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Tony Fontana <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Garbo and Cinematographer William Daniels are the real co-stars
This is a rather long - for the period - tale of brotherly friendship interrupted by a femme fatale. The plot is simple - a woman destroys at least her husband's life and almost those of two best friends through loose morals.
Garbo is alluring as always and she looks much more glamorous here in her third MGM film than in the prior two (THE TORRENT, THE TEMPTRESS). The plot is interesting but evaporates as soon as one is through watching. What lingers in the mind and heart are Garbo's beauty and the physical beauty of the film.
Daniels'cinematography boasts a number of tracking (inside arriving and departing trains - the latter a premonition of a classic shot in SINCE YOU WENT AWAY) and dolly shots as well as some stunning compositions. Note the first shot - the bugler in silhouette against the rising sun, the swirling overhead shot of Garbo and Gilbert waltzing.
Three are standouts - the lighting of Garbo and Gilbert's faces in the grove with a baby spot acting as light from a lit match; the dolly in on the clenched fist of the husband who throws open his wife's boudoir door to find her with Gilbert - a perfect diagonal splitting the screen; and a penultimate piece of cinematic art - the entire duel sequence done in silhouettes of figures and trees - an extraordinary sequence.
There is excellent composition and lighting in the scene when Hanson discovers Garbo and Gilbert together and a fine use of multiple dissolves in the scene of the final duel.
The original music composed by Carl Davis for the Thames restoration of this film and released on the MGM/UA VHS of 1988 - now sadly out of print as are all of Garbo's silent films - is appropriate, especially the love theme (heard also on Kevin Brownlow's Hollywood documentary series). This lovely and unforgettable theme is heard in a number of scenes, primarily over the main title, the train meeting of Garbo and Gilbert, the ball where they dance, their idyll at her home, her imploring of Gilbert to return to Hanson's friendship, the final seduction scene and the last embrace.
A film to be seen as an example of how far the camera had come in a few short years - since Murnau's invention of the moving camera in THE LAST LAUGH (1924)and for Garbo's undying beauty.
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