Greta Garbo DVD box set ‘Garbo: The Signature Collection’
Greta Garbo is the star of the DVD box set "Garbo: The Signature Collection," which is scheduled to come out on September 6. The release has been timed to coincide with what would have been Garbo’s centenary on September 18. (Photo: Greta Garbo 1930 Anna Christie movie.)
The eleven-film, ten-disc set includes the following Greta Garbo movies: Flesh and the Devil (1926), The Temptress (1927), The Mysterious Lady (1928), Anna Christie (1930), Anna Christie (German-language version, 1931), Mata Hari (1931), Grand Hotel (1932), Queen Christina (1933), Anna Karenina (1935), Camille (1937), and Ninotchka (1939). Among countless bonuses, the Greta Garbo DVD box set offers a feature-length documentary by film historian / documentarian Kevin Brownlow.
Flesh and the Devil
Flesh and the Devil is a beautifully shot melodrama about a vamp (Greta Garbo) who gets in the way of a very intimate friendship between John Gilbert and Lars Hanson. Future five-time Oscar nominee Clarence Brown directed this mammoth blockbuster.
In The Temptress, Garbo’s seductive charms wreak more havoc among the poor and helpless men who fall under her spell. This time, one of the victims is Antonio Moreno. Fred Niblo, fresh off his Ben-Hur success, directed.
The Mysterious Lady
The Mysterious Lady is a sort of silent Mata Hari, in which Garbo plays a seductive Russian spy. Flesh and the Devil‘s Lars Hanson co-stars. Fred Niblo directed.
Greta Garbo’s first talkie, the 1930 release Anna Christie (“Garbo Talks!”), is a dreary affair indeed; this heavy melodrama is worth watching solely as a historical curiosity. In the Clarence Brown-directed film, Garbo plays Eugene O’Neill’s tarty heroine, who finds love in the sleazy docks. Charles Bickford is the romantic interest, but it’s future Oscar winner Marie Dressler who almost steals the show. The German-language version of Anna Christie (1931), generally considered superior to the English version — Garbo looks much more like a street prostitute in this one — is included in the disc. It was directed by Jacques Feyder. For the English-language version (and for Romance), Garbo was a Best Actress Academy Award nominee for the period 1929-1930.
The Swedish Greta Garbo is surprisingly good in George Fitzmaurice’s Mata Hari, a romantic melodrama about a (part-)Javanese dancer who also happens to be a German secret agent. Mexican Ramon Novarro is her Russian lover. The international cast of characters also includes Americans Lionel Barrymore and Lewis Stone playing Frenchmen. Thanks to the Garbo-Novarro combo, Mata Hari became one of the biggest box-office hits of the early ’30s.
Based on Vicki Baum’s play, Edmund Goulding’s 1931-32 Best Picture Academy Award winner Grand Hotel is a plodding, overlong tale of crossed lives and loves at the Berlin hotel of the title. The film, however, is historically important, for it’s quite possibly the first motion picture to boast a five-star cast: Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, John Barrymore, Wallace Beery, and Lionel Barrymore.
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Greta Garbo 1930 Anna Christie photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.