Greta Garbo

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Scott Lord Silent Film: Greta Garbo In The Joyless Street (G.W. Pabst, 1...



In The Film Till Now, a survey off world cinema, Paul Rotha writes, “It is impossible to witness the showing a Film by Pabst without marveling at his unerring choice of camera angle for the expression of mood or his employment of the moving camera to heighten action.” Notwithstanding he describes the “tempestuous and badly received” “The Joyless Street” as being only the second film made by the director and that the directors poularity as only having increased later. “With unerring psychology by which he caused the smallest actions of his characters to convey meaning. Pabst brought to his picture moments of searing pain, of mental anquish, of clear unblemished beauty. His extreme powers of truthfulness, of understanding, of reality, of the virtual meaning of hunger, love, lust and greed rendered this extraordinary film convincing.” Rotha noted the collaboration of actress Greta Garbo with the director Pabst. “Mention has been made of Greta Garbo in the film, for it is by this that one theorizes on her beauty and ability. In Hollywood this splendid woman has been wantonly distorted into the symbol of eroticism. But Greta Garbo, by reason of her sympathetic understanding of Pabst, brought a quality of loveliness into her playing as the professor’s eldest daughter. Her frail beauty, cold as ann ice flower warmed by the sun, stood secure in the starving city of Vienna, untouched by the vice and lust that dwelt in the dark Street.”
The script to the film was based on a novel by Hugo Bettauer that only a year earlier had been serialized in a newspaper in Vienna. The length of the film is listed as five reels, but apparently screened with extensive censorship cuts in a version considerably shorter than the modern restored version and in American versions which edited out the character portrayed by Asta Nielsen.

Actress Greta Garbo came directly to America without filming in Sweden after working with G.W. Pabst, and had in fact been working on a Film with Mauritz Stiller before having been given her role in “The Joyless Street”. The Private Life of Greta Garbo, published in 1931 by Rilla Page Palmborg at a time when the world didn’t know how private the life of Greta Garbo would later become, gives an account of Mauritz Stiller, Greta Garbo and Einar Hanson being in Constantinople to film the first movie ever made there. After delays in completing the script, it had finally been finished and Stiller had started to direct when its financing had abruptly been discontinued and Stiller’s telegrams had gone unanswered. “In a few days, Mr.Stiller returned with the sad news that the backers of the picture had gone broke. There was nothing to do but disband and go home. But Mr. Stiller had plans for another picture that he wanted to make in Berlin. While she was waiting...Mr. Stiller got her a part in ‘The Street of Sorrow’...During this time, Louis B. Mayer, production head of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios in Hollywood was making a trip through Europe on the lookout for new talent. The night he saw ‘Gosta Berlings Saga’ he saw photography and new directorial tricks that had never been done before.He wanted to see the genius who directed the fine picture.”
Danish Silent Film Star Asta Nielsen remained in Berlin to film similar social dramas about the decadence, or downfall, of society, among them “Tragedy of the Street” (Rahn, 1927) and “The Vice of Humanity” (Meinhart, 1927) . At first glance, the films are connected to “The Joyless Street” by belonging to The New Objectivity, which depicted the cities of Germany realistically as being in post-War poverty. During 1925, already famous for her portrayal of “Hamlet”, Asta Nielsen played the title role of Hedda Gabler in a film adapted and directed by Frank Eckstein and starred in the film “The Living Buddhas” under the direction of Paul Wegner. Only five minutes of the original footage of the film now survive, adding the film to the many now lost films of the silent era.


Greta Garbo and Mauritz Stiller

Greta Garbo

Monday, December 2, 2019

Greta Garbo in The Single Standard (1929, Marsh)

John Bainbridge gives an account of Greta Garbo having returned from Sweden in which the studio and public had expected her to arrive in Los Angeles and her instead having gotten off the train early to rendezvois with John Gilbert. "He had thought that things would turn out as the do in the movies, with the screen's two great lovers united in holy matrimony...According to Gilbert, Garbo had told him, 'You are a very foolish boy, Yacky. You quarrel with me for nothing. I must do my way. But we need not part.' It was on location of the film The Single Standard that Greta Garbo had learned of the marriage of John Gilbert to Ina Claire, "an event that came as a considerable suprise to the entire movie colony" (Bainbridge). His account includes a reporter finding Garbo on the set between two scenes and his showing her the headline, "'Thank you', she said. The reporter began pressing her with questions about her reaction to the news. 'I hope Mr. Gilbert will be very happy,' she said, and walked away." Picture Play magazine reviewed The Single Standard with, "One of the most brilliantly searching moments of acting ever seen in my fifteen years' of observation of the screen occurs in The Single Standard. It is furnished by Greta Garbo. She washes her hands, then washes her hair...Only she could make the story matter, or give it even ephemeral conviction."
It seems apparent that M.G.M. Had avoided the publicity of full page magazine advertisements for the Greta Garbo film The Single Standard and preferred using full page advertisements advertisizing the studio and its vast array of stars, mostly in a more stars in the firmament fashion, one page in 1929 reading It's Just the Beginning of MGM's Deluge of Dialouge Delights and Metro Goldwyn Mayer Your Rock of Gilbralter. It was a full page age in which the photo caption beneath Greta Garboread,"Gorgeous Greta in The Kiss with Conrad Nagel, Greater by far than The Single Standard." This may have in fact been impelled by the quickly advancing coming of sound film, if at all by the fickle contacts of Garbo or Gilbert. During 1929, Exhibito's Herlad and Motion Pictur World listed The Single Standard in a paragraph of films designated as Synchronized Pictures with Sound Effects as differentiated with those listed as Pictures With Talking sequences or Entirely of Dialouge. An advertisement during 1929 in Exhibitor's Herald merely read M.G.M The Important Company while listing the actors and actresses only by name with the working title of their current production, their frequently being instances that the titles would be changed later. With the name of the company was merely the acknowledgement of Lon Chaney in While the City Sleeps, John Gilbert in The Devil's Mask, and Greta Garbo in The Single Standard. Fim Daily of 1929 appealed to exhibitors and its moviegoing readers before providing a synopsis of the film. "Garbo splendid and spends this in for big dough. Story trite and trashy. Greta deserves better." it concluded, "It sounds like a lot of blah in print. That's exactly what it is. Garbo is too fine to waste on such stuff."

Hollywood Filmograph reviewed Greta Garbo in The Single Standard during 1929, "Adele Rogers St. John takes a sort of languid jolt at social conventions in her Single Standard, using Greta Garbo and Nils Asther to propound the doctrine. The theme appears to have been built rather than created and should hardly carry far in the external fitness of things...The Garbo fans will surely like her in this new role- a role in which she shows a little more fervor (not of the bent back kind) than usual...The Single Standard should not be a tornado at the box office." Motion Picture News added, "the story by Adela St John Rogers is highly sophisticated and in the main only suited for the big city houses; in the smaller towns it will appeal to the younger generation but the elder will undoubtedly frown on its altogether too free an exposition of sex will the heroine maintaining the right that a single standard of conduct applies to women as well as men and proceeding to put her theory into effect....Greta Garbo appears a little too old to be the typical flapper that would tackle a sex problem of this sort in the earlier positions of picture." Picture Play Magazine waited until 1930, "Brilliant acting by Greta Garbo although the story is not an inspiration. Arden Stuart attempts to live her own life freely, but conventional mother love dispels her theories."
     "The girls go into long trousers. For the sea scenes of 'The Single Standard', Greta Garbo wore flannel trousers with a plain, tuck in sweater and sea going canvas shoes."  Picture Play magazine in 1929 ran the caption "Only self-expression draws Greta Garbo, for she is indifferent to fame and to the luxury that comes with stardom." In regard to her being versatile, it added yet another photo caption,"Greta Garbo portrays the torments of love, and little else."
Photoplay Magazine in 1929 published an account of Nils Asther's performance in "The Single Standard". It ran, "Nils Asther measures up to the requirements of a Garbo lover. Greta gives a splendid interpretation of the woman of today at war with herself." The publication that year whispered that "Anna Chrisitie" would be Greta Garbo's first sound film, but that Garbo would still be making "The Kiss" first and that Lon Chaney was then still waiting for a dialogue director, it claiming that sound film had stopped the career of Nils Asther, it praised the voice of Ronald Colman in the film "Bulldog Drummond".
     In an article for Screenland Magazine during 1931, journalist Paul Hawkins promised a more accurate portrait of Greta Garbogleaned from interviews of actors and directors rather than movie critics. It was a technique used less successfully by biographer John Bainbridge, to give Bainbridge credit, although the earlier Hawkins in one brief article uses a variety of interviews without employing anonymous sources. Screenland quoted actor Johnny Mack Brown, " 'Gee, she's a marvelous gift', sighed Johnny Mack Brown. 'I worked with Miss Garbo in "A Woman of Affairs" and "The Single Standard" and I'll never forget what a grand person she is...I worked hard, all right, but I never before or since enjoyed working hard as did in my two pictures with Greta...Miss Garbo is so conscientious that she inspires the best that is in her co-workers,,,,She was very active between shots on the set of "The Single Standard". We tossed the medicine ball around and chatted like school kids.' "


