In 1860s Paris, beautiful escort Anna Sten (as Nana) falls in love with handsome lieutenant Phillips Holmes (as George Muffat). When Mr. Holmes' colonel brother Lionel Atwill (as Andre) finds out Ms. Sten is the mistress of elderly Richard Bennett (as Gaston Greiner), he forbids little brother marry the beautiful Sten, then falls for her himself. This watered-down adaptation of Emile Zola's naughty novel "Nana" was producer Samuel Goldwyn's attempt to create a new Greta Garbo - with a Marlene Dietrich song imitation thrown in for good measure. Alas, lightning did not strike up much action in theater cashiers...
Her MGM contract up, the elusive Garbo had "retired" to Sweden for several months during 1932-1933, creating the gap filled by various attempts to find a "New Garbo". Sten, who had already proved herself an accomplished and versatile actress, comes across as unable to handle the lead role. A good supporting cast, fine photography from Gregg Toland, and capable direction by Dorothy Arzner failed to create anything approaching Garbo or Dietrich. Ironically, Garbo's own "Camille" (1936) would later cover much of the territory attempted in "Nana", with Jessie Ralph (as Zoe) uttering almost identical lines.
***** Nana (2/1/34) Dorothy Arzner ~ Anna Sten, Phillips Holmes, Lionel Atwill, Richard Bennett
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