CaveGirl

Garbo

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Only one word needed to bring to mind her allure. Though I've seen all her movies from back to front, I got caught up yesterday in watching her as Anna Karenina in the Tolstoy classic. Usually a sphinx of emotion, in this film one sees other sides to Garbo in her loving and whimsical ways with son, Sergei, as played by Freddie Bartholemew.

Her metier was usually of a less emotive style, as witnessed in films like "Mata Hari", or "The Painted Veil" or "Queen Christina". We know deep emotional torrents are just below the surface, but Garbo's face often only shows such things behind the eyes. She acts usually in an internal, not external way, which makes things much more interesting since we can read into her thoughts and place our own feelings in the scenes, like the famous ending of "Queen Christina" on the vessel, with the wind blowing through her hair. I read once, that perhaps the wind was not realistically blowing correctly, but who cares. With that face, all is forgiven.

There is so much more to Garbo than her looks, but maybe not. Maybe her blankness is just the perfect canvas for everyone to claim entering her soul. A make-up man once rhapsodized about her facial physiognomy, commenting on the planes and her naturally long lashes and the joy of making her up. Her beauty was best expressed on screen by the work of cinematographer, Billy Daniels [aka Wm. H. Daniels] who was also a favorite of John Barrymore's, since he said Daniels could take out the bags from under his eyes just by his lighting techniques. Garbo chose Daniels for her final screen test made in 1949, which shows her still at her best and most luminescent. 

I watched AK, wondering why no one since Garbo seems to have the same physical presence on screen, or the ability to transcend reality. Is it the off-screen mystique that still translates something special on screen? Though I can think of current actresses I admire, none really seem up to her persona in film lore. Some say, it is the androgynous quality which made Garbo a favorite of both men and women. I don't know but I do know that she was one of a kind never to be replaced.

Sorry for the paean to her magnificence. Any other fans here and please give your thoughts on why Garbo still invites praise and attraction.

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Very good topic cavegirl, writing or even speaking about her & especially in our era is difficult & becoming more so with each passing year. Most thesedays never even heard of her or say what I totally despise younger folks saying about history "It Was Before My Time" unquote  these small minded computer driven only don't stop to realize that means HISTORY!?  Which is among my fav. subjects even as a wee lad & long before my love of THE MOVIES too. The likes of GRETA & over 20yrs back PREMIERE MAGAZINE-(l987-2002) had an article then around '96 or even earlier & it's author said thesedays you rarely hear about W.C,. Fields anymore & that is 100% on the money & getting more & more so.  In her era Garbo was treated of thought of with HOLLYWOOD as "A GODDESS" & in some polls even today she's still sometimes voted as A #! all-time actress-(though critics usually vote for *Bergman & obviously the *Academy says *Kate) An aside & it is obvious no mater her over the top political beliefs that *Streep will eventually conquer all of these things though. As a small example pf GARBO's impact & respect back then, the likes of  *Billy Wilder, *Jimmy Stewart, Maureen 0'Sullivan, Rouben Mamoulian, Clarence Brown, *Cukor, Gloria Swanson, F. Bathgolomew, Lubitsch & more insiders without pause thought she was A #!  A funny item about *Stewart & he worked it into one of his Johnny Carson appearances & his marvelous poems. He had been racing around the half of MGM & looking to just see & meet her, then all of a sudden he ran right into her & knocked her right on her ****   *wilder yrs later said in another interview that no actress had that much screen voltage with her face except her & MARILYN.   But, she did do John Gilbert dirty  in leaving the already fragile actor at the alter  THANK YOU

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I also agree with most in her ultimate role was 1933's "QUEEN CHISTINA" (MGM) & CAN't GET AWAY WITH SOME TRIVIA FOR YOU FANS    What 3 films was she nommed for???   & even more so-(NO LOOKING IT UP NOW AGAIN, MUST COME FROM YOUR MOVIE BRAIN< AS I ALWAYS DO) What film did she win 3 performances did "THE GODDESS" WIN (NY FILM CRITICS SOCIETY)???

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Many film historians always include her peformance in '37;'CAMILLE among the top 4 ot 5 ever given by an actresss!