Greta Garbo in Wild Orchids (Sidney Franklin, 1929)



Motion Picture News during 1929 quietly reported, "Clarence Brown will direct Greta Garbo in Heat for M. G.M.", later that month it adding, "Greta Garbo...has just completed The Divine Woman and will soon begin working on a new starring vehicle tentatively titled Heat adapted from an original story by John Colton. Richard Corliss has written, "Wild Orchids is a gorgeous excersize, with soft-focus sunstars glistening off the the actors' silhouettes, and countless tracking shots that give the impression of being an elegant if impotent nose-thumb in the face of the more earthbound talkies...and Wild Orchids is full of the frolicsome play of shadows. As Garbo stands indecisively outside Asther's bedroom door, light suddenly spills over her as the door is opened and his shadow crawls up her body; when he reaches her- and reaches for her, the shadow of his cupped hand falling over her breast- she retreats." Picture Play Magazine reviewed the film with, "Greta Garbo in her best role. Rather slow, but impelled by adult emotions." It later intimated that Greta Garbo was being watched, from no matter how far. In "You'd Never Know Them", A.L. Woodbridge claimed, "Greta Garbo is one of the few stars who looks so different in person, she needs no 'prop' disguise." Photoplay Magazine published, "Wild Orchids will do much for Nils Asther. Here is the role that will push the young Swedish actor up closer to stardom." It described the film with, "a story that proves tropical heat melts all conventions. The scene is java- the details are superb and the picture is a riot for audiences." Film Daily began following the film with the entry Asther Being Groomed, which read, "It looks as if Metro-Goldwyn Mayer are grooming Nils Asther to fill the vacancy that might be created by the departure of John Gilbert from the payroll of that organization. Rumor has it that Gilbert will go to United Artists..,Asther has been assigned the lead opposite Greta Garbo in her next picture Heat." A later entry followed reporting Garbo Title Change Again, "Wild Orchids and not Kiss of The East will be final title for Greta Garbo's new picture." It is not entirely marginal that there are accounts that Nils Asther had met Greta Garbo in 1924, at the Dramatiska Teatern and that he had proposed marriage to her, which she apparently declined- the autobiography of Nils Asther, Narrens jag (Fool's Way/The Way of the Jester was published in Swedish posthumously. If, in 1928, Ruth Bieiry was writing about Nils Asther in Photoplay magazine merely to obtain information about the secretive Greta Garbo, she does in fact show him in a favorable light and was genuinely interested in the actor, "Nils Asther, like Greta Garbo, was trained in the small studios of Sweden. He was accustomed to accept acting as an art rather than a short cut to wealth, fortune or position." 
   Rilla Page Palborg, in a biography titled "The Private Life of Greta Garbo" gave an account of meeting Greta Garbo on the set of "Wild Orchids". It soon become apparent that Greta Garbo would only film on a closed set, beyond anyone questioning whose voice distinctive voiceaccompanied the images. "A few days before she was to leave for Stockholm I talked to Greta Garbo. Our appointment on the set of 'Wild Orchids', then in process of production. She was acting a scene with Lewis Stone, who in the picture was her husband...Stealthily, she slipped out of bed, wrapped in a robe about her slender body, and stole from the room. The scene was taken over and over. Finally she came out and sat down beside me on an old couch that was standing on the edge of the set. 'I guess we can have a few minutes before I continue my struggle on that bed', she said wearily. 'It's almost impossible for me to keep my mind on all this. I did not want to make this picture before I went to Sweden. There is not enough enough time. My mind is running about the shops buying clothes and presents for this one and that one. But the studio made me do it.' " Greta Garbo continued the interview after decling anything for warmth, her denying that the she was cold in the M.G.M studio. "Now that I am really going home I can hardly wait to get there. I will be home for Christmas." Garbo apparently made her first reference to filming in sound in the United States, asking the journalist Palmborg if her accent was acceptable with a hopeful enthusiasm. Palmborg noted earlier that several actors had returned to Europe for just that reason, a heavy accent no matter how bilingual. Plamborg continued, "We talked about Lars Hanson and his wife, who had returned to Sweden. Her face saddened when I mentioned I mentioned her sister, who had died a year after Greta's arrival inHollywood. 'It has been hard to believe that she is really gone. When I go home I will find that it's is true."
     Clarence Sinclair Bull photographed the portrait of Nils Asther that appeared in Motion Picture Magazine. After their review of Wild Orchids there was included a page entitled Home is Where the Arts Is. It read, "It is Nils Asther's conviction that inspiration for his work is not so much to be got from constant mingling with other people as from a communion with himself." 
     Film Daily subtitled its review to the film, "Sexy Garbo Film with Strong Feminine Appeal. Finely Done. should Get Dough." It described the film's actors, " Greta Garbo; alluring and capable; Lewis Stone gives a fine performance and Nils Asther's a handsome Shiek. The three practically carry all the action." It went on to the scenario, Exploitation of Garbo's sex appeal." while crediting John Colton as author and Marion Ainslee and Rith Cummings as having written the titles. Photplay also announced, "This is Greta Garbo's last picture before she departed for Sweden" It claimed that the story created by writer John Colton as enacted by Garbo in Wild Orchids had previously been considered for Lillian Gish. motion Picture Magazpine listed the film as Synchronized (Sound) upon its release while lending it. Recommendation, "Lewis Stone gives his always distinguished performance. And Nils is an actor, and- but see Wild Orchids. To end 1928, Film Daily reported, Garbo Re-Signed, claiming that she had signed a new contract with M.G.M, one that would allow her to go on. vacation before going into effect and speculated with a fair amount of certainty that her first picture on her return would be an adaptation of a novel written by Elinor Glyn. John Bainbridge writes,"When she finished her current film, though, she was coming home for Christmas. Stiller, excited by this piece of news..." He provides an account of Garbo recieving a telegram from Victor Sjostrom, who had been with Mauritz Stiller the previous evening, announcing Stiller having passed away, an unnamed source describing that while on the set, her composure registered and became quiet for a brief moment and that she then continued the scene. "Lars Hanson, who spent untold hours with them in Sweden and in Hollywood, is of the opinion that there existed between them a bond of mutual affection, respect and dependency, but never the normal ties of love."
     Among the several advertisements published by M.G.M Studios which advertised the studio and included the film was on placed in Motion Picture News that reintroduced Greta Garbo. "The most talked about star in pictures! 'Woman in Affairs' built her fame bigger than ever. Next 'Wild Orchids' and it's a throbbing gold-getter." Typical of the studio advertising itself, John Gilbert, Lon Chaney, Norma Shearer and Roman Novorro were included in the multi-page ads, "John Gilbert follows with 'Desert Night'. What a star! They all wanted him! The Big Ones stay with M.G.M."
Well into 1932, as was typical with the fan magazines of the early sound period, Movie Classic provided one of the many published retrospectives, biographies or timelines of the career of Greta Garbo and her silent film, building up the glamour aspect of her having been the enigmatic Swedish Sphinx, which included a look at The Mysterious Lady, "still another leading man, Conrad Nagel. Being married, he is safe from Greta Garbo." The magazine overlooked the marriage of Lars Hanosn to Karin Molander paragraphs earlier, "(Garbo) hailed in the title role of The Divine Woman with Lars Hanson as leading man. Romance with Lars Hanson rumored." If actress Greta Garbo remained eternally silent on the rumor of an affair with Hanson, it would not have seemed out of place, as by the time it had gone to print, Lars Hanson and Victor Sjostrom had both returned to their native country Sweden with their wives. Journalist Harriet Parsons of Modern Screen Magazine looked at the availability of Greta Garbo during 1931. "After her split with Gilbert, Garbo used to see Nils occasionally. They were countrymen and shared in common a moodiness and a love of solitude...There was never more than a casual friendship between them...Nils has since married the woman he loves." While describing the personal life between Greta Garbo and Niks Asther, Parson introduced Sorenson, a blond young Swede that was dating Garbo while in the United States, and "was in love with Garbo. But Garbo wasn't in love with him." She "liked him immensely. Liked not loved." Sorenson returned to Sweden when his pass port had expired.
     As Film Daily scurried for the latest information on the three tone technicolor process and the wiring of movie theaters for sound, Movie Makers making reviewed the cinematography of "Wild Orchids", "The picture opens with a skillful cinematic representation of the confusion and excitement at the departure of a steamer...scenes of the dock and boat dissolve into each other and a moving camera follows the leads...the emphasis on neutral colors helps convey...although there are very few shots with definite photographic contrasts."
     It would appear that during 1929 Greta Garbo was included into what could be considered either the hard cover or the textbooks of that year, but only due to an author writing in a flurry; Hands of Hollywood was printed by Mary Eunice McCarthy and the Photoplay Research Bureau with the subtitle Copyright Applied For as the world waited for Greta Garbo and Lon Chaney to speak. After a brief chapter on The Talers, it discussed The Future of Pictures by paraphrasing the view of Irving  Thalberg, "He also announces that Greta Garbo and Nils Asther, both possessing decided foreign accents, have been resigned by his company under long term contracts. he says that a producer is foolish to release great public favorites in which he has invested millions of dollars for advertising and exploitation and to replace them with comparatively unknown stage players merely because of their trained voice...Greta Garbo's latest picture, "Wild Orchids" (silent) is making a tremendous amount of money and has played Broadway for two splendid weeks." Earlier in the volume, in a section that covered Continuity Writers the author had mentioned the film in regard to the qualifications and duties of writers of adaptations and the knowledge of censorship and their translating to the screen novels or plays that otherwise would be censored, A Woman of Affairs having been milder than its counterpart The Green Hat.
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Greta Garbo in The Temptress




