This is a brilliantly done documentary about one of film's great enigmas, Greta Garbo. For me, watching this was very personal, as I was privileged to research the biography written by Barry Paris (who appears in this documentary). There are interviews with another biographer, Karen Swenson, with Garbo's friends, Sam Green, Gore Vidal, and others, a big fan, the marvelous Charles Busch, family members, John Gilbert's daughter Leatrice Fountain, Daniel Selznick, and footage of an interview with Clarence Brown. The photographs and film clips speak for themselves, for Garbo's tremendous beauty and unique acting ability. She was a totally intuitive actress.
It's a pity that, as independent as she was, that she took some bad advice, and a bigger pity that she never returned to the screen after 1941. A 1949 screen test shows her beauty untarnished, yet the producers were unable to raise money for the film they wanted to do, which devastated her.
In my own research and transcription work, I have to admit I never experienced the Garbo that her friends and family describe. The woman I got to know through transcription of taped telephone conversations and various stories about her seemed neurotic, passive-aggressive, and, frankly, kind of dull. But she was so magical on screen. This is a wonderful documentary, highly recommended.
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