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John S. Robertson
Johnny Mack Brown
In Czarist Russia, Anna Karenina falls in love with the dashing military officer Count Vronsky and abandons her husband and child to become Vronsky's mistress. Tragedy ensues when Vronsky chooses his military career over Anna. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Those involved in the film remembered John Gilbert as having been the primary director on this film. Greta Garbo would refuse to continue filming unless he approved a scene. Only Edmund Goulding is credited as director in the final version. See more »
Effective but unremarkable adaptation of ANNA KARENINA
With a mix of modern dresses for the ladies and typical regimental outfits for the men, this adaptation of ANNA KARENINA is quite different from the novel and other film versions in a few ways. After deserting her family for Vronsky, he does not tire of and desert her - he stays faithful - it is she who voluntarily gives him up to prevent his being thrown out of the Guards and thereby saves his name from disgrace - her suicide is to save him, rather than being an act of despair.
Anna's completely "losing it" when his horse falls in a race - in front of society - is her downfall as it exposes their affair to the world, after which society must wreak its revenge. Without this "flaw," things might have gone otherwise for her.
The finest scenes are between Garbo and Philippe de Lacy, who plays her son. Their two scenes are so full of playful mother-son love as to prove to better than Garbo's scenes with Gilbert. Indeed, there is none of the passion or obsession here that the two displayed earlier that year in FLESH AND THE DEVIL. de Lacy is a beautiful young actor and a "natural." One of the annoying things about Vronsky is his inability to understand this love - he selfishly wants Anna all to himself - the cad!
Garbo's farewell scene with Gilbert, she knowing she'll never see him again and he oblivious to this fact, is also quite well done.
The TCM print is flawed by having a live audience reacting poorly on the soundtrack, although the newly commissioned score by Arnold Brostoff is quite fine. This soundtrack addition occurred in 1994 and seems the only one accompanying prints of the film currently.
There is a beautifully photographed waltz with Garbo and Gilbert - oft seen in compilations and reminiscent of his waltz scenes with Mae Murray in THE MERRY WIDOW.
All in all, worth catching for Garbo, but the two later remakes of the work are much better.
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