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PAINTED VEIL

 Unrated   DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Product Description

One year after 1933's Queen Christina, Greta Garbo again portrays a heroine faced with irrevocable choices. She plays Katrin in The Painted Veil, an exotic love triangle loosely based on W. Somerset Maugham's novel. The story unfolds in China, where Katrin's marriage to busy M.D. Walter Fane (Herbert Marshall) is in trouble. Lonely and neglected, Katrin falls in love with diplomatic attaché Jack Townsend (George Brent). When Walter discovers the affair, he takes Katrin inland to fight a cholera epidemic, maliciously thinking the disease will kill them both. But working together helps rebuild their marriage... until Townsend resurfaces. Now Katrin must choose. MGM backed The Painted Veil with a then-opulent $1 million budget, but the real attraction remains Garbo and her incomparable mystique. Said The New York Times in a review of the film: "She is the most miraculous blend of personality and sheer dramatic talent the screen has ever known."

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars SOULFUL MELODRAMA May 19 2000
Format:VHS Tape
Set in the mysterious Orient, Garbo is cast as an unfaithful wife who eventually mends her ways........... she's magnificent throughout this rather weak story in one stunning scene after another (Garbo alone is worth the "price of admission"). Garbo just had finished her smash hit QUEEN CHRISTINA when she went into this rather mediocre Maugham tale. The rather melodramatic story, which was adapted for the screen by John Meehan, Salka Viertel and Edith Fitzgerald, seems to hark back to Garbo's silent films as she's torn between a worthy husband and a passionate lover; its plot is curiously similar to that of WILD ORCHIDS (1928) except that China replaces Java as the exotic locale. It was rumoured offscreen that Garbo and Brent had a briefly torrid little affair; however Garbo baulked when Brent insisted on marriage!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic is a classic is a classic Jan. 18 2001
Format:VHS Tape
Where else can you watch Garbo cheat on Herbert Marshall with George Brent...and during the interum meet up with Warner Oland (Charlie Chan) in a bar??? It definietly caught my attention. I would recommend if only for the aesthetics. Check out the bar..very KONTIKI...gotta buy this one..
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4.0 out of 5 stars one of garbo's better films. June 26 2000
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
The film did badly when it was first released. After viewing it, i know the present audiences can't really rely on the history. Though the film was not Garbo's best,but it's one of the better ones.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Divine Garbo in a Complex Love Triangle in the Orient Aug. 11 2003
By Simon Davis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
I always feel approaching a Greta Garbo film to review it is like entering some Sacred Temple where one must show due respect and restraint.For the whole of the 1930's decade she along with Joan Crawford and Norma Shearer held the prime positions as the annointed Queens of MGM. Garbo however always seemed to have her own special niche in the pecking order and always had more popularity with European audiences than with the average American movie going public who flocked to Crawford's shop girl melodramas and Shearer's lady like portrayals in high society settings.
Fresh from her triumph in "Queen Christina", the previous year MGM legend Garbo tackled this modern dress romantic film which turned out to be her last modern themed film for quite some time. Indeed by this stage in her career Garbo was down to only making one film a year so her productions were always viewed as special events even when their stories might not have always been up to the quality of the rest of the production. "The Painted Veil", is a classic example of just this. While the story itself is fairly ordinary the same cannot be said for the lavish production with all its "A" list features, and the interesting central performance by Garbo. The story centres around an Austrian girl named Katrin who after the wedding of her only sister finds herself at a loose end and lonely for companionship. Still in the fallout from the wedding Katrin meets her father's assistant Dr. Walter Fane (Herbert Marshall), a sturdy but unexciting man who is immediately infatuated with Katrin and on a whim asks her to marry him before he returns to his position in Hong Kong. With nothing more inviting on the horizon Katrin agrees and after the wedding travels to China with Walter where she takes her place as one of the colonies bored wives who spend their days shopping and playing cards. Into this setup comes Jack Townsend (George Brent),who works for the British Embassy in Hong Kong and very quickly the two are involved in an affair. Walter discovers the truth and to punish Katrin decides to go into China's interior to help fight the cholera epidemic taking her with him in the belief that there at least no man can have her and she will be deprived of her one source of happiness. Because Jack refuses to give up his promising career which he would have to do to marry Katrin, she goes with Walter where in the midst of the crisis the two begin to see the real value in each other. As the crisis worsens Walter is nearly killed by a stab wound inflicted by an angry villager who's house Walter orders burnt to fight the epidemic. Katrin who has been tirelessly nursing the cholera sufferers then rallies to he husband's side and even the reappearance of Jack in the plague stricken area cannot tear her away from her real duty to her husband.
Based on a novel by none other than W. Somerset Maugham, the material at times is a bit thin but still makes compulsive viewing if only to see Garbo's sterling performance as the wayward woman torn between two very different men. Directed with gusto by veteran MGM director Richard Boleslawski he keeps the main action against which the story is set rolling on. As the two male leads Herbert Marshall and George Brent have their work cut out for them against Garbo but come across rather well in their very different characters. Marshall plays his usual upright character but here is injected with just an element of malice to make his playing a little less bland than usual. George Brent used to playing against powerful leading ladies like Bette Davis has just the right element of the cad in his character to breathe a bit of life into what could have been a cardboard character. Being a Garbo vehicle all the MGM expertise are evident on the screen from the superb lighting for all of Garbo's closeups courtesy of William Daniels, her stunning clothes by the legendary MGM designer Adrian, the interesting depiction of China in the last days of the Empire and the quite harrowing scenes of the cholera stricken villages all created within the confines of MGM studios.
I find Greta Garbo always a pleasure to watch on screen and she manages with her unique style to breath life into any story no matter how weak the material. Her absolute understanding of any character she is playing is always very evident and no more so than in "The Painted Veil". I enjoy the real feel of olden times China which is created in this story and find it a terrific romantic drama and to sit back and enjoy. It certainly shows one of MGM's crowning glories in a lavish production created around her where she is showcased to perfection. I recommend the exotic "The Painted Veil", to anyone interested to studying the great mystique of the legendary Greta Garbo.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars SOULFUL MELODRAMA May 19 2000
By "scotsladdie" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
Set in the mysterious Orient, Garbo is cast as an unfaithful wife who eventually mends her ways........... she's magnificent throughout this rather weak story in one stunning scene after another (Garbo alone is worth the "price of admission"). Garbo just had finished her smash hit QUEEN CHRISTINA when she went into this rather mediocre Maugham tale. The rather melodramatic story, which was adapted for the screen by John Meehan, Salka Viertel and Edith Fitzgerald, seems to hark back to Garbo's silent films as she's torn between a worthy husband and a passionate lover; its plot is curiously similar to that of WILD ORCHIDS (1928) except that China replaces Java as the exotic locale. It was rumoured offscreen that Garbo and Brent had a briefly torrid little affair; however Garbo baulked when Brent insisted on marriage!
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars one of garbo's better films. June 26 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
The film did badly when it was first released. After viewing it, i know the present audiences can't really rely on the history. Though the film was not Garbo's best,but it's one of the better ones.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This veil is a little too thin... Nov. 23 2009
By Andrew Ellington - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
The 2006 remake of this film (or should I say readaptation of the W Somerset Maugham novel) is a marvelous cinematic achievement; the perfect blend of beauty, tragedy, love and hate. It runs the gamut of human emotions and offers one of cinemas most fully fleshed out and beautifully tailored performances. I often have praised Naomi Watts' beautiful portrayal of Kitty Fane, for she really gives us a character that makes the complete circle of life so-to-speak. She gives us every stage of her emotional journey with effortless grace.

