A Greta Garbo Centennial Tribute

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Painted Veil (1934) - Richard Boleslawski

To celebrate Greta Garbo's 100th birthday in September 18th 2005, every friday in September i have dedicated this blog to one of her Yet-To-Be Released-On-DVD movies from the MGM period as i do in my other blog named : 24 Lies Per Second which is dedicated to "screen captures of old rare movies from vhs". I will now keep on focusing on one of her movies in several frames taken from my personal collection. Before we begin, i want to thank TCMFrance for their nearly complete Garbo Retrospective in october 2004 without who i would never have the priviledge to own this collection. If you're living in the USA, Turner Classic Movies has broadcasted the same retrospective in september 2005 !!
I will now capture a new Garbo movie twice a week : every friday & every monday. These are all the MGM Yet-To-Be Released-On-DVD movies that's left for me to capture :
Conquest (1937) - Two-Faced Woman (1941)

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Let me put this clear.
The Painted Veil is the worst movie EVER with Garbo.
First of all it is poorly directed by Richard Boleslawski, happilly Williams Daniels is still the cinematographer so we'll have some beautiful shots. Then her two leading men are absolutely insignificant, George Brent who plays her lover is ridiculous. You just can't believe that Garbo will fall deeply in love with someone so self-righteous. Garbo is doing what she can with a plot so cliche and fortunately for us, she did it well once again. But you can only agree with her when she said that this movie was "rubbish".
Letter to H.Wachmeister. july 28th 1934. In Conversations With Greta Garbo - Sven Broman (Viking Penquin)

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Strangely, The Painted Veil has been made between 2 Garbo masterpieces : Queen Christina & Anna Karenina.

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"Her eyes deny the strange sound which your lips utter."

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"How could you ? i could!"

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I love this scene. Unfortunately, i had to trick the capture in Picasa for the reflection in the window to appear.
But what reflection ? don't you agree ?

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While playing the movie she wrote : "The only natural thing for me to do right now would be to disappear from films and get people to forget totally that i ever existed."
Letter to H.Wachmeister. july 28th 1934. In Conversations With Greta Garbo - Sven Broman (Viking Penquin)

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"Clearly many things have gone wrong: the story, the scene, the plot, the characterization, the direction, the choice of actors...There seems to have been a conspiracy to reduce Garbo to meaninglessness."
Robert Payne. The Great Garbo. CooperSquarePress.

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"Again Greta Garbo triumphs by the sheer beauty of herself and her spirit over a picture that is only tolerable because what she gives to it."
Norbert Lusk in Picture Play magazine.

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I love the way she's praying in that scene in quite a naive way.
That's the closer we can get to imagine Garbo as Joan Of Arc. Indeed, her friend Mercedes D'Acosta has wrote this script for her for long months during the production and the shooting of The Painted Veil but eventually it failed when Garbo didn't want to do it for reasons unknown.
I personally think that it is a great loss for all of us who considered the Cinematograph as an art & not only as an industry.

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"It's such a pity that i'm not home. I think about it and long for it every moment. But prostitutes are never very happy. I've already been back here for more than two and a half years now and have only made two films. It's that's awful contract i signed and i can do nothing about it."
Letter to H.Wachmeister. 1934. In Conversations With Greta Garbo - Sven Broman (Viking Penquin)

"Katrin (Garbo) marries Dr. Walter Fane (Herbert Marshall) and goes with him to China where his practice keeps him busy and her alone. She meets Jack Townsend (George Brent), a diplomatic attaché, and has an affair with him. Fane finds out and gives Katrin an ultimatum: he is going into the interior to fight a cholera epidemic and she must go with him unless Townsend divorces his wife and marries her. Townsend refuses to give up his career and Katrin accompanies her husband. Eventually Fane changes his mind and gives her the opportunity to leave, but Katrin stays and becomes a tireless working administering to the cholera victims. But when Fane orders a district burned to prevent the spread of the disease he is stabbed by an angry Chinese. As Katrin learns what has happened to her husband, Townsend returns."
Lawrance M. Bernabo. An Amazon reviewer.

These frames are taken from a Broadcast on TCMFrance in october 2004.
The Painted Veil has been released on VHS by Warner Studios in november 1990.

bye bye now...
See you next friday for another Garbo movie : Conquest .
In the meantime, any comments will be appreciated.


Anonymous Martin Kukuczka said...

These screen captures are very nice! I have THE PAINTED VEIL in my film gallery and I like the movie. It is strikingly similar to Garbo's silent, WILD ORCHIDS (1928) but it also has a very interesting look at the Orient.

Garbo plays Katrin very well and her leading men are not that bad! George Brent had a short affair with Garbo whilst filming the movie. What is more, the film is the first Garbo's movie which was made after her masterpiece, QUEEN CHRISTINA (1933) and the first that had to face the heyday of the Hayes' Code.

Bravo Phillipe, You have entailed such a huge number of screen captures in the last two months! Thank you once again in my name and hopefully in the name of many Greta Garbo's fans throughout the world! She can't be forgotten because there are people who appreciate classic!

7:55 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the screen captures
i have this movie
and i like it alot
it is very dif from most GG films and characters.

12:24 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel bit confused about this film: it seems like the worst MGM done that year and the clear plan to kill Garbo´s popularity and waisting her talent..bit funny, that it was shot last year again with Naomi Watts.
Silly plot, silly characters, completly meaningless direction. But anyway I love this movie - especially the scene before carneval. Garbo is silmply Garbo and though in totally bad film, she is a star anyway..

9:37 PM


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