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In Austria, Katrin is lonely after her sister's marriage and she agrees to marry her father's research associate Dr. Walter Fane. Fane takes her to China but constantly ignors her in favour of his medical research. Lonely Katrin has an affair with Jack Townsend of the British Embassy. When it is discovered by Walter he becomes very bitter. Fane travels to fight a cholera epidemic and Katrin goes with him and helps. They grow closer together than ever before but Walter is knifed in a riot incited by the burning of a cholera infested town. Now their new found happiness will depend on Walter's survival. Written by
Gary Jackson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Married to a distracted English scientist, a beautiful Austrian finds forbidden love beyond THE PAINTED VEIL in China.
Based on a story by W. Somerset Maugham, this MGM film is soap opera of a high order, featuring excellent production values & acting. The dialogue is also refreshingly literate & thoughtful, something of a surprise in a film which might be pigeonholed as just an elaborate potboiler.
Fascinating as always, Greta Garbo is at last showcased in a film whose backdrop & setting matches her for exoticism. Enervated by the overwhelming cultural saturation of pre-war China, she seems freed to be essentially herself - shorn of all needs to bewitch - and is able to give herself over to the seriousness & drama of her character's dilemma. What the viewer is left with is one of her best performances.
The two men in Garbo's life are excellently portrayed by Herbert Marshall & George Brent. Neither characters are without faults, but the actors make them intimately human, revealing some of the loneliness in each man's heart. These actors had distinct similarities, making it something of a bold move for MGM to put them in the same film, but also enabling the viewer to understand why Garbo could love both.
Excellent support is given by gentle Jean Hersholt as Garbo's kindly father; Forrester Harvey as a happy-go-lucky embassy employee in China & Warner Oland as a sympathetic Chinese general.
Movie mavens will recognize Keye Luke as a young doctor and Mary Forbes & Ethel Griffies as British ladies in Hong Kong - all uncredited.
The Chinese scenes show MGM at what it did best - creating another world, utterly realistic, in its back lot.
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