Richard Corliss succinctly places the film into its historical place, ”Through an accident of film history, her next film, a fictionalized life of Sarah Bernhardt directed by Victor Seastrom and called The Divine Woman, no longer exists. So we shall never know exactly how divine Garbo was in the story of an actress whose lover (Lars Hanson) goes to jail for her sake. It is a secret she shared only with the audiences of her time.”- to add to the enigma of Garbo, by all accounts Corliss seems mistaken as to the plot of the film, if not both the film and the play, and that the character portrayed by Hanson actually goes into military service rather than departing as described by Corliss. In his Film Essays and Criticism, a valuable introduction to film, Rudolf Arnheim gives Greta Garbo only a two page ”portrait”, but it is from 1928 and may be more than a cursory glance, his writing, ”On cat’s feet, her coat pulled tightly about her and her hands folded in her lap, Greta Garbo passes censorship.” Arnheim sees Greta Garbo as erotic, as an erotic object. Elevated later, to Bela Belazs, author of Theory of the Film in which she would attain, or become, Heroes, Beauty, Stars and the Case of Greta Garbo, she would ”bear the the stamp of sorrow; and loneliness.” Bela Belazs takes a thoughtful pause of appreciation before adding his own melancholy, ”Greta Garbo’s beauty is a beauty which is in opposition to the world of today.” The Divine Bernhardt that was immortalized as a model for artist Alphonse Mucha exists, Adrienne Lecouvrer (An Actresse’s Romance (Louis Mercanton, 1913, two reels) does not. Other than as seen advertised in magazines of the time period like Motion Picture World, the film regrettably is lost. And yet oddly, or as uncanny, Belaz features a photograph of Asta Nielsen in the film Die Ewege Natt with a caption reading, ”The script-writers destroyed a growing art when they gave speech to the great mutes.”
”A director, Clarence Brown, was highly enthusiastic over the possiblities of ”Wind” on the screen, but a favorable decision might have been less quickly reached had all the conditions been seen…They had waited a long time for Brown- untill they could wait no longer.” Biographer Albert Bigelow Paine relates that Clarence Brown had been on location and was unavailable to film Lillian Gish in The Wind, which brought her under the direction of Victor Sjostrom again, paired with actor Lars Hanson. Photoplay reviewed The Enemy in 1929, ”This picture offers the most stirring anti-war propaganda wver filmed, yet maintains a heart interest which will thrill you every moment…Lillian Gish ceases to be the ethereal goddess. She is an everyday woman who sacrifices her man, her child and finally her honor, for the necessity rather than glory of battle.” Written by Solve Cederstrand and photographed by Hugo Edlund, Konstgjorda Svensson (1929) ,with Brita Appelgren, Ruth Weijden, Rolf Husberg and Weyeler Hildebrand, was directed by Gustaf Edgren. Also appearing in the film were Karin Gillberg and Sven Gustasfsson, the brother of Greta Garbo. Photoplay in 1929 featured a photo of the couple, its caption reading, ”It’s in the old Garbo blood, for Greta’s brother is an actor too!! His name is Sven and he is shown rocking the boat in a scene from ”The Robot”, a new Swedish film. The young lady is Miss Karin Gillberg, another argument for better ship service to Scandinavia.” In 1929 Edvin Adolphson directed his first film, it having been the first film made in Sweden to include sound, The Dream Waltz (Sag det i toner), co-directed by Julius Jaenzon and starring Jenny Hasselquist and Eric Malmberg. Along with the films he made with Greta Garbo, before his returning to Sweden, in the United States, Lars Hanson made the films Captain Salvation (eight reels), photographed by William Daniels and Buttons (George Hill, seven reels). Photoplay reviewed Captain Salvation as ”A well knit drama of how the frist gospel ship came into being. Pauline Starke is excellent as the waterfront derelict.” On his return to Sweden, Photoplay Magazine recorded, ”Contentment meant more to Lars than money. He writes that he is happier that he has ever been in the Royal Dramatic Theater in Stockholm. ” Photplay Magazine published, ”Wild Orchids will do much for Nils Asther. Here is the role that will push the young Swedish actor up closer to stardom.” It described the film with, ”a story that proves tropical heat melts all conventions. The scene is java-the details are superb-and the picture is a riot for audiences.” Film Daily began following the film with the entry Asther Being Groomed, which read, ”It looks as if Metro Goldwyn Mayer are grooming Nils Asther to fill the vacancy that might be created by the departure of John Gilbert from that payroll of that organization. Rumor have it that Gilbert will go with United