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4 minutes ago, spence said:

I also agree with most in her ultimate role was 1933's "QUEEN CHISTINA" (MGM) & CAN't GET AWAY WITH SOME TRIVIA FOR YOU FANS    What 3 films was she nommed for???   & even more so-(NO LOOKING IT UP NOW AGAIN, MUST COME FROM YOUR MOVIE BRAIN< AS I ALWAYS DO) What film did she win 3 performances did "THE GODDESS" WIN (NY FILM CRITICS SOCIETY)???

Thanks, Spence! She did make sure Gilbert got a juicy screen role though, even though she refused to marry him. I appreciate your thoughts.

 

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2 hours ago, CaveGirl said:

Thanks, Spence! She did make sure Gilbert got a juicy screen role though, even though she refused to marry him. I appreciate your thoughts.

 

& maybe feeling guilty she really nagged M-G-M-( L.B. Mayer hated her & often called her "THAT BIG DUMB SWEDE" unquote   Problem being for him is she was getting more & more popular at the $B.O$  & as for the tragic Gilbert to star in her excellent 4 star version of "ANNA KARENIA" (l935) but they wanted *F. March instead  She did get him to star opposite him in what most consider her ultimate role 1933's "QUEEN CHISTINA"-(robbed an  *Academy Award & wasn't even in the race for it?)  & when she first arrived on a boat from Sweden with her mentor Maurice Stiller-(think that was his name) they only wanted her & not him, he died not too long after heart broken not only because his director career was over, but was deeply "IN LOVE" with GARBO too. & L.B. immediately started in insulting her soon as she arrived to that the mt summit of DREAM FACTORIES telling her American men don't like fat women unquote She later said she proceeded to only eat so much spinach it was coming of of he ears  & her per in '37's "CAMILLE" (***1/2)-(ALL HER FLIX WERE FOR METRO-she only made 26) Historians have for yrs said it was thee greatest performance ever by an actress & still rank it up there in this era!

The New York Film Critics Award (NYFC) (est: 1935-) did honor her 2 times for Best actress though

1935's ANNA KARENIA (Best Actress) (The *Oscar that year instead went to *Bette Davis in "Dangerous")

'37 CAMILLE (Best Actress) (*Luise Rainer took home her 2nd in a row for "The Good Earth"instead

 

Garbo did try a comeback around '47 & even gave a rare-(for her) screen test, in color as well, no picture of hers had ever been in color, but things just didn't work out)

 

& she died rather wealthy after her now legendary NYC move, later even finding out she owned-(investments early on) & even discovered she own several areas in down town LA

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& when Garbo died in '90, she was cremated,m but  recall via the net. They they eve7...…………………………………………………………..hER NIECE YRS LATER MOVEED gARG

 

 

hRR MOIECE L;ASTER MOVED HER ASHES TO HER OWN HOMEONLY SR ESD 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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& DURING THE EARLY 1930'S garbo was the highest d actress withn the industry, *Bette Davis=& came shortly after & was also very first female *Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences-(AMPAS) president around 1935. ironically about same period she won her first of 2 leading actress *Oscar & *Davis was also around then Hollywoods highest pd actress on top of it all. Never among my top 5 or so personal favorite actresses, *Bette, but there is no doubt she's among the very best ever to grave the silver-screen-(98 films she made!) & tremendoiuis businesswoimabn (NOTE: asked this befoire, nobody answered though  coincerniung her & her rival over at M-G-M at the time-(l930's & early '40's *Joan Crawfoird-(l904-77) who saw last yrs tv movie/mini-series on tv's FX "Feud?" 

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Garbo is as ineffable as light itself. I don't know if that makes any sense. I love her in Ninotchka and Camille as well as in AK. She is my favorite AK for her convincing interaction with her son.  It is those scenes that maker her AK so devastating. When she is denied access...it cuts. 

 She is illusive. She remained ever so. That is the thing in tandem with the looks and what goes on behind the eyes. She also was unconventional and in the end didn't conform to anyone's expectations.  I think we bring all of the after story to her screen time when we see her, and all of that informs what we see. Men and women respond to her because she is such a strong, gorgeous woman who could also act.

However, I don't want that to take away with what she does in her craft. She was masterful. 

The jewels and lighting didn't hurt, either.

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7 minutes ago, MotherofZeus said:

Garbo is as ineffable as light itself. I don't know if that makes any sense. I love her in Ninotchka and Camille as well as in AK. She is my favorite AK for her convincing interaction with her son.  It is those scenes that maker her AK so devastating. When she is denied access...it cuts. 

