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Anna Christie

Greta Garbo , Charles Bickford , Clarence Brown , Jacques Feyder    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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It's one of the most highly anticipated entrances in movie history: Greta Garbo slinking into a sleazy waterfront bar and ordering whiskey. Well, "visky." A huge silent star, Garbo was speaking her first lines in her first talking picture, Anna Christie, and audiences were breathless with anticipation. As The New York Times put it, "The low enunciation of her initial lines, with a packed theater waiting expectantly to hear her first utterance, came somewhat as a surprise yesterday afternoon in the Capitol, for her delivery is almost masculine." Her sultry tones were nevertheless a hit, and anyway the Swedish accent fit the character.

Anna Christie is adapted from Eugene O'Neill's play, a piece of gloom about prostitute Anna returning to her seafaring father (George F. Marion) and falling for a sailor (Charles Bickford). The movie's fascination as a Garbo milestone and slice of early-sound Hollywood easily outstrip its actual value as a work of art, for it has not aged especially well. Under the direction of Garbo regular Clarence Brown, the dialogue tends to fall on long, dead pauses and creak with early-sound-era uncertainty. But the print for the DVD release looks very good, and despite her sometimes dodgy approach to English, it's still Garbo--odd, sexy, uncategorizable. The DVD also includes the German-language version, directed by Jacques Feyder, with Garbo and a German cast; the print quality is not as felicitous as the American version but it's an intriguing contrast, and Garbo looks slightly more comfortable in speaking. --Robert Horton


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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Much more than 'Garbo Talks!' Dec 16 1999
Format:VHS Tape
Eugene O'Neill's play was here adapted to the silver screen, and to Garbo. The plot is dated, and this being 1930 the sound's quality is not entirely mastered. But there are the characters, the actors, the gloom and doom of early Depression. And, of course, this also very much Garbo's film. Unlike many past(and following) roles she's no femme fatale here. Anna's character is the strongest in the film, not so much dominating the males (boyfriend, father) but being manlier more mature and more independent than either will ever be. She might survive without them. It's doubtful if they could have achieved the same.
And that's pretty much where Garbo stands in relation to this film. She's the one that breathes life into it, and whenever she's off camera only Marie Dressler's drunken-lucid banter keep the interest. Still, undoubtedly a classic. Minus Garbo this would be a 3 stars...
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4.0 out of 5 stars A GARBO MILESTONE. Nov. 11 2001
Format:VHS Tape
The once highly esteemed script-writer, Frances Marion, faithfully followed the text of the famous Eugene O'Neil play which starred Blanche Sweet on Broadway in the early twenties. Bette Davis, who was a devout "Garbomaniac" (as Garbo fans were called in the thirties), once stated about Garbo's acting: "What Garbo did on the screen was sheer witchcraft... I cannot analyze this woman's acting". In her first sound film, after what seems an eternity, Garbo finally comes into view, weary and cynical, she says to the bartender: "Gif me a viskey - chinger ale on the side. And don't be stingy, baby!". Her voice was blissfully right on target! This 1930 antique is very talky and reminds one of a silent movie with dialogue. If it were not so well-acted, it would be very tiresome indeed. Garbo's voice was noted as being in strange and beautiful accord with the Garbo personality of the silent pictures. Garbo had, more than than any other actress on the screen in the early thirties, the ability to emit the power of suggestion, and, in infinite degrees, expose the isolated mysteriousness of the human soul. Charles Bickford does quite well as the Irish seaman, and as the the old waterfront hag, Marthy Owens, Marie Dressler put an infinite amount of detail in her excellent (albeit a bit hammy) characterization; Garbo was so impressed by Dressler's performance that she personally brought a bouquet of chrysanthemums to Dressler's home in appreciation. On both the stage and screen, George Marion seemed destined to be old Chris; his remarks about "Dat old davil sea" has made audiences laugh for over 70 years.
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4.0 out of 5 stars German with English subtitles version is better! Dec 20 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Of the two versions I saw, I preferred the German version with English subtitles. Garbo's performance as well as that of the supporting cast was more inspired. I will keep looking for that version before I buy!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars July 17 2014
By no
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
loved the movie-but I love nothing but older classic movies with actors that act.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  24 reviews
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars German with English subtitles version is better! Dec 20 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
Of the two versions I saw, I preferred the German version with English subtitles. Garbo's performance as well as that of the supporting cast was more inspired. I will keep looking for that version before I buy!
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A GARBO MILESTONE. Nov. 11 2001
By "scotsladdie" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
The once highly esteemed script-writer, Frances Marion, faithfully followed the text of the famous Eugene O'Neil play which starred Blanche Sweet on Broadway in the early twenties. Bette Davis, who was a devout "Garbomaniac" (as Garbo fans were called in the thirties), once stated about Garbo's acting: "What Garbo did on the screen was sheer witchcraft... I cannot analyze this woman's acting". In her first sound film, after what seems an eternity, Garbo finally comes into view, weary and cynical, she says to the bartender: "Gif me a viskey - chinger ale on the side. And don't be stingy, baby!". Her voice was blissfully right on target! This 1930 antique is very talky and reminds one of a silent movie with dialogue. If it were not so well-acted, it would be very tiresome indeed. Garbo's voice was noted as being in strange and beautiful accord with the Garbo personality of the silent pictures. Garbo had, more than than any other actress on the screen in the early thirties, the ability to emit the power of suggestion, and, in infinite degrees, expose the isolated mysteriousness of the human soul. Charles Bickford does quite well as the Irish seaman, and as the the old waterfront hag, Marthy Owens, Marie Dressler put an infinite amount of detail in her excellent (albeit a bit hammy) characterization; Garbo was so impressed by Dressler's performance that she personally brought a bouquet of chrysanthemums to Dressler's home in appreciation. On both the stage and screen, George Marion seemed destined to be old Chris; his remarks about "Dat old davil sea" has made audiences laugh for over 70 years.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Garbo speaks....and speaks.......and speaks! July 6 2007
By Douglas M - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
"Anna Christie" is most famous as the film which released Greta Garbo from the silent era, the last major star to make the transition. The marketing of the film ensured that this was a major cinematic event and the film was a box office smash but it does not really stand the test of time.

