During World War I, Mata Hari is a German spy, working in Paris. She has already seduced the Russian general Shubin, and has now set her eyes on lieutenant Rosanov, a young up-and-coming officer. In order to get her hand on secret documents in his possession, she spends a night with him. But the secret police is on to her, only waiting to get enough evidence to arrest her. Written by
WHWN MATA HARI DANCED! Here is Greta Garbo's greatest picture---a romance based on the true life story of the exotic woman spy, Mata Hari. Truly all-star, this production will leave in mind and heart the memory of an unforgettable thrill! (original herald) See more »
While this film was in production, rumors began circulating that co-stars Greta Garbo and Ramon Novarro were having an affair. This was untrue, but they did develop a strong friendly rapport. See more »
German spy Mata Hari works in Paris during World War 1 under cover as an exotic dancer, and falls in love with a young Russian officer while she is taking advantage of him.
The script is rubbish, dialogue trite at best, and the treatment doesn't hold together well. Adrian's costumes are ridiculously improbable, but in a sinfully pleasurable MGM kinda way. You simply sit there and gape at Adrian's inventiveness and sense of kitsch. And William Daniels photographs them beautifully.
As he does his favorite subject, Greta Garbo. There is no way anyone could call Mata Hari one of the better Garbo roles, although she looks gorgeous at every turn, even in her slightly awkward Balinese dance in the beginning, all arms and legs. And still Garbo manages to be sexy! Notice the glance she sends Ramon Novarro as she draws the curtain of her bed. This was a short period in the history of Hollywood, when there was no functioning censorship, and it is always titillating to see what cinematographers, directors and stars made of it. And here they exploit it to the full.
Not a great film, not even in the Garbo canon, but still worth a watch, absolutely.
18 of 22 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?