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An attractive woman going by the name Marguerite lives in Paris and is a courtesan, kept by the rich aristocrat Baron de Varville. When the handsome young Armand sees her for the first time, he immediately falls in love. Camille is not so easy as to fall for his charms immediately. She lives a comfortable life, after all. As she comes to have feelings for him, Armand's father intervenes asking her not to cast a shadow on his son's future prospects and she agrees. In her greatest time of need however, the loving Armand returns to her. Written by
I noted that between the play and the opera La Traviata which is adopted from Camille, there are well over a dozen filmed versions around from all parts of the globe. Still this exquisite film from Metro-Goldwyn- Mayer with its brightest star stands as the best and best known.
Through a misinterpreted glance and a smile, society courtesan Marguerite Gauthier and young Armand Duval meet at the Paris Opera. Marguerite meant to get the attentions of the imperious Baron DeVarville, but got Armand's instead.
With the revival of tuberculosis as a byproduct of the AIDS virus, today's audiences have some idea of the death sentence that Marguerite was under. She's chosen to live for the present without care or worry for tomorrow and tomorrow's bills. Impetuous young Armand thinks he has found the love of his life and so does Marguerite, but she realizes at a certain level always that it is too late.
The characters as realized by Greta Garbo and Robert Taylor will stay indelibly with you long after viewing Camille. Garbo said the role was a favorite of her's. Her performance in her voice, her body, and face capture the zest for all the immediate living she has to do.
Robert Taylor was quoted as saying that he bettered himself as an actor by just being around Garbo, that one couldn't help doing that. As Armand he made such an impression in his period clothes and his romantic lines that he became probably the number one movie heart throb in the nation.
George Cukor directed this and said of Taylor that usually the role of Armand is played by middle-aged men who look ridiculous saying those same lines. Taylor represented callow romantic youth of the 19th century and the dialog rings true when he says it. Cukor and Taylor worked again together, but future teamings were less classical than this.
Camille also helped launch the career of British actor Henry Daniell in films as one imperious and snarling villain. The man with the built in disdain in his voice, Henry Daniell essayed so many roles as a bad guy his mere appearance on the screen told you who was the villain. DeVarville, cold, haughty, and imperious was THE Daniell part and set a high standard for Daniell that he met many times in his career.
Two other players in this you will enjoy, Jessie Ralph as Marguerite's maid Nanine and Laura Hope Crews as the world's oldest courtesan. Crews is best remembered as Aunt Pity Pat Hamilton in Gone With the Wind and in Camille it's as if Aunt Pity Pat decided to open a bordello, a chic one for the upper classes to be sure.
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