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As I post this, the network is still airing this legendary actress & her silent era work


But, I mostly wanted to touch upon the new documentary that 1st aired last evening "GARBO"


It was very good, but as with: S. McQueen's it left a lot out?

This was not the case with it's brand new: Errol Flynn-(1909-59) docu. from May though. It was excellent & pretty-much hit all the bases.


They neglected to mention the death of: John Gilbert-(1895-1936) Of course from massive alcoholism-(matter of fact, he made a pact with another fmr silent star, an actress. Which one of them could drink the other to their grave 1st. Mr. Gilbert won this bet, but only by a year or so. Died of a heart attack & in bed-(books such as "Hollywood Babylon" photograph everything & it's disgusting!)


Also, that "Guinness Book of Records," voted Garbo "The Most Beautiful Woman of All-Time!"-(this not limited to cinema either. I don't understand it though, given that is an opnion, as opposed to a record? However, it's in it's vaults!)


& also, of her only 3 ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATIONS>1929-30 "Anna Christie"

1937 "Camille"-(P.S. this was the yr. most pundits thought she'd win. But, she was not popular among the upper echelon-(Moguls,etc) that had for the most pt controled the AMPAS for it's first decade. Most notably, L.B.Mayer-(1885-1957)! She did get NY Film Critics Award for this though & 1935's "Anna Karenina")

& 1939's "Ninotchka" (all of course: M-G-M)


Also, Adolph Hitler was more than infatuated with the actress & desperately wanted her to actually visit him in Berlin? It obviously never occured.


This on a bit of a lesser note. Most know 1 most be present to get an AFI Award-(Hence no>*Kate,*Brando or Greta)

But she did rank #5th in it's 1999 "AFI's 100 years...100 Stars"-(of actresses/female stars)

Even: *Katharine Hepburn-(1907-2003) Of whom was voted #1 in the latter poll. Thought Garbo was the finest, on the female side of the acting fence!



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Yeah, they did seem to have left out a lot. There wasn't really anything in it that I hadn't already learned from other souces (books, etc). But Julie Christie was a good choice as narrator--her voice is wonderful and didn't she also walk away from movies for a while? Of course she came back, but interesting parallel, if true. The footage of the Garbo screen test was a nice addition, too--she could have easily made more movies and pulled off the aging beauty thing. She was getting a little creased, but no more so than any other star her age and a lot less than many (like Bette Davis, who, as much as I love her, did not age well). It's too bad no one was willing to take a chance on her.

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Stoney--I'm not an expert (I seem to always qualify my answers LOL) but I think that a lot of times that silent actors didn't always speak the dialogue, just gave a suggestion of what the scene was about with the title cards showing the actual "script." I think a lot of Italian films with non Italian speakers did the same thing, like Anthony Quinn in La Strada. He just spoke some thing and Fellini later dubbed in the dialogue. Or maybe I'm just an idiot. You decide ;)

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I've always thought it would be fascinating to watch silent films with a lipreader who could tell me exactly what the actors are saying.


I enjoyed the Garbo documentary very much. Though I am not a big fan, I wanted to know more about this extremely important figure in the history of the movies. Brownlow is such a thoughtful maker of documentaries.

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About what the actors are saying vs. what the title cards read: for the most part the actors seem to be saying what the title cards read, but I know that's not always the case. I read somewhere that there is a film Clara Bow and I believe Buddy Rogers made together, and there is a scene where the characters are supposed to be fighting and Clara is yelling at him, but in reality she was actually giving him words of encouragement. :-)

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They had 90 minutes and I think rather than go over the already famous details (the break-up of the Gilbert/Garbo affair, the almost wedding, etc, I think one of the things Brownlow, Bird and Stanbury wanted to show was the Garbo we are not as familar with.


I really enjoyed the doc and loved the stuff with Clarence Brown, George Cukor and most of all Garbo's family and friends, especially the one from Sweden.


I felt like I learned some new info about her. Robert Osbourne, in his opening remarks, said there was going to be another doc later this month on Garbo as well. So perhaps the two docs together give a more "complete" look at the life and myth of Garbo. No sense having two docs that go over the same material.




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  • 2 weeks later...

I posted this elsewhere, but since it's applicable:


I'm sure someone will be very upset at my saying so, but the new Garbo documentary was a real disappointment for my wife and I.


Let me qualify: there are some VERY interesting elements. Some of the interviewees are very good and the test footage and lighting example are very nice to see.


Other than that, the structure, scholarship and style of this production makes it seem amateur at best. I know Brownlow has a great reputation, but this looked and felt like a cheap 1980's biography, not up to the classy standards that TCM usually has.


Factual information is often overrun by people gushing about how mysterious Garbo was and mere conjecture by certain of the interviewees serves as the factual backbone of the piece.


The visual and pacing style fare no better, resembling late 80's-early 90's television. There are visual montages that are segues to nothing since the doc. has little to no structure, chronological or topical.


Look, I realize that it has some pros, but overall this felt like a half-hour biography piece with a few good ideas drawn out way too long. TCM generally has much higher standards for this type of thing.


Sorry! Flame away...

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I sometimes feel I am missing something when subtitles in foreign films do not seem to relate all that is evidently being said by the actors and tend to blame whoever's in charge of this for laziness or carelessness. I feel much less so with silents because the original filmmakers are giving us what they feel we need in the way of dialogue and there is at least no "middle man" (i.e.,the subtitle makers in the case of foreign films) to muck it up.

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