Monday, November 23, 2009

Precode Royalty - AHH Garbo!

For this meeting, we looked at Garbo's Queen Christina.  This is a wonderful film in so many ways.  Let's begin at the beginning - before we even see the glorious Garbo.  We were so impressed by Cora Sue Collins as the young Christina.  Just her walk told her story.  Only six years old, but already with a mind of her own, and the ability to rule, she is both amusing and enthralling.  I look forward to seeing a few more of this actress' films (she appears to have "retired" in 1945).

Then, we get to Garbo. Her relationship with Aage (C. Aubrey Smith), her body-man, is unique indeed. How many films actually show a man walking unbidden into a woman's bedroom to awaken her for the day's work? Immediately, we understand the dichotomy that is Christina.  We quickly discover she has a lover (Ian Keith, as Count Magnus) and perhaps another one in the person of her lady-in-waiting, Ebba (Elizabeth Young).  The kiss that Christina bestows on her young maid, and her anger at discovering Ebba with a young man point up that there is much more to this relationship than merely that of a Queen and her handmaiden.
Finally, we get to her nights with John Gilbert. How is it that EVERY item in the room seems to be phallic? Even a bunch of grapes make one sit up and take notice. We felt that John Gilbert is a very underrated actor. We were not sure why his career ended so early. As we all know, his voice was just fine. Perhaps a bit tenor, but certainly not unpleasant, and the chemistry between him and Garbo is palpable.  His duel with Ian Keith was exciting; his death scene totally moving.  And then, there is Garbo again. Her face a mask of determination and pain.  I defy anyone to not be moved at the sight of her staring off into her future.  Here it is:

Next time - Dancing Lady

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