Artists…Ather has been assigned the lead opposite Greta Garbo in the her next picture Heat.” A later entry follwed title Garbo Title Again Changed, ”Wild Orchids and not The Kiss of the East will be the final title for Greta Garbo’s new picture.” With Asther already cast, the magazine had listed Heat as the ”working title” of the film. Film Daily titled their review of the Wild Orchids with ”Sexy Garbo Film With Strong Feminine Appeal. Finely Done. Should Get Dough”. It described the films actors,”Greta Garbo alurring and capable; Lewis Stone gives a fine performance and Nils Asther is a handsome shiek. The three carry practically all the action.” It then went to the scenario,”Exploitation of Garbo’s sex appeal.” It credits John Colton as author with Marion Ainslee and Ruth Cummings as having written the titles. Clarence Sinclair Bull photographed the portrait of Nils Asther that appeared in Motion Picture Magazine. After their review of Wild Orchids the included a page entitled Home is Where the Art Is. It read, ”Is is Nils Asther’s conviction inspiration for his work is not so much to be got from constant mingling with other people, as from a communion with himself.” Before co-starring with Garbo, in 1928 alone, Nils Asther had appeared in the films Laugh Clown Laugh (Herbert Brenon, eight reels) with Lon Chaney and Loretta Young, The Cardboard Lover (eight reels), Dream of Love (Fred Niblo, six reels) photographed by William Daniels and Oliver Marsh and starring Warner Oland, Adrienne Lecouvrer, and The Blue Danube (Paul Sloane, seven reels) with Seena Owen. That year also saw The Cossacks (George Hill, ten reels) with John Gilbert. The ”portrait” of John Gilbert and Renee Adoree published in Photoplay, which, taken in costume, on the set, seems more like a publicity still than a posed portrait, was taken by Ruth Harriet Louise, its caption reading, ”Love among the rural Russians…It is a story of the peasant classes.” Oddly, the New Movie Magazine in 1930 added a photo of Asther captioned without any further explication of text, ”Nils Asther, reported to be John Gilbert’s successor as Greta Garbo’s boyfriend.” Photoplay magazine in 1930 went so far as to claim that the reason that Nils Asther was not returning to Sweden was his marriage to Vivian Duncan, but it then added that ”talkies” and the advent of sound film was the responsible for his at first having been thought to be retired from film and that that might soon be reversed by his on-screen appearance. Asther had met Vivian Duncan on the set of his first film made in Hollywood, Topsy and Eva. Clarence Brown and photographer Oliver T. Marsh would rejoin Nils Asther and Lewis Stone, adding Robert Montgomery, to adapt the novel Letty Lynton for the screen in 1932. And yet during 1933 there seemed like a publicity duel between two of Nils Asther’s films and their respective full page magazine advertisements, By Candlelight seeming only slightly more glossy than Madame Spy, in which he starred with Fay Wray. ”The girls go into long trousers. For the sea scenes of The Single Standard, Greta Garbo wore flannel trousers with a plain, tuck in sweater and sea-going canvas shoes.” Picture Play magazine in 1929 ran the caption ”Simplicity, even frugality, marks Greta Garbo’s mode of living” and placed it beneath a photo credited to Genthe. It added another photo and caption, ”Only self-expression draws Greta Garbo, for she is indifferent to fame and the luxury that come with stardom.” In regard to her being versatile, the following it added yet another brief photocaption, ”Greta Garbo portrays the torments of love, and little else.” Hollywood Filmograph looked at the story line of the film, ”Adele Rogers St. John takes a sort of languid jolt at social conventions in The Single Standard, M.G.M. using Greta Garbo and Nils Asther to propound her doctrine. The theme appears to have been built rather than created, and should hardly carry far in the eternal fitness of things…Garbo fans will surely like her in this new role.” The Picture Play magazine reviewed The Single Standard with, ”One of the most brilliantly searching moments of acting ever seen in my fifteen years’ observation of the screen occurs in The Single Standard. It is furnished by Greta Garbo. She washes her hands, then washes her hair…Only she could make the story matter, or give it even ephemeral conviction.” Of Nils Asther’s performance in the film, Photoplay published in 1929, ”Nils Asther measures up to the requirements of a Garbo lover. Greta gives a splendid interpretation of the woman of today at war with herself.” The periodical had that year whispered that Anna Christie would be Greta Garbo’s first sound film, but that she would be making The Kiss first and that Lon Chaney was then still waiting for a dialog director; it claimed that sound film had stopped the career of Nils Asther and it meanwhile praised the voice of Ronald Colman in the film Bulldog Drummond. As early as 1928 Ruth Beiry had speculated in Photoplay Magazine with the article ”Will Nils Asther Retire?” After having dinner with the actor she wrote, ”There is no doubt he is restless, unhappy yearning for the outlet for his work as he learned it in Europe.” Asther told her, ”Over here i feel I am wating my time..I want to have something to say about my stories. I want to work hand in hand with my director. I want to think about my part and then do it.” He continues, ”Life is too short There is so much to be accomplished…I would like to play with Von Strohiem. He would have so much to teach me.”