Greta Garbo as continuance of Vamp


Author Roger Manvell, in his volume The Film and the Public notes that after World War I, the genres that were already in place began to take a new turn with the new decade and that the star system that had emerged with silent film began to look for different interests to coincide with the new modernity. He writes, "the vamp, the siren, and even the shimmering courtesan played by Marlene Deitrich seemed dated, if not a little absurd. No great star has risen to take the place of Garbo and inherit her indisputable and hypnotic hold upon her world audiences." Manvell reinforces his impression, "The twenties became a wild period in filmmaking and themes of marital infidelity and liscence of all kinds were again carried to the heights of a new absurdity with titles like 'Temptation', 'Passion Flame', 'Flaming Youth' and 'La,La,Lucille'. The glamor star was in real demand and names like Pola Negri, Norma Shearer and Greta Garbo began to be well known."
While waiting for the next film to be made by Greta Garbo, Photoplay magazine during 1926 printed, "Yet an automobile almost kept Greta from Metro. Mayer had seen Miss Garbo's work in a foreign made film, The Atonement of Gosta Berling. THe picture is incidentally directed by Mauritz Stiller who is directing the second Garbo opus and it it considered an artistic gem, but aositive flop as so far as American audiences are concerned. For that reason it probably will never be released here." In actuality films from Svenska Bio were generally released years after they had been made in Sweden; the article continued to elaborate that Greta Garbo knew that movie stars were provided with limousines whereas Mayer would not include one in her contract! insisting that they were bought by the stars themselves. Having related the disappointment on the part of Greta Garbo and Mauritz Stiller when Stiller had not be asked to direct Greta Garbo in The Torrent, one that would have returned Garbo to Sweden had it not been for Stiller's encouragement, biographer John Bainbridge relates Stiller's optimism when assigned her second film, The Temptress. In Sweden it had been the reverse where Garbo had to audition for Stiller, a more than well known director who had already directed Lars Hanson in Erotikon, a film Greta Garbo had seen in theaters. "Now that he had been given a chance to direct his protegee his dark mood had disappeared. He was full of excitement and enthusiasm. 'At last,' he topld Lars Hanson, 'They'll see what Greta can do.'" Stiller wanted to open the film with a discovery shot, or revelatory shot, that dollyed back, pulled back, to show the wider context of the scene while establishing it location. "Telling Hanson of his plans, Stiller confidently predicted, 'We'll show them a thing or two.'" Upon arriving on the set, in a studio system that in regard to constructing the photoplay, had evolved from Griffith and Ince, Stiller was a prefigurement of the auteur, expressing his bewilderment that there would be an assistant director, an assistant producer, a script girl and other members of the film crew present on the set and attempting to dismiss them, "All I need is a camera and actors." The author continues, " 'They brought me here to direct because they liked my methods.' he told Hanson. 'Instead they try to teach me to direct.'" Lars Hanson explained further "Stiller tied to work in Hollywood the same way he worked in Sweden...He had his own particular way of making a picture. He shot scenes as he wished, not necessarily in sequence and not necessarily the ones he intended to use. He liked to shoot everything, and then make the film he wanted to by cutting. He could never stick to a schedule." Both John Bainbridge and Richard Corliss relay that there were stories of Stiller confronting a language barrier while instructing cameraman and that he would begin with "Stop" when he wanted to say "places, roll them, or action" and that he had interchanged "Go" with "Cut or Print" when the scene was to conclude, although the present author is uncertain as to whether it was included specificlly in the published reminiscenes of actors that often made their way into fan magazines or what their source may have been. Before the release of the film, Motion Picture Magazine attested to the experience and craftsmanship of Maurtiz Stiller as a film director by publishing a photograph from the set of the film which was captioned, "The dancing scenes of Greta Garbo and Antonio Moreno in The Temptress, which Mauritz Stiller is directing in this photograph, were filmed by a camera attached to a moving platform which followed them about the floor." If this were Stiller's only contribution to, or influence upon classical narrative and the temporal-spatial relationships of camera to subject, it would be notable, excepting that Stiller had previously filmed in Sweden Nd built the traditions of filmmaking there as one of its pioneers under Charles Magnusson. The Hollywood system that had evolved from Griffith and Ince had placed Stiller and Clarence Brown as directors that created camerawork and technique. 
Within a fortnight, two events occurred which seemed not to have shaken the on-screen Greta Garbo personna, or the need to create an off-screen Garbo character, as though they went unnoticed as more mystery around the recluse seemed to build. Biographer John Bainbridge writes of her sister Alva's passing away during the early filming of The Temptress, "As soon as Garbo informed Stiller of the tragic news, he dismissed the cast and took her home." Apparently Garbo was present when Stiller was dismissed and replaced, after ten days of shooting, as the film's director. She had been waiting outside the building during the conference, pacing the sidewalk. "Stiller wappp s laid low with despondency and he was also ailing physically. As he sat on his terrace brooding, Garbo went about propping him up with pillows," Bainbridge records, "and doing what she could to cheer him up." According to Bainbridge, "when Stiller saw Thalberg after the premiere he delivered an invective about Garbo, as well as an excellant script, having been ruined by him." Motion Picture Magazine chronicled the event as nearly expected, "Stiller has sufferred from the fate that overcomes most foreign directors shen they come to Hollywood. He was unable to grasp an understanding of the business and technical end of making a motion picture in an American studio." In one of the many posthumous accounts of the career of Mauritz Stiller that appeared linking him to Greta Garbo, Ruth Biery intimated during 1932 that Stiller was removed from The Temptress because of an objection made by Antonio Moreno, the director apparently having insisted that the actor wear a pompadour to compensate fro Garbo's having had been being the taller of the two. Greta Garbo described to Photoplay Magazine her filming in The Temptress under the direction of Fred Niblo, "I could not undeIrstand the English directions. Week in, week out from seven untill six. Six months on the story. More than twenty costumes to try on over and over. That is why I donot care about clothes. There are so many clothes in every picture, I can not think of them when I am away from a picture. I never missed a day. I was never late for work." Photoplay inserted a paragraph on Greta Garbo written in bold type into one of its backpages during 1927, "Fred Niblo, who had directed the alabaster and ivory Garbo was making the usual introductory speeches. Remarking on the beauty of Greta's performance, he further said that it was most difficult to direct her for she spoke not one word of English. 'Do you?' queried Niblo turning to her where the Swedish lorelei sat. 'No', answered Greta slowly, perfectly, 'I do not speak one word of English.'" Irregardless of Greta Garbo having been reluctant to work with Monta Bell and preferring to remain under the wing of Mauritz Stiller, a look independent of that to the 1927 Motion Picture New Booking Guide and Studio Directory draws a contrast between the directors Monta Bell and Fred Niblo, the former depicted in biographical sketches as merely a novice, the latter as experienced as to where he would soon become head of the studio, Monta Bell, Metro Goldwyn Mayer director, is comparatively a newcomer to the motion picture industry." Where Bell is noted as having began with Chaplin, Niblo is noted as having begun with Thomss Ince and for his directing his wife, Enid Bennett, "Motion Picture Stars are not the only ones to claim interesting claim to backgrounds."
Film Daily during 1926 included a column of what it considered to be pertinent Newspaper Opninions, or newspaper clippings, on recently released films; these touted the "seductive charm of languid eyed Elena, the "gorgeous beauty" Greta Garbo, "who besides wearing stunning clothes can also act" and a Garbo that "vitalizes the name part of this picture." Motion Picture News during 1926 also carried a similar section entitled Newspaper Opinions on New Pictures, in which it quoted the exact same reviews, where, "Greta Garbo is a delight for the eye", "Greta Garbo makes every move a picture" and although they praised the newcomer Garbo in General a mild outlook was taken of her vamping, or being illicit as a mysterious foreign road to perdition, in the press quotes of that year. The Exceptional Photoplays department of National Board of Review Magazine credited William Daniels and Gaetano Gardino as having been the photographers of the film The Temptress, "The Temptress brings Greta Garbo to the attention of American audiences as an actress of note and unusual beauty...She is not half a minute on the screen before you know her as an artist,pliable and lively. This big starring vehicle gives her the ample opportunity to prove her versatility...The first Paris sequence is the equal in tonal quality and feeling of anything that has been done in films. It is true with strong character drawing. Miss Garbo makes Elena a breathing person." Motion Picture Magazine featured a still from on the set of the film captioned, "Fred Niblo insists on realism...and this scene of Tony Moreno and Greta Garbo in The Temptress promises to provide a thrill when it reaches the scene. Note the angle of the camera."
Bainbridge reviewed the film by writing, "Despite its florid subtitles and spurious plot, The Temptress was another distinct triumph for Garbo." Educational Screen Magazine, during a month in which it had reviewed the film Bardleys the Magnificient also looked at the film, "Most of this can be dismissed as perfectly ordinary.It is merely a tale of a siren who couldn't help attracting men, with an appended list of the fatalities...Miss Garbo as. Woman of the streets demonstrates a remarkable dramatic ability."               Photoplay reviewed the performance of Greta Garbo in the film briefly, "The Ibanez story is forgiven and forgotten when Greta Garbo is in the cast. Greta is a show in herself." Photoplay reiterated its sentiment, "While this Belasco-Ibanez story is crammed full of melodramatic action-much of it preposterous- Greta Garbo makes the proceedings not only believable, but compelling. Such a role strains at the probabilities, but Miss Garbo makes Elena highly effective. She is beautiful, she flashes and scintillates with singular appeal...'The Temptress' is all Garbo. Nothing else matters."
There is a report that M.G.M purchased the talking rights to both The Torrent and The Temptress in 1932. Bent Forslund adds,"Her first two films, The Torrent and The Temptress, both in 1926, were insignificant, but showed that she had appeal. The audience liked her." The screenplays to the first two films in which Greta Garbo had appeared, The Torrent and the Temptress (nine reels) both had been adaptations of the novels of Vincente Belasvo Ibanez, their having been titled Among the Orange Trees and The Earth Belongs to Everyone, respectively. When interviewed by Motion Picture Magazine, novelist Vincente Belasco Ibanez was quoted as having said, "The future of the camera is limitless. Now it is going ahead very fast. There is no standard in the cinema. Why do the artists not get together and set up standards?"
The novels written by Vincente Belasco Ibanez also include "The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse", filmed after "Blood and Sand" in 1921, "Enemies of Women" (Crosland 1923), starring Alma Rubens, and the film "Marie Nostrum" filmed in 1926 by Rex Ingram. The lost film "Circe, the Enchantress" (Robert Z. Leonard, 1924) featured a screenplay written by Ibanez specifically for the actress Mae Murray.

