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The Temptress (1926)
Topic Started: Feb 25 2018, 12:09 PM (290 Views)
Laughing Gravy
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The Temptress (1926) Dir. Fred Niblo
106 min. / B&W / 1.33:1
DVD: TCM/Warner Archive

A beautiful young woman brings unhappiness, doom, and despair to all the men who dare to fall in love with her except the one who recognizes her for what she is and refuses to follow his heart, moving to Argentina to build a dam instead.

Nobody quite like Garbo, I don't think, in all of movie history. My goodness, what a screen presence.

Born in Sweden in a dirt-poor family, father dead when she was 14, she dropped out of school, became a shop girl, model, and actress, eventually studying at the Royal Dramatic Theatre's Acting School in Stockholm. Made a couple of movies, including the G.W. Pabst film Die freudlose Gasse in Germany; there are a lot of different stories about how she came to the attention of Louis B. Mayer, but however it happened, she came to America before her 21st birthday, speaking no English, not that big a drawback in silent pictures, anyway.

She fell under the wing of Irving Thalberg, who cast her in Torrent with Ricardo Cortez and then this one, with Antonio Moreno as the guy who vows to live without her, plus Marc McDermott, Armand Kaliz, Lionel Barrymore, and Roy D'Arcy. I admired the picture for its artistry (gorgeous shots, plus a thrilling flood near the climax) moreso than for its rather turgid script; Garbo is of course like a candle in the dark but all the men except Barrymore are greasy, mustached swarthy types and I didn't much care which one she ended up with, particularly because I wouldn't let a daughter of mine date ANY of 'em (when Garbo's husband's business partner - who had been financing the couple because the husband was forcing his wife to sleep with the guy - kills himself over her, all the husband can say is "Now who will pay my bills - my debts of honor?"

And yeah, as you can tell from that last sentence, the plot more complicated than I've let on. So much so, Mr. Mayer insisted on two endings, the "real" one that went out to the cities and the "happy" one that went out to the sticks. I kid you not (the DVD has both, take yer pick: the "real" one is far better).

Million-dollar Intertitle:
"What are we meant for - if not to amuse a woman!"

Tell me about it, jack.

Love that Garbo, liked the movie well enough, and have recently acquired (for the grand sum of a couple of bucks) the boxed set Warner issued with eight of her films plus a documentary. More Garbo on its way, folks.

"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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Balcony Gang, Foist Class
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One if Garbo's disillusioned lovers decamps to Argentina, in search of Manly Work to cleanse himself of her perfumed influence. He sings robustly (via intertitle) about this fine new life. I imagined Spanky and his buddies watching this and being inspired to form the He-Man Woman Haters Club.
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