 She is illusive. She remained ever so. That is the thing in tandem with the looks and what goes on behind the eyes. She also was unconventional and in the end didn't conform to anyone's expectations.  I think we bring all of the after story to her screen time when we see her, and all of that informs what we see. Men and women respond to her because she is such a strong, gorgeous woman who could also act.

However, I don't want that to take away with what she does in her craft. She was masterful. 

The jewels and lighting didn't hurt, either.


"Ineffable as light" makes total sense, as does everything you reflected upon, MOZ!

Thanks for your most astute insights. There's just no one like Garbo now and how could there be another?

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I don't like to think of her as a blank canvas upon which anything is projected.  There is a great deal of agency in her acting although it is minimalist to be sure (except for when it isn't).

giphy-downsized.gif

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43 minutes ago, MotherofZeus said:

I don't like to think of her as a blank canvas upon which anything is projected.  There is a great deal of agency in her acting although it is minimalist to be sure (except for when it isn't).

giphy-downsized.gif

I agree, most of her roles did consist of controlled acting but not a blank state. I was thinking of the ending of "Queen Christina" though where she is pretty much sphinxlike. Funny you picked this wonderful scene with the snow, which I enjoyed watching last night. I kept thinking though how stars would talk about how those fake MGM snowflakes would cut into your skin as they swirled around. But it did look beautiful!

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8 minutes ago, CaveGirl said:

I agree, most of her roles did consist of controlled acting but not a blank state. I was thinking of the ending of "Queen Christina" though where she is pretty much sphinxlike. Funny you picked this wonderful scene with the snow, which I enjoyed watching last night. I kept thinking though how stars would talk about how those fake MGM snowflakes would cut into your skin as they swirled around. But it did look beautiful!

Doesn't a queen have to be sphynxlike?  Isn't HHR Elizabeth II mostly that? By the way, I meant to ask you, do you have a thread somewhere about jewelry and accessories?  I'm thinking of how they make a character...there is so much to discuss.

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Usually, unless she is Queenie Leonard who always played demure domestics! As for HHR Elizabeth, apparently you have not seen the latest photos of her yucking it up with Meghan M. Windsor as they've become besties.

I don't have a thread about jewelry and accessories but maybe we can start one, to aid TCM in coming up with some really noirish accessories like Cordey purses and Hobe jewelry. I'm game...are you?

By the way, I doubt that the noir boys like Alan K. Rode even know what an Eisenberg pin is, even though they think they know everything about Marie Windsor. So sad...

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30 minutes ago, MotherofZeus said:

Doesn't a queen have to be sphynxlike?  Isn't HHR Elizabeth II mostly that? By the way, I meant to ask you, do you have a thread somewhere about jewelry and accessories?  I'm thinking of how they make a character...there is so much to discuss.

Several months ago we had a thread about Givenchy because he had recently died. We really had a field day with that talking about Audrey Hepburn and Edith Head as well. You might want to take a look at it.

I think if you look closely enough, you'll find it under General Discussions. It was a lot of fun.

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The OP: I watched AK, wondering why no one since Garbo seems to have the same physical presence on screen, or the ability to transcend reality.

Well I tried introducing Garbo to my teen who loved classic movies.....thud! For some reason, her performance did not reach this millennial with the same impact it did for me, first seeing her at that age. The kid was bored by Garbo and wasn't even impressed with her beauty!

OTOH, this same girl was completely enraptured by Louise Brooks! We returned from an evening out to find her glued to TCM watching Brooks in a silent film! She discovered it all on her own, not even realizing Brooks is the same girl in the photos throughout my house.

The only thing I can attribute it to is "age". Possibly the Garbo movie was too adult a theme for this teen to connect. But I was still shocked, shocked that Garbo's charm did not reach her.

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Well, truthfully, I never quite "got" the "allure" of Garbo either.  But to each their own( as most know, I'm the same concerning Marlene Dietrich ).  

Every time I see Garbo in a movie I keep looking for the marionette strings.  But, this IS one of those "I drank that KOOL-ADE" threads, so I'm outa here....

Sepiatone

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17 hours ago, MotherofZeus said:

Garbo is as ineffable as light itself. I don't know if that makes any sense. I love her in Ninotchka and Camille as well as in AK. She is my favorite AK for her convincing interaction with her son.  It is those scenes that maker her AK so devastating. When she is denied access...it cuts. 

