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Mata Hari
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Benjamin Glazer (by) and
Leo Birinsky (by) ...
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Release Date:
26 December 1931 (USA) See more »
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 »
A semi-fictionalized account of the life of Mata Hari, an exotic dancer who was accused of spying for Germany during World War I. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
User Reviews:
What's the Mata with Hari? See more (30 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Greta Garbo ... Mata Hari

Ramon Novarro ... Lt. Alexis Rosanoff

Lionel Barrymore ... General Shubin

Lewis Stone ... Andriani
C. Henry Gordon ... Dubois
Karen Morley ... Carlotta

Alec B. Francis ... Caron
Blanche Friderici ... Sister Angelica (as Blanche Frederici)
Edmund Breese ... Warden

Helen Jerome Eddy ... Sister Genevieve

Frank Reicher ... The Cook-Spy
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Mischa Auer ... Firing Squad Victim #3 (uncredited)
William Bailey ... Dubois' Aide (uncredited)
Roy Barcroft ... Extra (uncredited)
Reginald Barlow ... Prosecutor (uncredited)
Frederick Burton ... Major at Executions (uncredited)
Harry Cording ... Ivan (uncredited)
Cecil Cunningham ... Lady Gambler Selling Ring (uncredited)
Gordon De Main ... Ambassador's Aide (uncredited)
Maude Turner Gordon ... Madame Durand (uncredited)
Anthony Jowitt ... Young Officer, Mata's Admirer (uncredited)
Isabelle Keith ... Party Guest (uncredited)
Sarah Padden ... Nursing Sister Teresa (uncredited)
Lennox Pawle ... DiSignac (uncredited)
Michael Visaroff ... Jacques (uncredited)

Directed by
George Fitzmaurice (uncredited)
Writing credits
Benjamin Glazer (by) and
Leo Birinsky (by) (as Leo Birinski)

Doris Anderson (additional dialogue) and
Gilbert Emery (additional dialogue)

Produced by
George Fitzmaurice .... producer
Irving Thalberg .... producer (uncredited)
Original Music by
William Axt (uncredited)
Cinematography by
William H. Daniels (photographed by) (as William Daniels)
Film Editing by
Frank Sullivan (film editor)
Art Direction by
Cedric Gibbons 
Costume Design by
Adrian (gowns)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Cullen Tate .... assistant director (uncredited)
Art Department
George Fitzmaurice .... continuity drawings supervisor (uncredited)
Alexander Toluboff .... continuity drawings supervisor (uncredited)
Sound Department
Douglas Shearer .... recording director
James Brock .... sound (uncredited)
Fred Morgan .... sound (uncredited)
Paul Neal .... sound (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Milton Brown .... still photographer (uncredited)
Clarence Sinclair Bull .... still photographer (uncredited)
A. Lindsley Lane .... second camera operator (uncredited)
William Riley .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Albert Scheving .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Eugene Joseff .... costume jeweller (uncredited)
Other crew
B.P. Fineman .... supervisor (uncredited)
Frank Hansen .... assistant: Ramon Novarro (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
USA:89 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Australia:G | Australia:PG (DVD rating) | Finland:K-12 (1990) | Finland:K-16 (1932) | Norway:16 (1932) | UK:A (original rating) | UK:PG (re-rating) (2006) | USA:Passed (National Board of Review) | USA:Approved (PCA #5419-R, July 1939 for re-release) | USA:TV-PG (TV rating) | West Germany:12 (f)

Did You Know?

Major Thomas Coulson's 1930 book, "Mata Hari: Courtesan and Spy", piqued interest in turning it into a movie, but an MGM executive said that no one book was the basis of their movie. Mata hari translates to "eye of the day" in Indonesian (and Malay), and is the most common word for "sun" in those languages. Censors of many cities required cuts in the movie, which was typical of many pre-code films. When MGM applied to the Hays Office for a certificate in 1936 for re-release, it was refused. However, a certificate was issued in 1939, when the movie was re-released.See more »
Andriani:A spy in love is a tool that has outlived its usefulness.See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in Garbo Talks (1984)See more »
Two GuitarsSee more »


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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful.
What's the Mata with Hari?, 8 July 2012
Author: lugonian from Kissimmee, Florida

MATA HARI (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1931), directed by George Fitzmaurice, is more of a showcase for Greta Garbo in the title role rather than a biographical study on the legendary female spy of World War I. Having already played a lady spy in the silent melodrama, THE MYSTERIOUS LADY (MGM, 1928), this particular stature and situations that occurred are nothing new here. By contrast, from fictional to actual character portrayed, this is a somewhat improved story overall, scripted by Benjamin Glazer and Leo Birinski, and highlighted by interesting casting of Mexican actor, Ramon Rovarro, in support.

