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William K. Howard
Stefan and Dolly Oblonsky have had a little spat and Stefan has asked his sister, Anna Karenina, to come down to Moscow to help mend the rift. Anna's companion on the train from St. Petersburg is Countess Vronsky who is met at the Moscow station by her son. Col. Vronsky looks very dashing in his uniform and it's love at first sight when he looks at Anna and their eyes meet. Back in St. Petersburg they keep running into each other at parties. Since she has a husband and small son, they must be very discreet if they are going to see each other alone. Written by
Dale O'Connor <email@example.com>
Closing credits: "And the light by which she had been reading the book of life, blazed up suddenly, illuminating those pages that had been dark, then flickered, grew dim, and went out forever". See more »
Vivien Leigh is a charming Anna- if only Keiron Moore was charming.
I've now watched 6 Anna Kareninas (1935, 1947, 1961, 1985, 1997 and 2012) and this is up there as one of the top ones. Vivien Leigh is perfectly cast as Anna Karenina. There's just something about Leigh that suggests strength but also fragility, primness but also sensuality. She is totally believable as a sensible woman who would go silly over an affair, and believable as a fertile motherly type, frequently surrounded by children.
The object of the affair is the film's weak link- and it's a big one. Keiron Moore as the dashing Count Vronsky seems about as worldly as Anna's little son Sergei. You can sense Vivien Leigh trying to coax him into displaying some sort of dominant passion but Moore is hopelessly lost. His natural accent is Irish I think; his English accent sounds hopelessly strangled.
Ralph Richardson as Anna's bureaucratic husband Karenin is a bit too strong. He has the dominance that Vronsky should have and he displays his love for Anna too clearly. Anna is partly driven to her affair by Karenin's coldness so it makes the affair less credible. Their relationship is too loving- it often seems that there will be a reconciliation, as Leigh clearly has more chemistry with him than Moore.
Onto the supporting actors now. The Kitty/Levin story, although very pared down, is sweet and touching. Yes, they miss out all of Levin's philosophy and farming, but Sally Ann Howes is adorable as Princess Kitty, who gentleman farmer Levin hopelessly loves. It is also neatly tied together with the Anna story when Karenin goes along to their wedding- without Anna.
The film might seem a little dated but I enjoyed the focus on Karenin. There's a comic scene where Karenin goes along to a solicitors to ask about divorce and the solicitor seems a little voyeuristic. Where do I place it in the six AK films? I'm tempted to put it at number 2, just behind the Garbo one.
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