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Daniel L. Haynes,
Nina Mae McKinney,
Even when Diana, Neville and David played together as children, Diana knew that she loved Nevs. But Morton, Nevs' father, did not like any Merrick. Since Nevs did not have any money, Morton sent him off to Egypt to work and also talked him out of marrying Diana before he left. Diana waited two years and then married David, who Jeffry thought was the greatest thing since sliced bread. While in Paris, David jumps to his death when the cops come after him and Diana lies about the reason for the sake of Jeffry. Of course Jeffry, who has been a drunk all his life, cuts all ties with Diana. While Nevs still loves Diana, she does not return to England for seven years - just 3 days before Nevs' wedding to Constance. Written by
Tony Fontana <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Surprisingly good cinematography, outstanding performances, Garbo in her late 1920s' masterpiece
"Garbo had something behind the eyes that you couldn't see until you photographed her in close-up. You could see thought. If she had to look at one person with jealousy, and another with love, she didn't have to change the expression. You could see it in her eyes as she looked from one to the other. And nobody else could do that on the screen." (director Clarence Brown in a 1968 interview).
Perhaps, you may consider it strange of me to quote Brown's memorable words about Garbo under the title of the film which is, most definitely, not the top - famous film with Greta Garbo. Yes, it is true that not many people have seen A WOMAN OF AFFAIRS (1928), comparing its popularity to her other films, like FLESH AND THE DEVIL, NINOTCHKA or GRAND HOTEL. Furthermore, it was not released on DVD in September 2005, on the occasion of her birth's 100th anniversary . Yet, it is one of the most unforgettable films where Garbo's silent performance has a soul throughout. But, at the same time, the movie can also boast marvelous cinematography, great performances from all cast, an interesting content, and the original soundtrack which opens it to a new era of the 1920s cinema, something in between silent and sound films with dialogs.
Let's start from the first aspect, CINEMATOGRAPHY. There are shots in this film that leave such a deep trace in the viewer that it is hard to forget them. I was absolutely astonished when I saw the moment where Diana (Greta Garbo) walks down the hill in the garden. The lighting and camera movement make such an effect that you simply admire the whole moment. The light is directed towards Diana's figure walking quickly but desperately after a bitter conversation with Morton Holderness (Howard Bosworth), an honorable father of her beloved Nevs (John Gilbert). Another brilliant scene is the one with flowers. Diana, recovering in hospital from the shock that she went through, keeps flowers by her side which remind her of Nevs. Soon before he comes to visit her, there is a brilliant shot of Diana lying in bed, in the state of delirium, and looking at flowers. She really has a blink in her eyes and the camera is directed towards her as well the flowers that she is staring at... Terrific, brilliant shot!
The CONTENT of the movie is based on controversial novel by Michael Arlen, THE GREEN HAT. However, I am not going to compare these two since the film can be watched without the knowledge of the book whatsoever. Since the novel entailed a lot of controversial things, the code made the producers change much, even names. What is more, the credits of the film had no information except "from the novel by Michael Arlen," skipping the fact which novel it was. Therefore, the content was so much changed that the film becomes quite a different story. But, a very interesting one. Except for many things worth attention, I particularly like three aspects about the content. Firstly, it shows the psychological struggle between honor and love, reason and emotions. This clash is most accurately presented in Diana - Morton's conversation at the tree when the elderly gentleman wants to stop the "silly boy and girl attachment" between Diana and his son, Nevs. Morton's character is expressed in another moment when he says to his son trying to convince him to give up the relationship "Ten generations are watching you!" Secondly, the content perfectly shows what a passionate love really means. It is not the matter of choice where I say "yes" or "no" but has a deep insight into the psyche of a particular person. Although Nevs is happy with his wife Constance (Dorothy Sebastian), he cannot stop thinking about Diana whom he has known since the light hearted days of childhood. Thirdly, humorous moments make the rather sad content brighter. Some of them may seem dated, but they are funny in a different way. For instance, the wit about lip rouge is not found in films nowadays. Nevertheless, such script may still be amusing.
The PERFORMANCES are absolutely outstanding. It is the third film in which Garbo appears with her real-life love interest John Gilbert and they both give marvelous jobs here. Their relationship is not that intimate and sensual as in FLESH AND THE DEVIL (1926), but it is more "hearty". Garbo gives her best performance when she is hugging the flowers in hospital. She completely opens herself to a viewer and you can read her mind, similarly like in the final shot of her 1933 masterpiece "Queen Christina". Gilbert is an elegant young person who portrays a man divided into two realities - the one of honor and duties and the one of love and dreams. Lewis Stone, a mainstay of most Garbo films (from this one to many others, including GRAND HOTEL and MATA HARI), does a great job as Dr Hugh Trevelyan, who approved of the relationship. Howard Bosworth is magnificent as cruel but honorable Morton Holderness, who disapproved of their relationship. Yet, Dorothy Sebastian gives a delicate performance of a beautiful young wife of Nevs, attempting to be happy and to make other people happy. So with these great performers, you see all of them in the final 10 minute-long scene at Holderness' house, where Diana comes to talk things over with Morton. I don't know how you will react to this, but I consider the scene a masterpiece of silent performances.
All things considered, A WOMAN OF AFFAIRS is a highly recommended film which stands out in our modern era of cinema, as an example of cinematography, performances and well selected content. But it is also Garbo, one of the greatest stars of cinema, about whom one cannot forget when planning to see the movie. Indeed, you can see thought when you look at her face. Garbo ... eternal in cinema!
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