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Romance Reviews

This was Garbo's second talkie, and it tried to capture the fiery seductions of her silent-era films such as FLESH AND THE DEVIL, but her leading man, Gordon, was no John Gilbert. Garbo is an Italian opera diva (supposedly a soprano, but really a contralto) who is attracted to a young curate, Gordon, and seduces him. We see these lovers in a flashback related by Gordon when, as an elderly bishop, he is trying to dissuade his grandson, Nugent, from marrying an actress. Garbo is shown falling in love with the younger Gordon and confessing that she has been the kept woman of wealthy Stone. Garbo gives a final performance and then goes to Stone, telling him that she is leaving him for her one true love, Gordon. Gordon discovers that Garbo has seen the elderly man once again, and, believing she has been unfaithful to him, denounces her. He then apologizes and begs that she spend the night with him. Garbo is stunned, believing Gordon to be different, and asks that he not treat her as other men have. When she begins to pray, Gordon realizes that he has been controlled by lust and leaves Garbo forever, bringing the story in flash-forward to Gordon's discussion with Nugent. The grandson cannot be put off from marrying his actress and does. Gordon then reads of Garbo's death in a newspaper account and sinks into sorrow. This film does not quite come off, though Garbo is fascinating to watch. The story line and Gordon are just too weak for Garbo to drag the film into greatness, try as she might. Her skill with dialog is evident, and just watching this magnificent actress is reward enough to sit through a less-than-spectacular film. The Garbo portion of the film is set in 1850 and Gordon is looking back half a century, yet the surroundings of his old age are more in the style of the 1930s than 1900, where the last setting should be. Garbo and Brown both earned Oscar nominations for their work on this film and ANNA CHRISTIE.