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