Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 1926. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Screenplay by Benjamin Glazer, titles by Marian Ainslee, based on the novel The Undying Past by Hermann Sudermann. Cinematography by William H. Daniels. Produced by Irving Thalberg. Music by Carl Davis. Production Design by Cedric Gibbons, Fredric Hope. Costume Design by Andre-ani. Film Editing by Lloyd Nosier.
The great Garbo is luminous in this beautiful silent film, a piece of romantic hogwash that is quite entertaining despite its rigorous use of cliches. John Gilbert, smouldering movie star of his day, plays a soldier who goes home on furlough with his best friend (Lars Hanson) and attends a ball in their honour. At the party he meets the devastatingly beautiful Garbo and goes gaga for her immediately, but when her older husband comes home and finds them kissy-kissy in her boudoir, they agree to a pistol duel and Gilbert kills her husband in the fight. The army sentences him to five years at a remote post in Africa, after which he comes home to find that Hanson (whom he spends more time embracing than Garbo in this film) has married the lady and is keeping her quite comfortable in his mansion. Gorgeous backdrops, strong direction and Garbo’s incredibly natural instincts make for a memorable occasion, even if you’ve seen the story a million times before (and anyone over the age of six generally has).