     Motion Picture Magazine reviewed the film by noting, "It must be admitted that The Temptress is a bore. It would seem to be a story of a woman whom all men love and whose curious fate is to destroy all men who love her- but not through her own will but as an inevitable consequence of her fatal lure...She at length atones by destroying herself to save the one man she really loves...Greta Garbo as the unhappy temptress, has a role which required of her precisely nothing...Antonio Moreno's role calls for a little more." The magazine also published photo of Greta Garbo "vamping" before the film's release, captioned, "Judging from the oval photographs above, The Temptress is well named. Although Greta Garbo has only been on the American screen for a short time, she enjoys quite a vogue."
Motion Picture News included among the films Production Highlight the "atmosphere, settings and fine editing" Its Exploitation Angles included "Play up Greta Garbo and Antonio Moreno and mention others of fine cast." Its review of the film read, "It may be defined as a tragic melodrama, one which is treated intellectually and with considerable imagination...Fred Niblo demonstrates again that he can be trusted to breathe in this type of I'm story- one which is similar in outline to Ibanez's other story creation Blood and Sand...Moreover, it is splendidly cast with Greta Garbo as the sinuous siren and Antonio Moreno as her Spanish lover." The Over the Teacups section of Picture Play magazine during 1926 quoted someone named Fanny the Fan, who had attended a "cat party" given by screenwriter France's Marion. Among the guests that night were Lillian Gish, Vilma Banky, Anna Q. Nilsson, Patsy Ruth Miller, Lilla Lee and Kathleen Key.  Marion that night screened a new Norma Talmadge film in her small theater. During the article, Fanny related having previously met Greta Garbo, who was "fascinating to look at." (Picture Play) "Kathleen Key is working in The Temptress with her and she says that it is an inspiration to watch her. Incidentally, Kath got her role in that because of her expressive, big eyes. Mr. Stiller, the Swedish director that is making the picture asked for the girl with the biggest eyes, and Kath got the part without any argument."

Scott Lord Silent Film: Greta Garbo in Torrent ( Bell, 1926)