 She is illusive. She remained ever so. That is the thing in tandem with the looks and what goes on behind the eyes. She also was unconventional and in the end didn't conform to anyone's expectations.  I think we bring all of the after story to her screen time when we see her, and all of that informs what we see. Men and women respond to her because she is such a strong, gorgeous woman who could also act.

However, I don't want that to take away with what she does in her craft. She was masterful. 

The jewels and lighting didn't hurt, either.

Yeah Mother, many vote for such and such as the greatest performer & yet to me the true measure is if they could also do both DRAMA & COMERDY  i.e. *TRASCY, CARY GRANT, STAWYCK. & of course "THE GODDESS: GASRBO" though really only stretched to comedy with NINOTCHKA-(her 3rd & last nom)0etc

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55 minutes ago, spence said:

Yeah Mother, many vote for such and such as the greatest performer & yet to me the true measure is if they could also do both DRAMA & COMERDY  i.e. *TRASCY, CARY GRANT, STAWYCK. & of course "THE GODDESS: GASRBO" though really only stretched to comedy with NINOTCHKA-(her 3rd & last nom)0etc

Let's remember Cagney, Garland, Hepburn (Audrey and Katherine), Jimmy Stewart, Chaplin and many others in this diminishing pool of multi-talented performers. 

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18 hours ago, Princess of Tap said:

Several months ago we had a thread about Givenchy because he had recently died. We really had a field day with that talking about Audrey Hepburn and Edith Head as well. You might want to take a look at it.

I think if you look closely enough, you'll find it under General Discussions. It was a lot of fun.

Thank you so much, Princess; it sounds like fascinating reading and I love Givenchy and all of his designs!

Good old Edith Head, was a pioneer and one has gotta love her own totally understate style, which became iconic.

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4 hours ago, Sepiatone said:

Well, truthfully, I never quite "got" the "allure" of Garbo either.  But to each their own( as most know, I'm the same concerning Marlene Dietrich ).  

Every time I see Garbo in a movie I keep looking for the marionette strings.  But, this IS one of those "I drank that KOOL-ADE" threads, so I'm outa here....

Sepiatone

Hey, differences of opinion make the world go round, Sepia and I'm sure you are not alone. Garbo may be an acquired taste. Even my grandma said that some found her not appealing, and thought she was long and lanky and had big feet. All one need do is look at cartoons of the time where they parodied her looks and voice. Her elongated frame though was a perfect base for all those beautiful, fluffy costume drama roles, and I guess everyone has what to some might be a defect that could turn into an asset. Enjoyed reading of your distaste...haha!

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6 hours ago, CaveGirl said:

Hey, differences of opinion make the world go round, Sepia and I'm sure you are not alone. Garbo may be an acquired taste. Even my grandma said that some found her not appealing, and thought she was long and lanky and had big feet. All one need do is look at cartoons of the time where they parodied her looks and voice. Her elongated frame though was a perfect base for all those beautiful, fluffy costume drama roles, and I guess everyone has what to some might be a defect that could turn into an asset. Enjoyed reading of your distaste...haha!

@Sepiatone, I feel that way about Norma Shearer. Just. Don't. Get. It. However, she clearly struck a chord with some. I find her a fascinating person to study but not as an actress. I think @CaveGirl has it right that it takes all kinds. 

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14 hours ago, Sepiatone said:

Well, truthfully, I never quite "got" the "allure" of Garbo either.  But to each their own( as most know, I'm the same concerning Marlene Dietrich ).  

Sepiatone, I feel exactly like you do about both Garbo and Dietrich. I never understood the allure that either of them had but I can appreciate the fascination that fans have with them.

By the way, where is "johnboy"? Wasn't he the poster that absolutely adored Garbo?  He would always post a response to anything related to Garbo. And he initiated many threads on her. I wonder what happened to him. He would surely appreciate this thread. 

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Speaking of Garbo, I have noticed that TCM rarely shows "As You Desire Me". Does anyone know why? The last time it aired on TCM was in 2006. 

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I would have liked to see Garbo mature on film and see what she chose to do if she was able to follow Bette Davies' lead in fighting for her films. As a woman who shattered convention in her private life, I would have loved to see if she chose to do so in subtle or big ways on the screen.

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