A young girl and her father are kicked out of their house by a cruel noblewoman, and the girl's heart is broken when her sweetheart, the noblewoman's son, won't go to Paris with them. After...
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Vienna in the biggest depression, directly after WW1. In a slum, Lila Leid, the wife of lawyer Leid is murdered, Egon, secretary of one of Leid's clients is arrested. He was with her, and ... See full summary »
Georg Wilhelm Pabst
A young girl and her father are kicked out of their house by a cruel noblewoman, and the girl's heart is broken when her sweetheart, the noblewoman's son, won't go to Paris with them. After becoming an opera star in Paris, the girl returns to her homeland and finds her romance with the nobleman rekindled.Written by
I was given the opportunity to see this 1926 film in a magnificently restored theater that was once part of the extensive Paramount chain of vaudeville houses. This Paramount has a Mighty Wurlitzer' organ also magnificently restored -- that was used to accompany the silent films of the day.
We were fortunate enough to have Dennis James, a key figure in the international revival of silent films at the Mighty Wurlitzer playing appropriate music and thematic compositions fitting to the action on the film. The print was a nearly perfect digital copy of the rapidly decaying nitrate negative and the entire experience was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see a silent film as it was meant to be seen.
This was Greta Garbo's first American film. She was only 20 years old but already had 6 Swedish films in her repertoire.
It is somewhat ironic that this is a silent film about an opera star; even though the Mighty Wurlitzer added immensely to the mise-en-scene, it was necessary to leave much to the imagination.
Modern audiences, for the most part, do not understand silent films Acting was different then, with expansive gestures and broad facial expressions. Therefore audiences laugh at inappropriate times the acting is seen as hammy' and over-done but it was simply the style of the period.
Garbo, with all her subtlety, did much to usher in the new age of acting: she could say more with a half-closed eye and volumes could be read into a downward glance or a simple shrug. She exemplifies the truism that `a picture is worth a thousand words.'
Even though this is Garbo's first American film it is pretty obvious the studio knew what they had on their hands: This was MGM filmmaking at its best. The sets and costumes were magnificent. The special effects which by today's standards are pretty feeble were still electrifying and amazing.
The script by Vicente Blasco Ibanez (from the novel by Entre Naranjos) would seem to be tailor made for Garbo; it showcases her strengths, magnifies her assets and there is no pesky language problem to deal with: a Swedish actress can play a Spanish temptress with no suspension of disbelief on our part.
Her co-star was MGM's answer to Rudolph Valentino: Ricardo Cortez. He does an admirable job and did something that few romantic stars of the day ever would have done in a film: allow himself to look unnactractive, appear foolish and to grow old ungracefully.
There are some fairly good character parts that are more than adequately acted especially when you consider the powerhouse that was Garbo. Notable among them are Lucien Littlefield as Cupido' and Martha Mattox as Doña Bernarda Brull.'
This is when the extraordinary cinematographer, William H. Daniels, met Garbo they went on to make 20 films together. (He was the cinematographer on 157 films and his career spanned five decades!) He was able to capture her ethereal beauty and it was his photography that was primarily responsible for the moniker by which she became known: The Divine Garbo. Without his magnificent abilities she would not have been the success that she was.
Seeing this film is an all-too-rare opportunity: if you ever have the chance, do not miss it.
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