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This version of the Tolstoy classic lingers longer in Moscow during the weeks that follow the initial meeting of the starstruck lovers-to-be Vronsky and Anna Karenina. The story -- as it unfolds -- also focuses on Kitty, a young woman who is related to Anna's sister-in-law whose marital rift has brought Anna to Moscow. Until Anna shows up, Kitty had hopes of getting Vronsky, who is single and well connected, to propose to her. Ignored by Vronsky, Kitty turns her attention to another suitor, a man who seems to have a lot in common with Tolstoy. Written by
Dale O'Connor <email@example.com>
None But the Lonely Heart (Nur Wer die Sehnsucht Kennt)
Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky ("Romance for Voice and Piano, Op. 6. No. 6)
Sergei's theme - played often in the score See more »
I'm willing to bet that Anna Karenina was something that Greta Garbo agreed to remake because she thought she might have her same leading man again. She had done Tolstoy's troubled countess in an acclaimed silent version with John Gilbert. When Gilbert's career wouldn't rebound after Queen Christina the year before, Garbo took on Fredric March as a second choice.
It's not a bad choice, March makes a very good love 'em and leave 'em Count Vronsky. The book is nicely edited down to an acceptable movie length although it surely is better suited for a mini-series. But true to the Production Code and March's own image, he doesn't leave Anna for another woman and MGM tacks on a cop out scene at the very end where he expresses his profound regrets over the whole business.
Greta Garbo is trapped in a marriage to a career minded Basil Rathbone and is bored with the lack of romance. Along comes the dashing Count Fredric March and she leaves husband and child Freddie Bartholomew.
The whole point here is the difference in what happens. Tolstoy recognized full well the sexist frame his society operated under, but he thought it was a good thing. Women ought to know their place was his idea.
When Garbo runs off to Italy with March and then is seen publicly with him in St. Petersburg, she is shunned from polite society. March can be shed of her and his return back to his regiment is welcomed, Garbo has nowhere to go and her fate is inevitable.
Garbo captures the air of tragedy surrounding poor Anna so well, you're in tears practically the whole film. You KNOW what her fate must be yet you still watch her entranced. No wonder Anna Karenina is such an acclaimed role for her, both silent and sound versions.
Basil Rathbone is a proud member of the sexist society of Old Russia, yet his performance is also good in that you both feel his pain and hate him for not having an ounce of forgiveness for her.
Of the supporting cast, my favorite is Reginald Owen who is Garbo's brother. He's cheating on his wife with anyone in sight and then in the end HE lectures Garbo on what her duties are.
No wonder there were so many Bolshevik women.
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