TCM Archives: The Garbo Silents Collection - The Temptress / Flesh and the Devil / The Mysterious Lady (Sous-titres français)
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Garbo Silents (TCM Archives) (DVD) (Multi-Title)
After her debut in Europe and before she famously talked in Anna Christie, the most enigmatic of all movie stars, Greta Garbo, made 10 silent films at MGM. This DVD collects three of the group, a representative look at Garbo as unspeaking icon. The jewel in the batch is Flesh and the Devil, the gorgeous 1927 hit that partnered her with John Gilbert (a box-office tandem that lit up the end of the silent era). In this one, Garbo threatens the lifelong friendship of dashingly romantic Gilbert and wealthy Lars Hanson; the high melodrama culminates in a gallant duel and (literally) thin ice. Clarence Brown directed Garbo for the first of many times.
The Temptress (1926) is wilder, with Garbo as a man-killer who follows Antonio Moreno to the romantic plains of Argentina. The opening sequence, as she and Moreno fall madly in love during a Gatsby-esque party, is like a thumbnail of the exotic, heady Garbo appeal--instant, head-over-heels amour amongst the marble statues and champagne. There's also a bullwhip duel that must be seen to be believed. The Mysterious Lady (1928) is an even better vehicle for her, a tight lady-spy number that emphasizes Garbo's sultry, remote appeal. It's marred only by poor print quality. But at least The Mysterious Lady exists, unlike Victor Sjostrom's The Divine Woman, a Garbo film that survives only in an intriguing 9-minute scene, which is included on the DVD. "Divine" and "mysterious"--how better to start the conversation about Greta Garbo? --Robert Horton
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The Flesh and the Devil has Garbo as Felicitas.Gilbert meets her at the train station on his way home and is smitten immediately.Next time they meet is at a ball and they swear their undying love for each other.After this they rendezvous at her home,but then the hubby walks in.Gilbert is beside himself.The two men duel and Gilbert wins,killing his opponent.Gilbert is sent away by the Army to Africa to do penance for his crime.He serves three of his five years,each day and hour looking forward to the moment when Felicitas and he could be together.
On his return he is picked up at the train station by his very good friend Ulrich,and his love.His friend was supposed to have taken care of Felicitas for him,but he did better than that and married her.Gilbert is now terribly torn between his love for his Felicitas and his deep friendship for Ulrich.Ulrich goes away on a business trip and the day before he is to return Felicitas repeats her undying love and devotion to Gilbert,and they decide to elope the next day.Read more ›
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I do however have a few issues with this new release. First up is the exclusion of the new documentary GARBO from this set (it's part of THE SIGNATURE COLLECTION). It is listed as being included according to the TCM website but instead there's a documentary on the recent rescoring of the movies by a group of young composers. While that is interesting and important, the documentary on Garbo is more important and would get more people to buy the set. The packaging is annoying too with two of the three films presented on a double sided DVD (which can come apart) although I suppose it does keep the price down.
Then there's the choice of films. I'm sure every Garbo fan has something to say about this. I would like to have seen WOMAN OF AFFAIRS included as I think that remains one of her very best silents with fine work from a young Douglas Fairbanks Jr. I also wish that they could have used the tinted print for THE MYSTERIOUS LADY that was used for the VHS release since the quality of this print is no better than that one which had damage issues. The musical accompaniment for this edition is much better than the old release and overall it's up to TCM's high standards. While not the best of her silents FLESH AND THE DEVIL still remains electrifying thanks to the chemistry between her and John Gilbert and the glorious photography of William Daniels. THE MYSTERIOUS LADY is fun with the courtmartial scene a standout and Garbo a knockout in every frame. THE TEMPTRESS gives us a look at Garbo at the start of her American career. Perhaps these films were chosen because she has a different leading man in each one or to give Garbo fans something to argue about. Who knows?
Nevertheless it's great to have Garbo back where she belongs, up there on the silver screen (even if its a lot smaller and not nearly as silver as it used to be). Thanks to TCM Archives for once again bringing us the good stuff from the M-G-M vaults. Keep it coming Warner Home Video. First Chaney, then Keaton and now Garbo. What's next? How about the Lillian Gish Collection (THE SCARLET LETTER, LA BOHEME, THE WIND) or the Tod Browning Collection (THE SHOW, WEST OF ZANZIBAR, FREAKS). Just a thought.
The film seems to take place in 1800s Germany. It certainly takes place before the First World War, as there is a sense of confidence and security among the characters and their families at the beginning of the film. It was a time when the privileged classes lived in a sheltered world of their own and when honor meant everything. The two best friends Leo (Gilbert) and Ulrich (played by Lars Hanson) are from this wealthy "Junker" class. Leo is the free-spirited, spontaneous one, Ulrich the sensible, naive one. Their seemingly unassailable friendship is threatened by the "devil" herself, Felicitas (Garbo). Unaware, at the time, of the seductress' marriage, Leo soon finds himself in a duel with her husband. Leo's victory results in his 3-year military assignment in Africa, where he waits anxiously to be with Felicitas again. Only the two of them know of the passion they shared as a dispute at cards was the public reason for the duel. When Leo returns, he finds that his Felicitas is now married to his best friend. The evil enticement of Felicitas soon seizes Leo by the flesh, and he cannot resist her passion, even at the sake of his friendship with Ulrich. Will the devil cause the two best friends to meet their end in their own duel, or will the naive Ulrich prove the stronger of the characters? Suspenseful to the end, you will definitely watch this film more than once. Worth the price, especially for any Garbo, Gilbert, or silent film fan.
No doubt everyone has one or more Garbo favourites, and perhaps TCM had trouble deciding which ones to include in this set. For some powerful emotional drama, "Flesh and the Devil" is probably one of the best and a good choice, especially as it features the two biggest stars of the time who were drawing large audiences: Garbo and John Gilbert. For a love story with espionage and suspense, it doesn't get much better than "The Mysterious Lady", and finally, "The Temptress" shows an interesting angle on Garbo's character. Her sensuous and alluring beauty brings men's lives to ruin, but she is unaware of any wrong-doing on her own part; and in fact, when she does see what problems she has unintentionally caused, she ends up a pathetic alcoholic on the streets of Paris, making one last sacrifice out of love. This story intrigued me the most, in fact, as it has some depth and an angle that might not be so obvious at first. There is also an alternative happy ending which was shown to other audiences; also an interesting point to consider. Each film on these discs has an optional commentary by 3 different experts, covering all kinds of background information, some gossip and other insights to give a more in-depth and complete picture of Garbo and these three particular films. No doubt there's something for everyone here, both for silent and general film or Garbo fans alike.