1937                  Romantic drama

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    • Greta Garbo Marguerite
    • Robert Taylor Armand
    • Lionel Barrymore Monsieur Duval
    • Elizabeth Allan Nichette
    • Jessie Ralph Nanine
    • Henry Daniell Baron De Varville
    • Lenore Ulric Olympe
    • Laura Hope Crews Prudence
    • Rex O'Malley Gaston
    • Russell Hardie Gustave


  • Dir:
      George Cukor
  • Prod:
      David Lewis
  • Scr:
      Zoe Atkins, Frances Marion, James Hilton, from the novel La Dame aux Camelias by Alexandre Dumas fils
  • Cost Des:
  • Ph:
      William Daniels, Karl Freund
  • Ed:
      Margaret Booth
  • Mus:
      Herbert Stothart
  • Art Dir:
      Cedric Gibbons, Fredric Hope




    [ c a m i l l e : m o v i e  r e v i e w ]


    Rated: NR

      "the unapproachable goddess of the most widespread and remarkable mythology in human history."
                                                            - Alistair Cooke

    ONE day in 1938 a Scottish youth was arrested for stealing a photograph of Greta Garbo from a cinema in Glasgow. When the offender was brought to court and the charge against him read, the magistrate, whose name was Robert Norman Macleod, asked:

      "Who is Greta Garbo?"

    By uttering those four words Robert Norman Macleod secured his little niche in history. His question was considered so incredible that stories about it were cabled to newspapers around the world. Not to know, in the fourth decade of the twentieth century, who Greta Garbo was automatically marked a civilized man a freak, and with reason. For Garbo was not only the best-known woman in the world; she had also become, as the perspicacious Alistair Cooke remarked at the time:

      "the unapproachable goddess of the most widespread and remarkable mythology in human history."

    Garbo's fame as a goddess swelled fantastically as the thirties drew to a close. Her romantic attachments together with her celluloid triumphs made this period a kind of golden era for the millions who worshipped at Garbo's shrine. For the goddess herself it was a season, like all her seasons, more often melancholy than glad.

    In Camille, released in 1937, Garbo gave what is widely regarded as her greatest performance. Out of the famous, and flamboyant Dumas relic, a favourite vehicle of Bernhardt, Duse and numerous other actresses of genius through many generations, Garbo created a masterpiece. She had the benefit to be sure, of the brilliant direction of George Cukor, a script skilfully adapted by Zoe Akins, Frances Marion and James Hilton, and a sound supporting cast that included Robert Taylor, Henry Daniell, Lionel Barrymore Laura Hope Crews, and Lenore Ulric. But it was Garbo's faultless performance that dominated the picture and made it an enchantingly beautiful and unforgettable film.

    Through the magic of her acting Garbo transformed the essentially flimsy and flyblown Dumas romance into a completely credible and moving love story. In the role of the errant, tragic Marguerite, Garbo became a human being who really loved and suffered and died; the illusion was never marred. During the filming of the picture, she had taken pains to preserve the illusion by, among other things, adopting a rather special attitude towards Robert Taylor, then one of the newest notables in Hollywood, who played her youthful lover Armand. George Gukor has recalled:

      "While we were doing Camille, Garbo didn't talk much to Robert Taylor. She was polite, but distant. She had to tell herself that he was the ideal young man, and she knew if they became friendly, she'd learn he was just another nice kid."

    By playing the lady of the camellias, as the New York Herald-Tribune observed in its review of the film, Garbo:

      "challenged comparison with most of the great actresses of the last eighty years, but she can do so with triumphant assurance. Her sensitively thought-out and poignantly moving portrayal discloses the finest contemporary actress at the height other power."

    The New York Times, paying tribute to her "perfect artistry" and "eloquent, tragic yet restrained performance," found Garbo "as incomparable in the role as legend tells us that Bernhardt was." Garbo's playing of the famous death scene called forth praise that was nothing short of ecstatic. A British critic remarked"When she was dying:

      "she had the appearance not merely of being ill, but of having lain in bed for months; in her weakness she could not smile, but retained the pride of a Bernini statue."

      And Mary Cass Ganfield wondered "if a death scene has ever been played with such absence of bathos and such bitter truthfulness."

    Garbo's memorable portrayal in Camille won her the award (for the second time) of the New York Film Critics for the "best feminine performance" of the year. She was also nominated in 1937 for the "best-actress award" of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Oscar that year was given instead to Luise Rainer for her work in The Good Earth. Strange are the ways of Hollywood.

    Garbo's countrymen were more appreciative. A few months earlier Sweden's King Gustaf V had conferred on Garbo the "Litteris et Artibus" decoration, an ancient and highly prized award to recognize literary and artistic merit. (Others who have been thus honoured include Sarah Bernhardt, Jenny Lind, Ingrid Bergman and Marian Anderson.) The duty of delivering to Garbo the medal symbolizing the award was entrusted to the Swedish Consul-General in San Francisco. He had hoped to make the presentation in person, but after trying in vain for many weeks to establish contact with Garbo by telephone, telegraph and correspondence he at last gave up and forwarded the decoration to her by registered mail.


    • 1937: Nominations: Best Actress (Greta Garbo)

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