Greta Garbo
Greta Garbo

Greta Garbo

Greta Garbo

Greta Garbo

Sven Gustafson screenwriter, Europa 1942-1948

     While Alva, apart from appearing as an extra with sister Greta for the Swedish Silent film director John Brunius, only made one screen appearance, that of a part in the film "Two Kings" ("Tva Kongungar", Elis Ellis,1925), the brother of actress Alva Gustafson and actress Greta Garbo, Sven Gustafson, infrequently billed as Sven Garbo, although the elder of the three siblings, went on to become a screenwriter after his brief foray into acting. It would usually seem reasonable to say that both Greta Garbo and brother Sven retired during the same period in light of Sven Gustafson having later visited the United States before his death if it were not for Greta Garbo having at that time having completely become a recluse to the public, only contemplating a return to making films.
     The wife of Sven Gustafson, Emy Owandner, made only one screen appearance, that of a role in the film "Sun Over Klara" ("Sol over Klara"), directed by Emil A. Lingheim and written by Erik Lundegard, which lists her role as uncredited. The Swedish Film Institute, rather lists her as appearing in two earlier comedies for Europa, one in which she appeared with Sven Gustafson.
     Swedish director Gustaf Edgren co-wrote the screenplay to the 1929 film "Kongstjorda Svensson" in which Sven Garbo appeared with actresses Brita Appelgren and Karen Gillberg. The film was photographed by Hugo Edlund.
     Edvin Adolphson had directed "When Roses Bloom" ("Na rosorna sla ut"), starring Sven Garbo during 1930. The film was scripted by Gosta Stevens and also stars Karin Swanstrom, Margita Alven, and Anna-Lisa Baude. Else Marie Hansen was given her first appearance on screen in with the film. Greta Garbo visited her brother, Sven Gustafson, while in Stockholm. The Private Life of Greta Garbo, published in Photoplay Magazine during 1930 is, much like the biography of Greta Garbo penned by Norman Zierold, an enjoyable, if not charming read; it includes a brief mention of Sven Garbo, "At one time Miss Garbo's brother, Sven, who has been quite successful abroad both on stage and screen, wanted to come to Hollywood. He even sent screen tests of himself to Metro-Goldwyn Mayer." Rilla Page PalMborg again mentioned that Sven Garbo had sent screen tests of himself to M.G.M the following year when publishing the biography The Private Life of Greta Garbo in book form during 1931. While giving an account of Garbo's activities while filming the silent film "The Kiss" it relies heavily on quotes of her housekeeper-valet Gustaf, according to whom she kept a large portrait of her brother in her living room, arranged upright on a table. "Garbo was all upset the day she received a letter from her brother saying that the motion picture company for whom he was working wanted to change his name to Garbo. She said that she made the name of Garbo herself, that it was her name and there should be no one else using it. She called her brother not to allow the motion picture company to use it....but he answered that it was too late."
     To complement whispers that Sven Gustafson would have like to film in America, when in actuality it was Greta Garbo that travelled between the two countries, Screenland Magazine related," Everyone says there is only one Garbo in pictures, but the Swedish cyclone's brother Sven has been signed to Paramount for talkies. Sven Garbo is tall and handsome and reported to be a good bet for pictures." Yet, without dispelling this, Photoplay Magazine during 1931 translated the title of Edvin Adolphson's film "Na Rosarna Sla Ut" as "Hole in the Wall" and listed it as being produced by Paramount. Photoplay later added,"Sven Gustafsson, brother of Gret Garbo, makes his American debut in it. He's a tall, limp, black-haired boy with a moustache and doesn't beT the faintest resemblance to his famous sister. And he's a punk actor, if this is a sample. The picture tells a light, chatty love story. There's one good actor in the troupe- an ugly gentleman named Uno Henning." Inches above a synopsis of the Greta Garbo film "Inspiration", Photoplay magazine again looked at the film in brief, "Swedish talkie brings us Sven Gustaffson, Garbo's brother, but nothing like his famous sister. Light and chatty love story."

Gustaf Molander

Silent Film Greta Garbo

Greta Garbo and Mauritz Stiller

Silent Film Greta Garbo

Greta Garbo

Back to top: Sven Garbo

Remade by Greta Garbo: Camille



Studio manager of Rasunda was relegated to Vilhelm Bryde during 1923. Author Forsyth Hardy Gaines an account, "His influence was most clearly seen in 'Damen med Kamelioarna', a static, theatrical adaptation of the Camille theme, directed by Olof Molander. The film derived some distinction from the delicately composed interiors...a reversion to a theatrical style of filmmaking quite foreign to the Sjostrom-Stiller."

For those familiar with the history of Danish Silent Film Lady of the Camellias, (Kameliadamen, Camille) adapted from the novel by Dumas, was filmed by Viggo Larsen, who starred in front of the camera as well as creating from behind it, as he was often won't to do, the film also starring Oda Alstrup, Robert Storm Petersen and Helga Tonnesen. It was produced by Nordisk Film and Ole Olsen and it's cinematographer was Axel Graatkjaer Sorensen.


The Divine Bernhardt that was immortalized as a model for Alphonse Mucha exists, the plays that Louis Mercanton adapted for the screen, Jeanne Dore (1915, three reels), starring Madame Tissot with actress Sarah Bernhardt and shown in the United States by Bluebird Photoplays, and Adrienne Lecouvveur (1913, two/three reels), do not, and belong to the province of Film Preservation, if not Lost Films, Found Magazines, a vital part of From Stage to Screen, the transition of the proscenium arc to visual planes achieved by film editing and composition having been relegated to desuetude. By all accounts there still is a copy of Sarah Bernhardt performing Camille on film.

Camille (J. Gordon Edwards, 1917) starring Theda Bara is, like The Divine Woman (Victor Seastrom), a lost silent film, there being no surviving copies of it. Motography not I coincidentally revealed, "Theda Bara in a sumptuous picturization of Camille is the latest announcement of William Fox to the public...Theda Bara as the unhappy Parisian girl who sacrifices herself on the altar of convention, has surpassed all her previous work. This production...Parisian life is followed in every detail so that the atmosphere of the story fits admirably with the acting in it." Surepetitiously, Motion Picture News used the exact same wording, it concluding with, The tears it caused were genuine and the emotions it stirred were deep."

Most significant may be that the script to Poor Violetta (Arme Violetta, 1920) was written by Hans Kraly, who later emigrated to Hollywood; directed by Paul L. Stein, it was released by Paramount as The Red Peacock, with the alternate title Camille, purportedly only loosely an adaptation of the novel by Dumas. The film is thought to be lost, with no surviving copies.  in her autobiography Memories of a Star, actress Pola Negri describes filming in Europe, "Even before Hemmingway and Fitzgerald made The Lost Generation internationally famous, it was a city intent on losing itself. Jazz was beginning to become a rage in all the little chic clubs.... When production began on Camille, I was ready for it. Nightlife had served its purpose. The mixture of wild gaiety and sense of loss which had been so much part of the last few weeks gave me fresh insights into the character I was to portray. Certainly, the doomed tubercular Marguerite Gautier would not have felt out of place in Berlin at the dawn of the twenties. My sojourn among those people who lived on the opposite side of the clock had been a useful and pleasant interlude, but it was now over." Negri, who would leave for Warsaw after filming Camille had been writing about a city that would soon embrace Expressionism and where Asta Nielsen that year had been filming an adaption of Hamlet as a Silent Film.
In the United States The Film Daily during 1922 reviewed the film by claiming it had "No Visible Drawing Power in this Except for Sensation".  While giving a brief synopsis it wrote, "as for the story, it is certain to offend the decency of some and practically everyone with any sense of refinement. There isn't anything very tasteful or entertaining in this depiction of a series of liaisons even though you can hardly blame the girl for running away from her drunken step father...Another matter which you will do well to consider in connection with this picture is the type of patron you cater to." Their sentiment was echoed by Exhibitor's Herald magazine, who saw Pola Ngeri in the film as depicting a woman who was " that of the tennis-ball tossed lightly from one gentleman's racquet to another" to which it appended, " This is made abroad and their standards are not ours."


Using a still where the two lovers were in embrace on a couch, reminiscent of John Gilbert and Greta Garboin Flesh and the Devil, captioned with "Armand pours out his love to the adored Camille, Picture Play magazine during 1927 introduced the film starring Norma Talmadge and Gilbert Roland as "the latest screen version of the Dumas' masterpiece." MPotion Picture magazine noted that it was a film in which Norma Talmadge would wear her hair bobbed, the studio having reported to the magazine that it would be an adaptation located in the then present day Paris of Gerturde Stien, Fitzgerald and Hemmingway and that the cast of the film would also include Lilyan Tashman. Photoplay reviewed the film with,"Norma Talmadge shifted the background to the present day. This change seems to have affected the story itself but slightly. 'Camille has one fault. it is too long...Rather actory but worth IT. Super-sexy stuff this." Amateur Movie Makers magazine looked at Niblo's camerawork during 1927, noting that the film as having a Titleless Start. "Eliminating the usual series of opening titles, 'Camille' opens with a series of swift dissolves which move from the general to the specific, from a shot down to a mass of moving umbrellas, to a salient bit of portraiture of the auctioneer hawking Camille's effects."


The 1915 screen version of Camille was scripted by Frances Marion. the five reel film starred Clara Kimbal Young under the direction of Albert Cappellani.




Greta Garbo John Gilbert



Greta Garbo

Greta Garbo in Love

Greta Garbo photographed

Greta Garbo

Greta Garbo photographed by Ruth Harriet Loiuse







Friday, November 8, 2019

Scott Lord Silent Film: Hotel Imperial (Mauritz Stiller, 1927)



Mauritz Stiller

Scandinavian Silent Film

Lady to Love (Victor Seastrom)



Vilma Banky under the direction of Victor Sjsotrom.



