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While at a ski lodge, Larry Blake sees instructor Karin Borg and decides to sign up for private lessons. The next thing he knows, she is Mrs. Blake. When he announces that he is going back to work on his magazine in New York the next day, Karin refuses to go with him. She later comes to New York, buys expensive clothes, and goes to meet him when she sees he is with old flame Griselda. Caught by Blake's business partner, O.O. Miller, before she can leave, she explains that she is really Karin's twin sister Katherine. Hard to believe, but that is what she tries to make everyone, including Larry, believe. Larry, however, has serious doubts, but plays the game to the hilt as the worldly Katherine tries to take him away from both Griselda and Karin. Written by
Tony Fontana <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The legends surrounding Geta Garbo were like so many deifications, partly true, partly fiction. When Garbo was good, she was very, very good, but when she was bad, she was only average. In "Two-Faced Woman," Garbo assays comedy one more time following her success in Ernst Lubitsch's classic farce, "Ninotchka." This time she nearly falls flat. Garbo's one redeeming feature in the film is the outlandish dance she performs midway through the show. It is indeed a marvel to behold and worth the price of admission.
Almost all the other Thespians in "Two-Faced Woman" out shine the star, especially Constance Bennett, giving a wonderful personification of an acerbic bitch determined to keep her hooks in fresh meat. The gifted actor Melvyn Douglas shows his flare for comedy in a Cary Grant-type role, fun to watch in a slap-stick finale down a ski slope. The indomitable Ruth Gordon makes the most in a small role as Douglas' secretary. Bennett's former "Topper" colleague, Roland Young, is perfect as, again, a lecherous old man. Future TV "Topper" star Robert Sterling shows why he was chosen to portray George Kerby over a decade later.
Another problem with "Two-Faced Woman" is the hackneyed story and script. Director George Cukor hoped to strike pay dirt a second time with a screwball comedy along the lines of his brilliant "The Philadelphia Story," utilizing a title similar to his recently successful "A Woman's Face." Unfortunately, he was let down by the writers, who gave him a theme already old hat. Bedroom farces involving mistaken identities, twins and lookalikes, etc., were passé by 1941. The popular Fred Astair, Ginger Rogers musicals of the 1930's employed such gimmicks in a fresh and original manner. The twins ploy of "Two-Faced Woman" just doesn't work.
Karin Borg (Garbo), a ski instructor, meets and falls in love with Larry Blake (Douglas), a magazine writer. Following a whirlwind courtship that lasts only a few days, the two decide to tie the knot. Once married, however, their varied lifestyles clash. Larry spends most of his time in New York City away from Karin, who refuses to follow him, enjoying the life she already has. Distraught by visions of being two-timed and having her marriage canned, Karin heads for New York City, ending up incognito as her non-existing twin sister, Katherine. That Larry tends to be a philander becomes more evident as Karin sees her husband with other women, one in particular, Griselda Vaughn (Bennett). Katherine finds herself in the dubious position of competing not only against Griselda but against her own alter ego, Karin.
Perhaps the shortcomings of "Two-Faced Woman" helped Garbo in deciding to retire from motion pictures. She never made another film. Though "Two-Faced Woman" is not a dud, it is below standards Garbo had set for herself.
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