Enough about `that' version of this movie!

Richard Boleslawski's 1934 version of `The Painted Veil' has some, but not a lot, in common with John Curran's remake. The basic premise of Kitty marrying Walter, a mad she barely knows and does not love, is still here. She still has an affair and is ushered off to the pits of cholera infested Asia with her husband as a consequence, but the way in which Boleslawski handles the relationships between all parties is rather different.

And the ending, but I have not read the novel and thus don't know who was more faithful.

This 1934 film concentrates much more on the budding romance between Kitty and Jack Townsend then necessary. In the 2006 film their relationship begins and ends in the first 15 minutes of the film, which allows for the blossoming relationship between Kitty and Walter to get the attention required, giving it sustenance and heart. By the time hearts are softened and lives are changed we should be able to truly feel it within the characters, and in the 2006 film we can. Here it is more difficult, beings that their relationship is really only given about 30 minutes of screen time. It was an odd directorial decision, and it served as a disservice to the film.

And I much preferred the ending given the newer version.

That said, the performances are really great here from everyone, and they work to carry the film, even when the script falls short. Greta Garbo is wonderful as Kitty, but the script doesn't give her the benefit of a fully fleshed out character (although her `revelation' scene before her husband leaves us astonishing). Herbert Marshall uses a nice restraint to his performance that adds to the layers of hurt he is experiencing; and George Brent has glorified supporting role as Townsend, and he uses ample amounts of suave charm to create a memorable character.

In the end, `The Painted Veil' is a good film, but it is rather incomplete. It has the basic promise of something special, but it does add enough layers to make it really stand out and grab us. I'd recommend the remake before I'd recommend this one. There is just so much more there.

This one is good, but far from great.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent DVD-R! July 1 2013
By E. Sadowski - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Finally! Warner Brothers has released this 1934 version of Greta Garbo's film on DVD-R. Again, it bears repeating that it is a DVD-R and NOT a regular DVD so please make sure that your DVD player and computer are compatible with DVD-Rs so that you are not disappointed if it doesn't play. Having said this, and as Desert Dancer has written earlier, the quality of the DVD-R is much improved over the faded VHS copy. Although Warner Brothers claims that they only use the best available copy of the film and do not try improving the quality of the film or sound yet I do believe that some remastering is done given the age of the film. I do not believe that any film made in the 30s can remain looking as good as it does without a minor tweaking done to it even though it is not perfect. The blacks, whites, and grays look better and the sound is much improved with miniscule (if any) pops or hisses. The only part that doesn't look as good and has the same issue on the VHS copy is the background of China when Dr. and Mrs. Fane are travelling back from their honeymoon on a ship. Since the background with Chinese boats was filmed elsewhere and then put on giant movie screens it does look a bit faded out but perhaps there was no way to fix the problem since most movies back then were filmed on studio lots while some background shots were filmed elsewhere which was a common practice back then.

Anyway, the film is loosely based on Maugham Somerset's book of the same name. Dr. Fane (Herbert Marshall) vacations in Austria where he falls in love with Katrin (Greta Garbo) and proposes to her shortly before leaving back to China. Katrin marries him and goes back to China with him where, as a busy M.D., he tends to neglect his wife who through loneliness and neglect enters into an affair with another man. When the good doctor finds out about the affair he revenges himself on his beloved by taking her to a village where the outbreak of cholera is rampant. His intention is that the cholera might kill her, him, or both of them. But does it really? It's worth finding out.:-)

Ewa
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