|Photoplay Magazine announced, ”This is Greta Garbo’s last picture before she departed for Sweden” It claimed that the role created by writer John Colton had played by Garbo in Wild Orchids had been previously considered for Lillian Gish.” Motion Picture Magazine listed the film as being Synchronized (Sound) while recommending the film, ”Lewis Stone gives his always distinguished performance, And Nils is an actor, and- but see Wild Orchids. To end 1928, Film Daily reported, Garbo Re-signed, claiming that had signed a new contract with M.G.M., one that would allow her to go on a vacation before going into effect and speculated with a fair amount of certainty that her first picture on her return would be an adaptation of a novel written by Elinor Glyn.
Richard Corliss commented on the difference of the directing styles of the directors of Greta Garbo, ”In its majestic twilight, the silent cinema was generating the most luscious of tonal subtleties, often in spite of its directors. Jacques Feyder’s The Kiss, M.G.M.’s last silent film uses a panchromatic stock to convey a wide range of grey pastles, and his camera moves with the speed and grace of a champion figure skater. But so did Wild Orchids and Sidney Franklin’s directorial personality was fugitive, if not nonexistent.” He adds. ”So Feyder”s direction- strait-face but with its fingers crossed behind its back, may strike us as condescending…Feyder tracks his camera past countless people, paintings and poodles- including a droll opening shot which follows a tour guide as he races through a museum, slowing down only slightly to indicate the occasional masterpiece. he then deftly shows how to suggest a different mood with the same cinematic syntax by tracking tragically backward as Garbo runs away from her admirer and out of the museum.” Paul Rotha, writing in 1930 in The Film till Now, a survey of the cinema tried to characterize the then contemporary film of the United States, There is found, then at the close of the pre-dialogue period of the American film, a mixed selection of production made according to formula…The ingredients of a successful film, conceived from a picture-sense point of view may be said to be: a strong, powerful theme (preferably sexual); a high-polished, quick moving technique, employing all the most recent discoveries (usually German); a story interest that will carry the sex, at the same time allowing for spectacle and at least two high spots; and a cast of international players. Of such a type were Flesh and the Devil, The Last Command, The Patriot, Wild Orchids and The Kiss.” If nothing else, it is evident that the screen presence of Greta Garbo lay in the background as he wrote- a trick from the studios to sell the solitary theater goer one ticket when they were alone on a rainy after noon, interpellating the subject of romantic intrigue?Louise Lagertstrom of the Swedish Film Insitute titled her webpage on the career of Greta Garbo for the period 1928-1929 Superstjarna. While in Sweden, during 1928, Garbo had come across the actress Vera Schmiterlow, whom she had known well and whom she had hoped would venture to Hollywood and also while in Sweden had renewed her acquaintance with the actress Marte Hallden. Lars Saxon, who twice published Greta Garbo in his magazine Lektyr, and who corresponded with her while she had been in the United States at MGM, met her as she was travelling. It was also while in Sweden that she had first met Gösta Ekman, who greeted her by saying , ‘But you’re so ordinary.’ Later she visited Ekman’s dressing room to thank him for the use of his seat at a theatrical play that Stiller had directed when it had first began its run. Ekman was purportedly in hope of sharing the Swedish stage with her in a theater run of Grand Hotel. During 1934 a writer for New Movie Magazine noted, ”My melancholy was dispersed by recollection of what Greta Garbo said to Eva Von Bern, the young German girl imported as a triumphant discovery to be shipped back in tears of humiliation, ‘My dear’, said Miss Garbo, pressing the girl’s hand in farewell,’You do not know how fortunate you are to be going home and leaving all this.’”
