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Erich von Stroheim
The wealthy Arden Stuart is bored in a party; after refusing the wedding proposal of Tommy Hewlett, she drives her car with her driver to a lonely place. She has one night stand with him and returns to the party; then she witnesses the driver being fired by a relative and committing suicide. In a rainy day, Arden goes to an exposition and meets the painter and aspirant boxer Packy Cannon. They sail to the South Seas together in his sailboat and Arden falls in love for him. However, a couple of months later, Packy dumps her and brings her back to her city, traveling to China alone. The heartbroken Arden is proposed again by Tommy and gets married with him. Three years later, Arden meets Packy by chance and becomes divided between her unconditional love for Packy and the love for her son. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Greta Garbo, in her second to last silent film, beautifully plays a normal, young, American woman socialite, who longs for excitement and love, though she cannot quite figure out what "love" is. Her character, Arden, who seems to have no parents, and who seems to exist effortlessly and rather detached among the high society set, has a brief romantic fling with her chauffeur, which causes scandal among the posh set, when the driver, fired, takes his own life.
Arden next finds "love" with rogue artist Packy Cannon, played passionately, but a little shallowly, by handsome Nils Asther. Nils tempts her to join him spontaneously on a pleasure cruise, and we do get a few hints as to what pleasure Packy is up to with Arden, but really, their passion is quite restrained, considering what modern day films splash on the screen. After Packy has compromised Arden, he callously decides he "loves" Arden too much to continue seeing her, and orders the boat turned around. Arden is heartbroken, deposited back onshore like an old and weathered boat rudder.
She next finds "love" with an old admirer, Tommy, played sweetly and sensitively by anything-but-dull, good-looking Johnny Mack Brown. He proposes and, on the rebound from Packy, she accepts. Three years later they have a child together and a very happy marriage. It was nice to see Greta playing a normal woman who eventually puts her marriage first before her old flame, just like most normal American women would do today. There is no compromise here, Arden simply makes the wisest decision for all concerned, which is ultimately based on true love, for true love always endures perfect sacrifice.
The print is rather deteriorating in spots and quite scratchy, but really, after you have seen as many silents in poor condition as I have, this one is still above average. It just goes to show how the studios blatantly neglected their silent classics once sound came in, letting them deteriorate or disappear into rust. A tragic and short-sighted waste.
It was nice to see other silent film actors like Dorothy Sebastian (Spite Marriage) and Mahlon Hamilton (Little Old New York) in the cast, albeit in small roles. The musical score was the old Vitaphone one but still rather elegant, though I wouldn't say it was beautiful, as the other reviewers here have stated.
If you are a Garbo fan or a fan of nicely made silent films, you will enjoy The Single Standard.
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