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Johnny Mack Brown
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Georg Wilhelm Pabst
Lillie Sterling comes with her husband, John, on a business trip to Java, expecting a second honeymoon. On the ship, she witnesses Javanese Prince De Gace mercilessly whipping a servant and shrinks in horror from the sight. When John is befriended by the Prince, who is very attracted to Lillie, she tries to have little to do with him. During a conversation in their room, John is called away to answer a wire, and the Prince steals a kiss in his absence, for which she slaps him. So she is understandably upset when John accepts the Prince's invitation to stay at his plantation in Java when he promised to arrange a tiger hunt. She tries to dissuade John from going, but John says he always wanted to shoot a tiger and she is being unreasonable. Once at the plantation, John is too busy to pay much attention to Lillie, and when he is away, the Prince tries to seduce her. Lillie flees in tears after another kiss, afraid of her own emotions. Finally, she embraces the Prince when he tries again,...Written by
Arthur Hausner <email@example.com>
During production Greta Garbo's friend and mentor, Mauritz Stiller, died in Sweden. Devastated by his death, Garbo traveled to Sweden incognito to mourn his death. Her secretive travel plans were quickly foiled when she was recognized on the voyage. See more »
Prince De Gace:
You are like the orchids of your country - you have the same cold enchantment. In Java the orchids grow wild - and their perfume fills the air.
And the women of Java - do they grow wild, too?
Prince De Gace:
Not wild - but natural. They do not pretend to be cold - The heat - the everlasting heat - strips everyone of all pretense. It would be fascinating to learn whether your coldness - is only a pretense.
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During nights scented with the perfume of WILD ORCHIDS, a Javanese prince woos the beautiful wife of a visiting American tycoon.
Although really little more than a story about a romantic triangle, the excellent acting & superb presentation make this a very enjoyable film.
Greta Garbo, exquisite & serene, shows once again that she was more than just a perfectly sculpted face. She was also a very disciplined actress who used her tightly controlled body to convey emotional depths and subtle nuances. Even in what for her was a rather minor film, she is a marvel to watch, beyond superlatives, exhausting all adjectives. She is simply Garbo and that is enough.
For sheer exoticism, few Hollywood male stars of the period could compete with Garbo. Nils Asther was one of these. Although Scandinavian, something about the bone structure of his face made him ideal for Asian roles. He had already enjoyed much success as a matinee idol by the time WILD ORCHIDS was filmed. A fine actor, he seems loath to accede all of the viewers' attention to Garbo. (Swedes both, they must have had some interesting private conversations on the set.) Asther makes his characterization of the Prince a compelling blend of charm & cowardice - a creature quite capable of seducing his sultry costar into marital infidelity. The onset of talkies would prove difficult for Asther, his heavy accent making it hard for MGM to cast him effectively and he would eventually return to Sweden. However, when given the right role, as in Frank Capra's THE BITTER TEA OF GENERAL YEN (1933), Asther was able to exhibit the natural talent he was seldom called upon to use.
Lewis Stone is the solid fulcrum over which his two extravagant costars teeter. While they exude passion & sensuality, he revels in the simpler virtues - duty, dignity, and, when he finally catches on to the Prince's depredations, righteous wrath. He manages to infuse all this with a quiet sense of befuddled humor, which only makes his character all the more human.
The film's first rate production values make the heat & hedonism of Java come alive for the viewer. The Javanese dancing is of particular interest. The use of sound effects in this late silent film is of some significance - they perfectly illustrate where some film purists thought the cinema should remain: with music and effects, but definitely no dialogue.
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