Romance (1930)

CLARENCE BROWN

Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BB.  USA, 1930.  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.  Screenplay by , , from the play by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by Clarence Brown.  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Academy Awards 1929/1930.  

Greta Garbo and Gavin Gordon in Romance. Garbo was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar.

Unwatchable cornfest that captures  between stages of development as a film actress:  pulling large facial expressions as if she were still in a silent movie, then forced to point her overwrought dialogue at the hidden microphones that were typical of early sound features.  The story begins with the ridiculous framing device of a young aristocrat who is threatening his family’s respectability with his intentions to marry, god forbid, an actress.  His ancient grandfather flashes him back to his own youth when he (played by  at both ages) fell in love with a glorious opera singer (Garbo) who, in this film’s simple understanding of the kind of work involved in being that great a singer, spends her free time as something about two steps above a courtesan.  Gordon loves her and she, accustomed to being mistress to rich benefactors, feels real love for the first time, but is it possible given that they come from two different worlds?  What’s worthwhile about this film (and little is, you can watch many better movies to see Garbo shine) is that her stock Camille type character is not punished for sexual indiscretion and the conclusion does not tow the moral line you expect it to.  Still, it’s tough to sit through and hopelessly dated.

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