Mordant Hall, writing in 1929, recounts his having a purported assignation with the ”Hollywood Hermit, ”Soon the door of Miss Garbo’s apartment was flung open and the sinuous figure of the alluring actress appreared as if from a ray of sunlight. In a low-toned voice that suited her bearing, she greeted the caller, whose eyes fell from her face to a bouquet of flowers on a table and then to the carpet. ‘Won’t you sit down?’ she asked.” he continues to describe her pink silk sweater and black velvet skirt, claiming that of all her films, A Woman of Affairs was Greta Garbo’s favorite. She evidently recounted preparing for a role on the Stockholm stage and having memorized the lines and having studied the part but had later decided against appearing in the theater. ”She repeated, ‘Delighted to have met you.”
Greta Garbo Complementing this, Lewis Stone has been quoted as having said, ‘She was Garbo, and that said it all. No one has ever created such an impression.’, whereas Edmund Goulding is quoted as having said, ‘I don’t believe that Garbo’s astounding success depends on any mystery. She has movie sex appeal, if I may say so, but her success depends more on her unique ability to work and her will to achieve absolute concentration before the camera.’ He added, ‘For all her enormous success, she is just the same as when we worked together in Love; only perhaps a little more shy and solitary.’ Garbo had been slated to film Ordeal with Lon Chaney under the direction of Marcel de Sano, it having been left unmade- Motion Picture Magazine reported on his depature from M.G.m in 1927, ”Marcel was to have directed The Ordeal with Lon Chaney, but when he found Greta Garbo was in the cast and was expected to fall in love with Lon, he thought that was too terribly incongruous, and refused to direct it.” What is meant to be fascinating is that after being deemed, or deigned a recluse, when it was announced that she was in a position to consider retirement, interest in Greta Garbo went to a depth that reached Greta Gustasfson and biography about the actress appeared; magazines were still interested in publishing stills Garbo had posed for in Sweden during the the film Peter and the Tramp and, after his death, were still probing into her affection for John Gilbert and Garbo’s intention of marrying him in Mexico. In the 1937 article, After Twelve Years Greta Garbo Wants to Go Home to Sweden, readers in the United States discovered, ”in 1936 she bought an estate outside Stockholm. Having finished Conquest she will go there to spend a few months, or many.” Greta Garbo appears on the cover of the magazine quite possibly only by dint of the photo being in costume from the set of the film.
