Greta Garbo and Victor Sjostrom

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Greta Garbo before Hollywood- Lars Hanson

The 1927 article "Swedish Hospitality featured in Motion Picture Magazine gave an account of journalist Rilla Page Palmborg, author of "The Private Life of Greta Garbo", being entertained by actor Lars Hanson and his wife, Swedish actress Karin Molander. It began, " 'And now we shall see if you like real Swedish cooking,' said Lars Hanson as he escorted us across the velvety green lawn of his walled garden, where for the past hour we had sat enthralled by the tales he and his charming wife had told us of their native land...This was a Sunday supper to which we had been invited. 'My wife prepared everything when I her that I had promised you real Swedish cooking.' Said Mr. Hanson as we took our places at a long refectory table in a long, rather narrow and dignified dining-room."

Fact may be just as exiciting as fiction to historians when we think that the events of the nineteenth century, depicted in the twentieth, are already culturally different from ours, especially in film the show the humanity that we still do have in common, or rather psychological insights about characters in moral dilemas; in fact Moving Picture World contrasted the character portrayed by Lars Hanson in John Robertson's film with a "more straitlaced" character that Hanson had played earlier for Victor Sjostrom in his depiction of Puritan Colonialism, "The Scarlet Letter". Photoplay reviewed the film. "A well knit drama is this story of how the gospel ship came into being." A ship embarks from the Boston waterfront and is saved from shipwreck off to become apparently a then "floating church" The film might be historically inaccurate about the date triangular trade hade ended in regard to the War of 1812. Motion Picture News subtitled their review with a "Rugged, Well Acted Story of the first Gospel Ship" while the periodical Motion Picture News subtitled their review with "Lars Hanson and Pauline Starke in Gripping Drama of Founding of First Gospel Ship". The subtitles used in Motion Picture World were directed more toward the jazz age- one page announcing the film "Flesh and the Devil" in which Lars Hanson, starred with Greta Garbo and John Gilbert, as being busy "Cleaning Up" at the box office, while "Captain Salvation" was in production for Cosmopolitan with "Wild Crew Now Sails the Main". Motion Picture World announced that the seventy five actors of the studio were filming exterior scenes ar Catalina Island, the "dramatic action" filmed after having "set sail" on the "high seas".

Picture Play magazine during 1927 featured stills from the eight reel film "Captain Salvation", starring Lars Hanson. They were captioned with, "Lars Hanson has another intensely dramatic role in 'Captain Salvation', that of a young New Englander whose heart is in the sea, but who is forced his uncle to go onto the ministry...Marceleine Day as the girl who waits for him at home." Motion Picture News Booking Guide during 1927 provided a brief synopsis of the film, "Theme: Melodrama of the sea. Adaptation of the novel by Fredrick William Wallace, Divinity Student forsakes the pulpit for the sea, forgets his faith and becomes aide of a much feared skipper. His regeneration is brought about through an unfortunate girl he befriends. After her death he is reunited with his sweetheart." The cameraman to the film is listed as William Daniels and the scenarist as Jack Dunningham. Photoplay Magazine reviewed the eight reel silent film, "Pauline Starke is Excellant as the waterfront derelict." In a photo caption to a full page portrait of Pauline Starke, Picture Play magazine introduced her upcoming film, "If you saw 'Captain Salvation' you have no doubt of Pauline Starke's dramatic gifts. If you did not, you will find proof of them in 'Fallen Angles'".
Child actor Jackie Coogan was employed in the title role of the seven reel film "Buttons" (1927, George W. Hill), in which he starred with Lars Hanson, Gertrude Olmstead and Polly Moran. Photoplay provided a brief synopsis of the film during its review, "the ship strikes an iceberg and then founders, with little Jackie standing by on the bridge with the captain to the last. Both are saved, however."

With the advent of sound, Picture Play magazine in 1929 featured an article titled "Have foreigners a Chance Now?", written by Myrtle Gebhart, evaluating the inconstant position of foreign stars in the firmament "defeated by the microphone", including British actors that had already returned to England. The author turned to Sweden, "Greta Garbo's first out loud. 'Anna Christie' is fogged with her native accent...Enchanting Greta Nissen is routined with an obscure stock company to acquire English dexterity...Lars Hanson and Mona Martenson, better known abroad than Garbo did not click. That was prior to the accent age."
     On his return to Sweden, Photoplay Magazine recorded,"Contentment meant more to Lars than money. He writes that he is happier than he has ever been in the Royal Dramatic Theater in Stockholm."  Katherine Albert of Photoplay in 1932 seemed to feel she had the definitive account of Lars Hanson having had been excluded from sound film, although Hanson had returned to Sweden and would not much later costar with Victor Sjostrom who had relinquished directing upon his return to Sweden to continue only as an actor, the film having been shot by director Gustav Edren. She wrote, "And there was a Swedish Girl who had just been brought over with a great director. None of us could see why they had been given a contract. She was too tall, too gawky and had none of the requirements of a great actress. She just wandered about the lot and nobody paid her any attention. her name was Greta Garbo. No, we were concerned with the artists Lillian Gish and that marvelous actor Lars Hanson. And now who knows anything about Lars Hanson and where is Lillian Gish? While...well, if we had had sense enough to see what the girl had we wouldn't have been working in the publicity department."

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