Victor Sjostrom seemed overlooked by a publication dazzled by a starlet, Vilma Banky was exceptionally well received by London film critics. Weekly Kinema Guide acknowledged the difficulty actresses were having transitioning from the silent screen to the sound while admitting that not all actress in the United States were American and that some were European, or "Cosmopolitan". It wrote, "This is the first picture in which Vilma Banky has had an "all talking" part and she can be said to have emerged from what any cosmopolitan film actress must look upon as an ordeal....To all the acknowledged film stars therefore, the coming of the talkies must have been a period of anxiety, that is untill they had done their first full length talking part....Vilma Banky's admirerers, and there are, quite reasonably, many will be relieved to know that she reproduced very well indeed. This was foreshadowed by a few lines spoken in her last picture, but 'A Lady to Love' will show that she has not lost prestige.
     Vilma Banky, in other words, like Greta Garbo, has pulled through."
Sidney Howard had written the play “They Knew What They Wanted” in 1924 and had sent M.G.M. a synopsis, which was eventually given to Victor Sjostrom On his return from Sweden to Hollywood in 1929. Sjostrom began filming in November of that year and the film premiered in February of the next. Bo Florin observes that it was seen by Bengt Forslund that the filming was hurried for a work of that nature, that it “ had been conceived of all of a sudden, that the short time lapse between the original idea was probably not ideal as this was Sjostrom’s first sound film” Victor Seastrom left America for Sweden, to again become Victor Sjostrom, two months after the premiere of the film “A Lady to Love”. In Sweden he acted, and only acted, starring in two films directed by Ingmar Bergman, one of them having been the film “Wild Strawberries”. His daughter, Guge Lagerwall, married to an actor, briefly appeared in Swedish films.

Victor Sjostrom subsequently filmed the sound film "Under the Red Robe", a remake of a silent filmed in the United States.



Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Scott Lord Silent Film: The Deluge (Vitagraph, 1911)

Greta Garbo in The Torrent



A suitable story for director Mauritz Stiller, famous Swedish director who just began work under M.G.M. contract is now being sought and will be announced at an early date. Greta Garbo, who has also just arrived in America will be assigned a suitable vehicle sometime this month." -Exhibitor's Trade Review, 1925Greta Garbo

During the summer of 1925, Metro Goldwyn advertised Victor Seastrom's "Tower of Lies" with Norma Shearer and Lon Chaney as "Selma Lagerlof's world prize novel with the outstanding personalities of 'He Who Gets Slapped'". Using the front and inside covers of Moving Picture World Magazine, it also advertised "Bardleys the Magnificient", starring John Gilbert as a "colossal production in full technicolor", "Lights of Old Broadway", starring Marion Davies and directed by Monta Bell, and advertised two Cosmolitan Productions, The Temptress, "backed by intensive national publicity promotions of Cosmopolitan Productions, and "The Torrent"- "with Aileen Pringle in a cast of big names". To readers beginning with the recent biography by Robert Dance, Pringle was "displaced" by Greta Garbo

Author Lucy Fischer, in the paper Greta Garbo and Silent Cinema:The Actress as Art Deco Icon In no way establishes an Art Deco style of filmmaking as opposed to an art nouveau style of painting, although the elements of a modernity, including thematic elements, are certainly present. Fischer sees the film “The Torrent”, essentially a jazz age film and a precursor to the upcoming surprise of precode, as fluctuating between stylistic flourishes. These for Fischer are not inserted inadvertently, but at “heightened moments of the text” and the first “glamour shot” of Greta Garbo “inhabits a modernist space”. It is almost as if the author is implying that the screenwriter worked more closely with the wardrobe department than the scenario department while making her point. It would seem that Fischer is analyzing the shot structure of the film and its camera movement, the photoplay, by changes in what Greta Garbo is wearing rather than by evaluating how the spectator is drawn to the screen by a medium that after art nouveau, Dadaism and ante-bellum needed Art Deco to commercialize in a world apart from Sarah Bernhardt and the poster iconography of Alphonse Mucha. But Fischer brings a point of departure as the subculture of early surrealism lacked popularity in Hollywood- is Art Deco more than set and costume design and is there a corresponding style of acting, if not directing for the “lost generation”?
For a moment, let’s allow our look at Greta Garboin the film be a collection of shots of the new fashions within modernity and transfer theory written about one genre, the Silent Western to another- with the hope of providing a key to her volume on the iconography of Silent Western Film, the content of its mise en scene and typical motifs, author Nanna Verhoeff, in her volume “The West in Early Cinema, before quoting Jacques Derrida,claims to have coined the phrase “archival poetics” as compared and contrasted to other semiotics systems, to narrative poetics or to poetics of gender, much as a “landscape poetics” emerged in the reviews of the silent films of Mauritz Stiller and Victor Sjostrom. The author highlights the content of Western Silent films by searchingly for their common physical elements, which presumably at times include Sjostrom’s masterpieces “The Wind” and at times, owing to its historical context, would not. The author writes, “I am to reflect on the connections between objects, discursive systems within which they can be understood and the cultural life in the present within which such ‘readability’ in terms of poetics’ etymological sense of making. The current interest in hypertextual discursive organization will serve as a heuretical metaphor that will help articulate an archival poetics useful for cultural analysis of early screen culture, in other words screening the past.” Needless to say this alone doesn’t place Greta Garboas an Art Deco figurehead and the volume written by Verhoeff consists of analysis of early silent film independent of the work of Greta Garbo but it places an archival value on the screen prescence of Greta Garbo contingent on the technology of the period and on audience reception that dates genres as having a chronological beginning when they are to emerge- Garbo’s insistence she did not belong to the Vamp iconography. If a dress worn by Garbo, then an article in a time capsule. To see the effect of costume design clearly, one might look at Elizabeth Taylor in the film Cleopatra, where it seems that every cut to a new scene includes Taylor wearing a different gown, adding a aesthetic value to the silence within each scene through numerous visual additions to mine en scene through numerous costume changes.

