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Release of the movie was delayed because of a lawsuit Pathé brought against MGM. Although the novel by Alphonse Daudet was in public domain in the USA, it was still under copyright protection in Europe. Pathé won the lawsuit. See more »
"Isn't life always full of romance?" (the personal quote by Greta Garbo)
The Garbo's words I entailed at the beginning of my review do not only refer to an individual life that they were meant to but, more importantly, appear to resemble most of Garbo's career in Hollywood. Aren't most of her films full of romance? And that is perfectly all right when we consider this movie made at the dawn of talkies, along with ANNA Christie and ROMANCE by Clarence Brown, Garbo's beloved director. Again, INSPIRATION appears to discuss the similar theme of self sacrifice, honest feelings changing people from within, significant decisions that require courage and that lead to love that inspires and illumines life. What a classical, timeless theme of old cinema!
And...who makes INSPIRATION worth seeing is, of course, Garbo whose gracious presence in movies will always live in the hearts of her fans and classic movie buffs worldwide. Again, as it is the case with most movies she made in MGM between 1925 and 1941, her exceptional acting and glamorous photography by William Daniels leave a lasting impact on the viewer's memory. Moreover, among the supporting cast, we can admire Lewis Stone, the wonderful actor whose memorable performances I have mentioned in many of my reviews on Garbo films. Here, he is equally convincing.
And everything would seem to make way for INSPIRATION to be successful, to be inspiring for both the viewers of the 1930s and for today's classic buffs. Yet, INSPIRATION is usually mentioned as one of Garbo's least significant films. Why?
The reason for that lies in the leading man, Robert Montgomery. His role of Andre, a 24 year-old man in love with delicious Yvonne is an interesting role that could be depicted with desirable passion and memorable chemistry. Surely, that would have been not so hard for Garbo's ultimate leading man, John Gilbert, as well as for Melvyn Douglas (who played at her side in NINOTCHKA, for instance), for John Barrymore (in GRAND HOTEL), Robert Taylor (in CAMILLE) and Ramon Novarro (in MATA HARI). But it was beyond Robert Montgomery's skills and attempts. It is worse than ever with absolutely no chemistry between Garbo and Montgomery. One can say while looking at them that he is the worst leading man for Garbo, which, above all, makes their love in the plot hardly convincing. There are moments when Garbo intuitively tries to create a natural, authentic situation (because she was known to create things in acting situations galore) and Montgomery maintains fake and pathetic. Consider, for instance, their scenes on stairs that could have been so well executed.
Therefore, I think that INSPIRATION is, in no way, one of Garbo's first films that you should plan to see. It's worth for Garbo fans who know her great top movies of the 1920s and 1930s and want to see the queen of MGM in yet another role. No top movie whatsoever! 5/10
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