Opening title: "In 1917, war-ridden France dealt summarily with traitors and spies." Traitors and spies are demonstrated in the opening scene as DuBois (C. Henry Gordon), chief of the spy bureau, gives orders at the firing squad the execution of three traitors, the third being a condemned man (Mischa Auer) refusing to reveal any information about a notorious woman, Mata Hari, who happens to be a great threat to France. Mata Hari, a spy working under secret orders for Adriani (Lewis Stone), is known for hypnotizing and seducing military officials for secretive information, and DuBois's mission is to gather enough evidence to have her arrested and executed. DuBois suspects General Serge Shubin (Lionel Barrymore) to be involved with Mata Hari, but, too, is unsuccessful in gathering evidence against him as well. After getting together with his friend, Lieutenant Alexis Romanoff (Ramon Novarro) of the Russian Interior Air Corps, Serge invites him to come to the café and watch an exotic dancer perform. The dancer is Mata Hari (Greta Garbo). Although Serge is romantically involved with Mata Hari, Alexis becomes interested and soon involved with her, causing friction on their friendship after Alexis finds Mata Hari alone in Serge's apartment. Her seductive ways has Alexis falling under her spell again, enough lose the important documents entrusted to him meant for the Prime Minister over to Mata Hari. After Alexis becomes blinded in an airplane accident, Mata Hari, realizing her love for Alexis, puts herself in great danger for betraying Adriani, committing murder and having DuBois hot on her trail.

The screen version, reportedly loosely based on Mata Hari herself, is no doubt tailor made for Garbo's talents as well as MGM's answer to Marlene Dietrich's fictional World War seductive female spy of X-27 in DISHONORED (Paramount, 1931). Faster paced than her previous early sound efforts (1930-31), Garbo appears much more relaxed in the role and very much accustomed to the new medium of "talking pictures" by this point. MGM reliables of Lionel Barrymore and Lewis Stone (both of whom became standard players in many Garbo films over the years) add to the amiable support, along with the Mexican-born Novarro playing a Russian pilot. Somehow Novarro does better than expected, without making any attempt speaking with a Russian accent. Being the only pairing of Garbo and Novarro, MATA HARI turns out to be the only Novarro film produced during his MGM sound years (1929-1934) to have any distinction. His mustache, dark hair and fleecing eyes in one scene come as a reminder of another popular MGM leading man, John Gilbert, who might have tackled the role of Alexis had it not been for his lack of successful box office appeal he once earned in the mid twenties. Others in fine support are Karen Morley playing Carlotta, the dark-haired spy working under orders of Adriani; Alec B. Francis as Major Caron; Blanche Frederici and Helen Jerome-Eddy briefly appearing as Nuns; Frank Reicher as the Cook/Spy; and Edmund Breese (The Warden).

Notable scenes worth mentioning include Mata Hari getting Alexis to make passionate love to her. Before he does, she alluringly talks him into proving his love for her by turning out the continuous burning candle of the Holy Lamp of Madonna (a patron saint to guard him from evil); and the stalking of Mata Hari by Jacque, a club-footed giant (face unseen).

Of the many major MGM feature film releases of 1931, this and THE CHAMP starring Wallace Beery were once notable exceptions as those to have continued revivals on broadcast television in the New York City area through the mid to late 1980s before making its way to cable television, notably Turner Network Television (1988-92) and Turner Classic Movies (1994-present). Distributed on video cassette and later to DVD, MATA HARI continues to become one of the most notable and worthwhile Greta Garbo films, along with "Queen Christina"(1933), "Anna Karenina"(1935), "Camille" (1936) and "Ninotchka" (1939) all of which she was born to play. As much as the Novarro films from this period are virtually forgotten to today's generation, his legend rests simply on his silent screen performances of both BEN-HUR (1925) and THE STUDENT PRINCE (1927), along with the one notable movie where he was "just wild about Hari." (***1/2)

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