Based on a depressing Eugene O'Neill play, this is an unusual piece for Garbo because she plays a contemporary figure surrounded by 3 character actors in demanding parts. She suffers by comparison. George Marion as her father and Marie Dressler as his mistress create incredibly real people. The scenes with Dressler are wonderful; Garbo, the mistress of underacting, with Dressler, the mistress of overacting, and meeting in the middle with genuine rapport. Charles Bickford as the boorish Irish lover is good too but he has no charisma, no screen magnetism. It is just not convincing that Garbo could fall for him. The film has endless talk, little action, a static camera and a soundtrack which is often hard to understand. Garbo's unease with American slang is obvious with some of her line readings emphasising the wrong words. The story has a poor ending, moving from hysteria to rationalisation in the flick of an eye and with what has gone on before, it is easy to speculate that this motley group have got lots of bad times ahead.

The print of the film is surprisingly good and far superior to other Garbo DVDs of later talkies. The package includes the German version of the film too. It is shorter and darker. Garbo looks more seedy and it is obvious that she is more comfortable with the German language.

The DVD is best purchased as part of one of the Garbo collections because only then will you obtain any extras which will tell you more about the star and the film.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars When she tells the truth, they all want her to 'beat it'... Dec 27 2005
By K. Oleszczyk - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
ANNA CHRISTIE is a wonderful film, beacause its stylistic clumsiness doesn't make in any less touching than it is. Garbo's performance is simultanousley ridiculous and terrific, her Anna being lost in the world a little bit less than Greta is lost in the English pronountiation. She swifts perfectly between radiant expressions of hope and innocence, and the sad knowledge of being 'doomed' by her past.

The shortest possible synopsis would be this: Anna Christie admits to her father and fiance-to-be that she 'was in the house'. 'Yes, in that kind of house'. And when they hear this, they all want her to 'beat it'. I wouldn't spoil much by revealing that there actually is a happy ending. It involves a very funny moment, when Anna is making an oath upon the catholic cross, and suddenly admits that she isn't catholic. Poor Matt's eyes at this very moment express all the anguish of pre-modern heterosexual man, who wanted his 'beloved' to be not only virgin, but also an eunuch.

Great fun--as long as you don't treat it too seriously.

Michal Oleszczyk, Tarnowskie Gory, Poland
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Garbo talks." In essence, a Eugene O'Neil play. May 25 2007
By Michael Cunniff - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
This film is the great Eugene O'Neil in all his dark glory. Moody, dark, slow-paced, and bearing his intense psychology, it is not a film for all audiences or tastes. In addition to the great Garbo, is a magnificent perfomance by the silent film legend Marie Dressler. Before her death, she would make 3 classics with Wallace Beery, one of which was FDR's favorite film of all time: "Tugboat Annie." Her banter with Jean Harlow in "Dinner at Eight," was peerless and hysterical.

This film is a one of those "transition" pieces from the silent to the talking era, and as such, carries aspects of both periods.

Well worth seeing and having in one's collection.
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