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Young Harry is in love and wants to marry an actress, much to the displeasure of his family. Harry thinks that Bishop Armstrong knows nothing about love so Armstrong tells him the story of Rita and himself. Rita was an Opera Star singing in New York who was at a party given by Cornelius. Armstrong was a 28 year old rector. He fell for Rita when he saw her and after six weeks he wanted to marry her. Naive as he was, he thought that all of Rita's "relationships" were in the distant past, but Rita lives for the moment and knows that she can never marry Armstrong. Written by
Tony Fontana <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Adapted from a Broadway play by Edward Sheldon. The original stage production of "Romance" starred Doris Keane as Rita Cavallini; it opened at Maxine Elliott's Theatre in New York on Feb. 10, 1913 and ran for 160 performances. See more »
Romance with Grateful Rita, ROMANCE with Great Greta
Although Greta Garbo in her 17 year-long Hollywood career (1925-1941) made 7 movies with the director Clarence Brown, the ones that have remained popular till our modern era of technical effects and shallow actions are only three: FLESH AND THE DEVIL (1926), ANNA Christie (1930) and ANNA KARENINA (1935). Indeed, those movies deserve appreciation since each of them carries something special deeply associated with certain moments in both MGM's history and Garbo's career. Yet, the early talkie that Garbo made soon after her introduction to sound is almost a forgotten, yet a very beautiful movie, ROMANCE (1930).
It is a film loosely based on the life of the opera singer Lina Cavalieri (1874-1944), a film in which, perhaps, not much happens, yet the one that warmed my heart on a frosty winter day. It offers everything that may be considered subtle, genuine, touching and beautiful, everything that may supply us with an affectionate journey into the old days of cinema when the cast were a true elite of artists.
Garbo was Oscar nominated for this role in 1930 along with her role of Anna Christie, but, unfortunately lost to Norma Shearer, another female star of the time whose role in "The Divorcée" occurred to be a smashing success. As an opera diva, Signora Cavallini, you may find Garbo a bit unconvincing due to her looks that purely stress a beautiful gentle woman than a "well built" opera singer. Although Signora Cavalieri might have been an exception from the stereotype, Garbo is the least convincing as opera diva. Besides, for some people, she may occur a bit overemotional due to her lines being said with the utmost dramatization. Therefore, when you look at those certain flaws and inaccuracies, one would expect a failure rather than a success. However, that was never the case with great Greta!
When you watch Garbo carefully and trust her as a viewer, you will experience something wonderful that only Garbo had. She knew the very moment when to call viewers' attention, when to change the mood and highlight desirable emotions and you get rid of all possible doubts. What is left is a pure admiration. This skill that Garbo had is something that still touches us and proves the fact that her acting was something of a genius, something you never get bored with. She had that combination of dignity and a very humane, affectionate attitude. If you decide to see ROMANCE, pay attention to the growing feelings and changing emotions that Garbo beautifully depicts. Also, her witty moments with a pet monkey and the final moment when she stands upright at the fireplace are an absolute must see. It is possible to express with words only to a certain degree but you will never describe her unless you see her. The Garbo we find here is also a great job by cinematographer William Daniels who photographed the Swedish beauty as no one else could have ever done and the subtle direction by Clarence Brown, Garbo's favorite director. It is important to state here that these were the people, except for Salka Viertel of course, whom Garbo really trusted.
Garbo's leading man is, for the only time, Gordon Gavin. He is not bad as bishop Tom Armstrong who opens a little box with a perfume of romance before a young inexperienced man, Harry, who seeks advice in a desperate situation. The scenes of Gavin and Garbo are quite stagy, there is hardly any chemistry between them; yet some moments are worth attention. For instance, don't skip the sentimental moment when Tom shows Rita the souvenirs from his childhood days that his mother kept and cherished so much. This affectionate kiss...it was for the sweet boy in the picture, not for Tom... Sweet as it may seem, the both characters have something timeless in common: both of them find the first and true love and are so grateful to each other.
I think that a mention should be made of an exceptional actor, such a characteristic mainstay in Garbo's films, Lewis Stone. Again, he does a splendid job here as Cornelius, an elegant 51 year-old man who appears to be so experienced, who seems to have lived his life and thinks that life is so simple when one is 28... How practical he appears to be when he leaves Rita with no other choice: either Tom's happiness or heartbreak. Terrific portrayal!
ROMANCE is an underrated must see as yet another example of how charming the cinema was in the good old days. Don't lose it, dear viewer, whoever you are and whatever your movie preferences are. ROMANCE is something that can warm your heart, make your day as a story of the greatest thing in the world with the greatest queen of MGM. Don't lose it for you'll not regret.
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