|Mordant Hall claimed to conduct an interview with Greta Garbo, during which it was attributed as her having said, ”If they want me to talk, I’ll talk. I’d love acting in a talking picture when they are better, but the ones I’ve seen are awful. It’s no fun to look at a shadow and somewhere out of the theatre a voice is coming.” Writing in 1929, the author added, ”There is no longer any Swedish coterie in hollywood, for Victor Seastrom is no longer there. Lars Hanson is back in his native land, to which lesser lights have flown.” After returning to Sweden in hope that it was there that his daughters would be raised, Sjostrom appeared with Lars Hanson and Karin Molander in a short 1931 beauty contesst film, Froken, Ni linkar Greta Garbo, where Eivor Nordstrom was chosen to be most like Greta Garbo. Its photographer was Ake Dahlquist. With Per-Axel Branner for an assistant director and actress Karin Granberg in the first film in which sshe was to appear,Juilius Jaenzon photographed and directed the fil Ulla, My Ulla, during 1930, while Victor Sjostrom returned to the screen with Brokiga Blad, in which he cast Lili Ziedner. John W. Brunius directed two films during 1930, The Doctor’s Secret (Docktorns Hemlighet) and The Two of Us (Vi Tva), in which Edvin Adolphson appeared as an actor with Margit Manstad, Marta Ekstrom and Anna-Lisa Froberg, the film having been the first in which the actress was to appear.|
|Photoplay in 1930 noted, ”At the end of every picture Greta Garbo gives an entire day to new portraits. She takes it seriously…She will be photographed on in the only in the clothes she wears in her pictures…One Garbo belongs to the public, the other is a private individual. To keep in the sustained mood she likes to have sad music played on the phonograph. To end the silent era two months before Greta Garbo’s last silent film, The Kiss (Jacques Feyder), Clarence Sinclair Bull became the gallery photographer of Greta Garbo. When Geocites closed, the still photographs scanned from the orginal negatives that Mr. Vieira sent via yahoo e-mail to the present author, and the two letters he wrote were transferred to my google blog. They include a still photograph of Greta Garbo in The Kiss left over from his editorial decision. One published photograph taken by Clarence S. Bull found by the present author was in an issue of International Photographer from 1931, a portrait of camerman John W. Boyle, who had only just then returned from Scandinavia filming a ”multi-color film” in Denmark and who would make Sweden, Land of the Viking, a travel newsreel shot on color film stock. Before his having met Greta Garbo, the photography of Clarence Sinclair Bull had been published in periodicals under the name Clarence S. Bull. During 1922, Picture-Play magazine ran his portraits of Helen Chadwick and Claire Windsor; in 1923 his portraits of Mae Busch and Mabel Ballin. His portrait of Colleen Moore had appeared in Screenland Magazine in 1922.
Wrting for Photoplay in 1930, Katherine Albert described Greta Garbo, ”The screen Garbo is somebody else, a vague,exotic mystery woman. It is not true that the publicity department has built up a Garbo myth, but it is true that the busy press agents at Metro-Goldwyn Mayer have..and the fact that she does not grant interviews and that she draws within herself and keeps secluded is as good as sending a lion around the world. However, Garbo IS mysterious.” Trying to delineate the shadow accurately with factual biography, the author added, ”Now the great Garbo walks on the set. She is always on time.”
The New Movie magazine devoted a page to Greta Garbo’s first sound film, ”Elsewhere in this issue Herb Howe refers to Greta Garbo as the Hollywood Sphinx. But the Sphinx speaks in her next Metro Godlwyn picture, a new talkie version of Eugene O’Neil’s Anna Christie, once done by Blanche Sweet. Clarence Brown is introducing the Swedish Star to the microphone.” The magazine also featured a portrait by Clarence Sinclair Bull of Garbo dressed for tennis captioned, The exotic Swedish star plays a great game of tennis. This isn’t just a posed sport picture. It’s the real thing.”
How the present author was to begin an introduction to the study of Swedish, and Swedish Silent film, was not only to plod through still photographs, but to look at the movie posters that went with each plotline: the movie poster for the film Anna Christie was Greta Garbo depicted by Eric Rohman, who along with Moje Aslund and Gosta Aberg, was among the best European movie poster artists of the early sound era.
