The Painted Veil

  • 1934
  • 1 HR 23 MIN
  • NR
  • Drama

Garbo had just had a smash hit with QUEEN CHRISTINA when she went into this rather standard W. Somerset Maugham love story, bringing the tale her great mystique and her great talent, and making more of it than what the material provides. Garbo marries Marshall, a physician, and journeys with him to China, where his practice keeps him too busy to occupy...read more

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Garbo had just had a smash hit with QUEEN CHRISTINA when she went into this rather standard W. Somerset Maugham love story, bringing the tale her great mystique and her great talent, and making more of it than what the material provides. Garbo marries Marshall, a physician, and journeys

with him to China, where his practice keeps him too busy to occupy Garbo's bed. She meets Brent, a political attache who has plenty of leisure time, and they spend that time together. Marshall discovers the love affair and confronts the couple. He tells Garbo that he must go into the interior,

where a cholera epidemic has broken out, and she can either accompany him or stay with Brent. Ever the politician, Brent backs off, explaining that he cannot risk the scandal. Marshall leaves for the provinces and Garbo goes with him. Once at work, Marshall tells Garbo that he is sorry for the way

he has treated her. He must go even farther into the country, he tells her, and there's no reason why she should continue to risk her health, so she can return to civilization if she likes. Garbo does not leave, but stays on to nurse the many cholera victims, and is waiting for Marshall when he

returns. The estranged couple fall in love again and renew their marriage vows. But before they can settle down, an irate Chinese stabs Marshall when he orders a section of the disease-infected city burned. Brent arrives in the city just as Garbo learns that Marshall is wounded, but when he asks

her to go away with him, she rejects him and goes to nurse Marshall back to health. Garbo is magnificent throughout this weak story, in one stunning scene after another. Terror quietly creeps across her veiled face as she sits through a dinner with Marshall, wondering if he is aware of her affair

or not; later, in the scene in which she waits outside a hospital room to hear whether or not her husband will live, Garbo stoops in grief, her shoulders curved awkwardly inward, her form racked with sorrow. Here was an actress who acted with her face and body. MGM spent more than $1 million on

this production and it did not do well at the box office, through no fault of its star. Reportedly, Garbo and her costar Brent had a short but torrid affair offscreen that ended abruptly when Brent insisted upon marriage. The plot line of THE PAINTED VEIL bears a remarkable likeness to that of a

1929 Garbo vehicle, WILD ORCHIDS.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Garbo had just had a smash hit with QUEEN CHRISTINA when she went into this rather standard W. Somerset Maugham love story, bringing the tale her great mystique and her great talent, and making more of it than what the material provides. Garbo marries Mars… (more)

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