Vienna in the biggest depression, directly after WW1. In a slum, Lila Leid, the wife of lawyer Leid is murdered, Egon, secretary of one of Leid's clients is arrested. He was with her, and ... See full summary »
Georg Wilhelm Pabst
Leo and Ulrich are life long friends. Home, on leave from their military training, Leo sees the beautiful Felicitas at the railroad station. Awed by her beauty, they meet again at the ball and quietly leave together. In her room, her husband, about whom she has neglected to inform Leo, comes in and challenges Leo to a duel. The duel is done, the Count is killed, and Felicitas is a widow. Leo, however, is 'requested' to serve 5 years in Africa and he tells Ulrich to watch over Felicitas while he is gone. After 3 years, Ulrich is able to get a pardon for Leo, and all that Leo thinks about on the way home is Felicitas. When he arrives, he learns that Felicitas has married Ulrich. Felicitas likes that Ulrich is rich and she never told Ulrich the truth about Leo and her. Leo is crushed and does not visit them which saddens Ulrich as he does not know the reason why. Leo tries to stay away from her, but Felicitas uses every opportunity to tempt him to return to her as her lover. She creating... Written by
Tony Fontana <email@example.com>
Yes, the plot is a bit cliche but the performances certainly make up for it! Garbo, only in the early years of her career, gives an incredibly smoldering performance as the unredeemable temptress Felicitas, who snags the hapless Leo (John Gilbert) into a web of sex and lies. Look at that sly smile as she's trying on her widow's weeds -- very effective. John Gilbert, the heir of Valentino's mantle, proves that he surpassed the master lover with a believable portrayal of a man who realizes that he's way over his head but can't help himself. He does indulge in a bit of histrionics, but is very restrained compared to other silent lovers of the era. Only his performances in "The Big Parade" and "Downstairs" better this one. As Felicitas' second husband, Lars Hanson has the looks and talent to hold his own on the screen with his two incredibly dynamic co-stars. He amazed me opposite Lillian Gish in "The Wind" and "The Scarlet Letter" and it's a shame that he made so few movies in Hollywood before returning to Sweden.
Clarence Brown keeps the narrative flowing with a healthy balance of humor, drama, romance and action. MGM's stock company of character actors (William Orlamond, Polly Moran, George Fawcett and Eugenie Besserer) make an appearance and provide excellent supporting players to the three stars.
I found the Carl Davis score to be absolutely perfect for the images up on the screen, and the music when Garbo and Gilbert dance and two necking sessions reflect the raw passion. It's just stunning and I can't come up with enough words to describe it. After Buster Keaton's entire body of work, this movie ranks as my #2 favorite, tied with The Wind.
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