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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 <email@example.com>
The Latest Version Has China, This Version Has Garbo
There have been three versions of The Painted Veil out and I've now seen the first and third versions. That second one with Eleanor Parker and Bill Travers came out in 1957 during the Cold War and I'm betting the plot was fitted for those times.
But the latest one with Edward Norton and Naomi Watts has the enormous advantage of shooting in China itself. It really helps the story to see exactly where and and what those doctors were dealing with. And the Chinese are the Chinese idea of the Chinese, not studio extras from Los Angeles's Chinatown. The emphasis was on the epidemic and the Chinese and their problems.
But this film has the incomparable Greta Garbo, billed here simply as Garbo. She dominates the film over her to workman like leads husband Herbert Marshall and lover George Brent. These guys were never going to steal any scenes from her.
Garbo more on a whim to see faraway places marries earnest, but exceedingly dull Herbert Marshall who is a doctor scheduled to go to China. But she bores quickly of him and gets an affair with British colonial official George Brent. Brent turns out to be a cad and then Marshall will have nothing to do with her. But a cholera epidemic comes and things work out.
The Painted Veil should have had Garbo come back and do this story again in 2006 on location in China. Even Naomi Watts wouldn't dispute Garbo being a better actress, who can compete with a legend?
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