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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
St. John was a marvelous writer and an advocate for women's rights. Arden Stuart (the character Garbo plays here)is molded after herself. The plot is thin and like the later THE DIVORCEE, had to please the critics by having a conventional cop-out ending - the woman chooses husband and home over sexual freedom. Thus the very spirit of the work is watered down.
There isn't much plot. Arden advocates a single standard, not man's double standard that what is okay for the gander is not okay for the goose. She has an affair with her chauffeur, who inexplicably commits suicide when confronted. She then takes up with an artist (Packy Cannon), leaves for the South Seas with him, and after a time is dumped. At home she faces scandal until she decides to marry ardent suitor, Tommy. Of course Packy returns and wants her to abandon her husband and child and come away with him. The noble husband even plans a hunting accident to free her from making a decision. Of course we know that Garbo will see the light and choose husband, home and child over the unreliable suitor.
Garbo has a number of well lit close-ups here - nothing great but to her advantage. She also emotes quite well and does a decent acting job. Nils Asther is okay as Packy and dull Johnny Mack Brown is appropriately dull and adoring as Tommy.
This is the second shortest of all Garbo silents (THE KISS is the shortest). The print used by MGM/UA for its Turner assisted 1990 release to home video is (like the print used for their THE MYSTERIOUS LADY release) a very used and scratched - and in some places deteriorating - one. This is odd considering MGM/UA's other four Garbo silent video releases all make use of impeccably pure and luminous nitrate prints. It may have been that the negative and archive prints had all decomposed and they had to make due with whatever was extant, regardless of the condition. Viewers be warned that the condition of these two releases detracts from the enjoyment of the films.
This is for Garbo fans only. It was her first "modern" role and she does well. There's nothing here in terms of production design, cinematography, editing or the like to make it special, and it is Garbo's presence alone that has most probably kept this film from oblivion.
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