Greta Garbo arrives from Europe

When refilmed, her hollywood screentest would by filmed by Mauritz Stiller and purportedly spliced into the rushes of Torrent and was then, in turn, seen by Monta Bell, who insisted the script be given to Garbo. Greta Garbo's second screentest had been photographed by Henrik Sartov, who later explained that the earlier test had lacked proper lighting and that a lens he had devised had allowed him to articulate depth while filming her. Cameraman William Daniels had photographed the earlier test. Lillian Gish relates a conversation between her and Sartov where Gish asked him if he could photograph a screentest of Garbo, "Garbo's temperment reflected the rain and gloom of the long, dark Scandinavian winters."
     It skips any personal contact made between its author, Hedda Hopper, and actress Greta Garbo up untill a phone call from Ina Claire during her marriage to John Gilbert when Hopper had been visiting the set of His Glorious Night and, even then, when giving an account of Greta Garbo walking off the set when Arthur Brisbane had stepped on to it, it makes no claim that Hopper had ever spoken to the actress while at contract at M.G.M., but as an autobiography, From Under My Hat, the personal memoir of the events of Hedda Hopper's career in Hollywood, leaves us with a question. Why was Hedda Hopper compelled to include biography about Greta Garbo ? The account Hopper gives is standard and third person, much like the biography provided by John Bainbridge, it seeming to have its origin in the same fan magazines that were prevalent at the time and following their consensus. "In 1926 Lillian Gish," Hopper writes, "brought a Russian cameraman, whose name I've forgotten, to Hollywood from the East. Nobody had seen the work of the Russian. The studio saw some trick slides with which he was said to get effects...He was asked to make tests...So for three days Greta Garbo sat on a high stool while the unknown Russian made tests of her. A director was looking at water scenes to use in his picture 'The Torrent', when accidentally, the test using Garbo were cut in. His producer was sitting beside him. Apologizing nervously, he stopped the projection. 'No, go ahead,' said the director, 'I want to see something.' When they'd been run through once, he called for them to be run again, then jumped up and ran to the front office. 'I want that girl- the one in the tests. I want her for 'The Torrent.'" Hedda Hopper continues her autobiography with scenes from the romance between Garbo and Gilbert which she was also no part of and without personal memory, which is again odd in that the stories belong more properly to fan magazines, for example Photoplay Magazine, which offered a flurry of biography on Stiller and Gilbert between 1932 and 1935, for some reason the fact that Garbo wouldn't grant interviews making her the subject of biographies speculating why she had become a recluse. Hopper in fact calmy writes, "Garbo had no confidantes" at a point when the reader has begun to question when the two women had ever interacted. Under My Hat was published by Hopper during 1952, twenty years after the height of publicity of how the Swedish Sphinx had come to the United States to fall out of love with John Gilbert
      At first Garbo was reluctant to accept a role in the film "The Torrent". Although it was a large role that had been considered for Norma Shearer, whom Bell had directed in the film After Midnight (1921). Mauritz Stiller advised, "It can lead to better parts later." to which Garbo replied, "How can I take direction from someone I don't know?". John Bainbridge writes that in the beginning Garbo spent most of her time with Mauritz Stiller, quoting him as having said, "You will see that something will become of her." It would be ten weeks before the studio would show any marked interest in her, this mostly at the behest of Stiller and in light of his second series of screentests. "She was especially fond of Seastrom's children," Bainbridge writes, "and brought little present to them." Victor Sjostrom's daughter is the Swedish actress Guje Lagerwall. 
     Begnt Forlund notes that the filming of Anna Karenina had at first been thought for actress Lillian Gish, who in Sweden, Greta Garbo had seen the film White Sister. In her autobiography, Gish wrote, "I often saw young Garbo on the set. She was then the protege of the Swedish director Mauritz Stiller. Stiller often left her on my set. He would take her to lunch and then bring her back, and Garbo would sit there watching." John Bainbridge reiterates this while writing on The Torrent, "Stiller did not appear on the set, but every evening he rehearsed Garbo in the next day's scenes, coaching her in every movement and every expression...Stiller delivered Garbo to the studio every morning and called for her every night." He quotes a letter written to Sweden by Stiller, "Greta is starting work for a well-known director and I think she has got an excellant part." Richard Corliss adds, "Though out of her element and seperated from Mauritz Stiller, Garbo gives fine performance, full of feeling and technical precocity. her first Hollywood kiss is one to remember."     Swedish actor Lars Hanson attended the premiere of the film and reflected, "We all thought the picture was a flop and that Garbo was terrible...In our opinion it didn't mean anything." Bainbridge makes the observation that Mauritz Stiller and Victor Seastrom were also at the premiere. He writes, "The picture did perhaps contain a few imperfections, such as Garbo's costumes." As a biographer, Bainbridge is enjoyable to read in one sense, not only for his prose synopsis of the film, but that he plays a guessing game by quoting a Swedish actress who was then in Hollywood without disclosing her name, the reader to wonder if she was in fact Karen Molander, wife of Lars Hanson who journeyed to Hollywood with him. The accuracy of Hollywood reporting during the Twenties, or Jazz Age, on which Bainbridge seems to base his historical references was admittedly referred to by Picture Play magazine and journalist William H. McKegg in Three Sphinxes, which compared Jetta Goudal, Ronald Colman and Greta Garbo, who, as of 1929, were three people that "puzzle Hollywood" It opined, "Of course rumors have been spread bu those who "know". Some say that Garbo was a waitress in one of the open air caf├ęs in the Swedish capital. They add that the poverty and sorrow she underwent made her fearful of life. Only those who have experienced poverty really know hoe cruel human beings can be to one another. some say she was a singer. Who cares?"The subtitle to one section of The Story of Greta Garbo as told to Ruth Biery, published in Photoplay during 1929 reads, "Tempermental of misunderstood". In it Greta Garbo relates the events that led up to her having left the studio for what would only be less than a week, "Then it was for months here before I was to work for Mr. Stiller. I'm r. When it couldn't be arranged, they put me in The Torrent, with Mr. Monta Bell directing. It was very hard work, but I didn't mind that. I was at the studio every morning at seven o'clock and untill six every evening." She goes further explaining that there was a language barrier that would later contribute to Mauritz Stiller being also taken off her next picture, "Mr. Stiller is an artist...he does not understand the American factories. He always made his own pictures in Europe, where he is the master. In our country it is always the small studio." Stiller had in fact written to Sweden to say, "There is nothing here of Europe's culture." It is of note that in regard to Stiller's relationship to the studio, and Thalberg, Lars Hanson has been quoted as having said, "And Stiller, because he could speak hardly any English, wasn't able to explain what he was doing and how to satisfy them.": it was on the set of The Torrent that author Sven-Hugo Borg was introduced to Stiller, who in turn then informed Garbo that he was assigned translator under Monta Bell's direction. In The Private Life of Greta Garbo By Her Most Intimate Friend, Borg recounts that Bell had turned to him and had said of her, "What a voice! If we could only use it." Of the film he notes, "Of course she was constantly with Stiller, spending every possible moment with him; but thought that when the camera's eye was flashed upon her, (that)the picture would decide her fate began, (that) he would not be there terrified her." Borg continued as the interpreter for Greta Garbo untill 1929. 
     Author Richard Corliss remarked upon the performance in the film by Greta Garbo "Though out of her element and separated from Mauritz Stiller, Garbo gives a fine performance. Her first Hollywood kiss is one to remember...There are to be sure moments early in the film when Garbo works too hard with her eyes; overstating emotions rather than expressing them, dropping nuances like anvils, registering filial devotion...but she grows in the role...by the final scenes..she is utterly convincing as an actress and a star." Corliss continues stating that there are flashes of the later Garbo as though she were many-talented and in retrospect it was present but would later develop more fully, "By the end of The Torrent he face seems moPre severely contoured, her eyes more glacially clear, her head lifted upward by the chinstrap of spiritual pride. The phenomena is that of a star creating her own myth within the time-space of a single film." Photoplay magazine quoted Greta Garbo, "Greta Garbo was having her pictures taken by Ruth Harriet Louise. During one of the close up shots her eyes blinked, 'Oh, I'm so sorry, Miss Louise,' Greta apologized, 'But I twinkled.'" The production stills of Greta Garbo during the filming of The Torrent were photographed by Ruth Harriet Louise. Ruth Harriet Louise had also published an early full photograph of Greta Garbo in Motion Picture Classic Magazine during May of 1926. Before photographing Greta Garbo Louise had created her "first published Hollywood image", that of Vilma Banky from the film Dark Angel in the September 1925 issue of Photoplay and during 1926 she contributed a particularly romantic blue-titnted portrait of Pauline Stark and Antonio Moreno to Photoplay from the film Love's Blindness. During 1928 Louise contributed to Screenland Magazine a portrait of Lars Hansen and Lillian Gish, "the lovers in the forthcoming special production The Wind", directed by Victor Sjostrom under the name Victor Seastrom. For those susceptible to the fantasy of Hollywood, it might feel like one of those rare fleeting siI'm at ghtings of Harriet Brown but it in fact that Robert Dance and Bruce Robertson introduce the photographer in their volume Ruth Harriet Louise and Hollywood Glamour Photography. The authors include a photograph of Greta Garbo taken by Ruth Harriet Louise, who had invited her back to her studios for another photo shoot after the filming of The Torrent had come to its completion, late December of 1925. Harriet Brown, now in fact Harriet Brown and company, the owner of the photograph is none other than "senior management and market executive" Scott Reisfield whom, and I quote, "Developed museum exhibit of photographs with the Santa Barbra Museum of Art. The exhibit subsequently was toured to four additional venues. Developed a book published by Rizzoli in conjunction with the museum exhibit." in all honesty, I have not as of yet corresponded with Mr. Reisfield about Greta Garbo, Sven Gustaffson or Guge Lagerwall. 
     The picture of Greta Garbo in a chair seated next to a lion, Garbo photographed outdoors on what at first appears to be a bench and the lion posing with his feet elevated on a log, as it was first published in Motion Picture Magazine during 1926 must have been a publicity test, by a publicity department that may have named her The Swedish Sphinx during the silent era, as it left her not only silent but unidentified, without printing her name; the caption reads, "$10.00 for the best title of this picture."


 





 

     There are twenty three photographs of Greta Garbo taken by the photographer Arnold Genthe in the United States either on July 25, or July 27. Often unseen by the public and for the most part belonging to public domain, the were part of his estate and are presently housed at the library of congress.

