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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>
Greta Garbo stars with Herbert Marshall, George Brent, Warner Oland, and Jean Hersholt in "The Painted Veil," from 1934, based on the novel by Somerset Maugham. Garbo plays an Austrian woman, Katrin, who grabs at the chance to marry her father's research assistant, Walter Fane (Marshall) after her sister marries and leaves home. At first, they are happy, as Katrin gets to see parts of the world she hasn't seen. Soon, however, she becomes lonely, as Walter is busy fighting a cholera epidemic.
Katrin falls for Jack Townsend (George Brent) from the British embassy, and the two enter into a passionate affair. Walter finds out; then Katrin is humiliated when she realizes that Jack cares more for his reputation than her and does not seem willing to get a divorce. Walter insists that she travel with him as he goes deeper into China to fight the epidemic; she realizes he just wants her to get sick and die.
Garbo is incredible in this film - warm, sweet, and flirtatious in the beginning, and rising to the dramatic challenges later, she gives a beautifully layered, sympathetic, and powerful performance. Marshall is very good, as is the rest of the cast - but Garbo just walks away with the whole thing. A very unusual presence and talent, very passionate and committed. It's such a shame that she didn't pursue opportunities for films in Europe after the war.
Also, the Chinese atmosphere (totally MGM backlot) feels very authentic.
This film ends differently from the 2006 version. Though I liked the 2006 version, it lacks the magic of this one. Magic, spelled G-a-r-b-o.
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