”The Great Garbo talks- and remains great! A faultlessly directed picture with superb characterizations by Garbo, Charles Bickford, Marie Dressler and George Marion.” – Photoplay
”The Garbo Voice. What will it sound like? The whole world waits to hear the Swedish enchantress for the first time in ”Anna Christie” -Picture Play
”Greta is All for Talking-Greta Garbo believes that the voice is often remembered when the face is forgotten and that the spoken words will enable film artists to make far more lasting impressions upon their audiences.” Motion Picture Classic Magazine, 1928
was the title of the page authored by Louise Lagertstrom of the Swedish Film Institute on Greta Garbo having starred in her first sound film in the United States. George Marion, who starred with Greta Garbo in the film, had also played the same role, that of Anna’s father Kris, in Thomas Ince’s earlier silent version, starring Silent Film actress Blanche Sweet. In addition to his having filmed Anna Christie, in 1929 Greta Garbo photographer William Daniels was cinematographer to the films Their Own Desire and Wise Girls (Kempy (eleven reels), both directed by E. M. Hopper. Other romances that actor Charles Bickford had appeared in before filming with Greta Garbo were to include South Sea Rose and Dynamite; to end the silent era he had co-authored the play The Cyclone Lover. Film historian and theorist Leo Braudy has written, ”The lighting that William Daniels created for Garbo’s early silent films rendered her more erotic than any spoken dialouge.” That is not to say that that is the extent of his contribution to film history; Daniels had been trained on several of Von Strohiem’s important films, beginning with Blind Husbands in 1919 and continued in Hollywood passed the 1939 film Ninotchka untill 1970.
Greta Garbo Postscript
While waiting for the release of Anna Christie, Picture Play magazine included a portrait of Greta Garbo taken by Clarence Sinclair Bull. The New Movie Magazine was far from being entirely disinterested in Garbo, it during 1931 having reported, ”Greta Garbo’s favorite sport is walking. She spends much of ”between pictures” time at one of our nearby mountain resorts and indulges in this past time of hiking.” It was a year during which the magazine particularly noted Greta Garbo as being a photo-model as well as an actress, ”Greta Garbo herself posed for New Movie costume picture. The casual air accentuated in sports clothes is preferred by Miss Garbo, who wears them with the right carefree manner. her silk dress of wide belt and scarf collar lines with blue trim, carries out lines she likes to adapt. The vagabond hat is chosen to set it off properly.” The photographer of the shot remained unnamed.
|The Swedish Film Institute (Svenska Filminstitutet), which provides an extensive cataloging of the history of Swedish silent film from its earliest beginnings to present, is thorough in its filmography of Greta Garbo, thorough enough to list her having been included in the film The Romance of Celluloid (Celluloidens romantik), made in 1937. Elza Schallert of Motion Picture Magazine during 1937 contributed the article ”With Thalberg Gone, Will Garbo Retire?” Her reasoning began with the death of Thalberg, ”Her latest production of Camille was started by him, although carried to completion by others.” Her review of the film included, ”When Camille is released, audiences will behold a Garbo more beautiful than at any time during her career. And they will see a Garbo so frail that breathing itself will appear an effort.” It was a year in which during which Photoplay was still providing biographical data on the elusive Garbo, ”She phoned to the Grove and asked for the maitre d’hotel…Garbo herself flung the door open to his knock. She was evidently ”in the pink”…Since the day Stiller left Hollywood, heart broken by his failure, Garbo never revisited Coconut Grove.
Warner Oland returned to Stockholm in 1938 and, just as those who had known Mauritz Stiller in the United States had heard the news of his death, Oland passed away in Scandinavia before finishing the film Charlie Chan at Ringside
During 1962 a perception of the then retired Garbo was published by Richard Schickel in his coffetable book The Stars, ”Miss Garbo is, apparently as sturdy an individual as ruggedly self-sufficient…is apparently at ease socially if no one refers to her life as an actress. She is fond of small antique shops, of an occiasional afternoon at the movies, of unannounced visits to friends. She is finally one of the last devotees of that totally engaging activity walking the streets of the city, observing its endlessly fascinating life. ‘Sometimes, I put my coat on at ten in the morning and go out and follow people’ she said once, ‘I just go where they’re going. I mill around.’”