     Biographer Norman Zeirold, who used a photograph of Greta Garbo taken by Genthe for the cover of his wonderful volume has written that, "Garbo's plasticity made it possible for her to reflect the fantasies of her screen audiences, in the sense she functioned as a receptacle for the emotions of others." An attempt on the present author to include the subject of Greta Garbo while corresponding with Norman Zierold, now a professor, was mostly unsuccessful. In keeping with the Greata Garbo that was nearly unknown to movies audiences for her personal life off-screen despite its being highly remarked upon by extra-diegetic text, the Garbo that had lurked in the shadows of museum-art-house screenings as a recluse after her retirement, the Garbo that had blindfolded her firing squad as she smoked a cigarrette as though at any time she could be sitting right beside any us us during any of her films while as spectators we made identifications with each interpellated nuance, I added, "These emotional structures are created within each particular film, often by subject and spectator positioning that exploits the combination of tragic seductress, the viewer, and the film's other characters often in relation to her pre-talkie, before sound, body in an objectification of sexual mystery, as when her body within the frame creates space between two other characters in front of the camera, isolating them near a specific visual motif, or when Greta Garbo briefly moves into the emotion of a particular solitude." But then clearly, the relationship between character and landscape and its interaction with subject positioning and or spectatorial positioning can also differ widely from one director to another, almost to the point where it includes stylization, as when comparing the film's of Victor Sjostrom and Carl Th. Dreyer- the relation of character to landscape during the appearances of Greta Garbo is a relation, or inverse relation, to modernity within the object arrangements of mise-en-scene and female sexuality. Louise Lagterstrom of the Swedish Film Institute adorned her writing on the arrival of Greta Garbo in Hollywood, "Mot Hollywood", with a photograph taken in 1924 by Arnold Grenthe, almost reiterating Garbo was photographed extensively, often posing as a photo-model for publicity stills before her deciding to live in self-imposed exile.

It it clearly for emotion that Garbo posed for the soft-focus series of portraits, almost in as much as the close up in film is used to depict the significant detail of the shot. During December 1925, a photograph of greta Garbo by Arnold Genthe was published in Picture Play magazine with the caption From the Land of the Vikings, it announcing that she was the "latest arrival" from Scandinavia, a "statuesque blond, very reserved in manner." Picture Play Magazine during 1927 used a full page photograph taken by Arnold Genthe to figurehead the article Rebellion Sweeps Hollywood, written by Aieleen St. John Brennon, following it within pages by a portrait of Lars Hanson by Ruth Harriet Louise, it's caption noting that he had "amassed a large following since his forceful performance in The Scarlett Letter and now has the title role in Captain Salvation. Greta Garbo 

     Picture Play magazine, in a section titled A Confidential Guide to Current Releases, reviewed Ibanez's "Torrent" with "Interesting film introducing the magnetic Swedish actress Greta Garbo to American audiences. Richard Cortez plays the young lover whose mother's influence kills his romance and ruins two lives."
     The entire review of The Torrent in Photoplay runs as follows: "Monta Bell stands well in the foreground of those directors who can take a simple story and fill it with true touches that the characters emerge real human beings and the resulting film becomes a small masterpiece. Such work has he created in The Torrent and for fans who are slightly grown up, this picture will be a visual delight. Greta Garbo, the new Swedish importation is very lovely." To provide a timeline, it appears on the same page as a review of The Devil's Circus (Benjamin Christensen). Tucked away in a later Photoplay issue was a more candid reviewer, "Greta Garbo exerts an evil fascination- on the screen. True, her debut was not auspiciously placed in The Torrent, which is in reality a babbling brook that runs on forever, now-she-loves-him-now-she don't until the end of the film and beyond." The reviewer then complements her as being attractive, surveying her eyes, lips and nostrils in, perhaps, a "gender-specific" paragraph. And yet Eugene V. Brewster began the watching of Greta Garbo on the part of Motion Picture Classic magazine with his own secular view, "At Metro Goldwyn Studios they showed me a few reels of Greta Garbo's unfinished picture. This striking young Swedish actress will doubtless appeal to many but somehow I couldn't see the great coming star in her the company expects." Frederick James Smith continued for Motion Picture Classic with Greta Garbo Arrives, "The newcomer is a slumber-eyed Norsewoman, one Greta Garbo, who seems to have more possiblities than anyone since Pola Negri of Passion...She isn't afraid to act. That she was able to stand out of an infererior story, poorly directed, is more than her credit...The Ibanez story is full of claptrap, including the dam that bursts without having anything to do with the story. Monta Bell tossed it in the film form without any apparent interest." It quickly followed with the article, "The Northern Star, The Screen's Newest Meteor is a Moody daughter of Sweden", written by Alice L. Tildelsey, who decidedly felt more at liberty to Greta Garbo than interviewers that came later. She relates that the actress had said, "I love the sea, yes. It understands me, I think...it is not happy, it is always yearning for something that it cannot have." Garbo purportedly referred to herself as "poor little Sweden girl" during the interview. "Now for my new picture I must learn to dance the tango and to ride the horse." Tidesley refers to Garbo as "a moody young thing, Greta Garbo, with the temperment of the true artist." The article imparts how Greta Garbo was introduced to Mauritz Stiller, who had seen her performing Ibsen and had had her called in to his office. The photograph of Garbo was taken by Ruth Harriet Louise. 
     National Board of Review magazine, although literate, may have remained true to form as it typified the film with, "The story preserves a European atmosphere in which parents still have the least say about their children's marriages." Biographer Richard Corliss fairly accurately assesses Greta Garbo's first of several silent films, "Not only does it prefigure many of the morals and motifs of her later pictures, but it avoids many of those films pirouettes into the ludicrous. All things considered (the times. the material, the studio, The Torrent is a suprisingly adult piece of work." While reading Corliss the reviewer as essayist, there is a slight temptation to see him presenting the synopsis of each story and the characters as being antiquated, that it is a reevaluation of our film and its incidents but, written while it was a given that Garbo was leading a solitary life, it is kept within Garbo being a mystery, that if the stories were outdated, they could be looked at with curiousity and inquiry, as the fantasies they were meant to be, and in that way the reviews of Richard Corliss only contain a hint of being outdated in their being questioning without necessity. To compare and contrast, if Corliss is writing about the versatility of Greta Garbo, John Bainbridge reverberates the sentiment, "What was to become known as the Garbo manner was but faintly discernable in The Torrent, but there were intimations." Bainbridge seems to keep his secret that much of the material for his biography was derived from fan magazines, albeit he conducted interviews. Biographies on Greta Garbo the sensation began to appear, almost in droves, as soon as the actress had spoken in sound film, many explaining how she reached the screen in Hollywood in the first place while adding spoonfuls of data about Mauritz Stiller. This was to nearly culminate in 1938 with Modern Screen's 15 pages of biography, The True Life Story of Greta Garbo, written by William Stewart. It summarized, "The picture was The Torrent, originally slated for Aileen Pringle but given to Garbo as a test of her ablility...It pleased her, but for final praise she awaited Stiller's word. "It is good.', he said, and those three encouraging words were sufficient." In that being bilingual played a part on Stiller's dismissal from M.G.M, there is an interesting quote from John Bainbridge's biography, "Her inability to speak English prevented her, even if she had wished, from mixing easily with the other people on the set. In spare moments at the studio she was being tutored in English by an interpreter who had been assigned to translate her. She also practiced English with her chief cameraman, William Daniels, with whom she struck up a pleasant and lasting acquaintance, 'I didn't teach Garbo to speak English,' Daniels has remarked, 'but we used to talk a lot and I would correct her on certain things. We understood each other, and talked about things we both knew- movie talk."
     Motion Picture News during 1926 gave the title to the film as "Ibanez' Torrent" The Exploitation Angles were given as "Feature Ricardo Cortez and Greta Garbo. Tell patrons about the letter's European success. Bill as strong emotional drama. Stress flood episode." The Production Highlights given for the film included the talent of actress Greta Garbo and "Spectacular Flood scene and unusual climax".
Rilla Page Palmborg, author of the biography The Private Life of Greta Garbo, described the premiere of "The Torrent" in California, "No one noticed Garbo as she and Mr. Stiller quietly slipped into seats at the rear of the dimly lighted house. No one saw them steal out of before the picture was finished. At the first picture Greta Garbo made in Hollywood she set the precedent of never appearing publicly at any of her pictures."