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Anna Christie (1923)

A troubled young woman comes to live with her estranged father on the New York waterfront. A tough sailor falls in love with her, sparking conflict between her father and her suitor. What ... See full summary »

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, (uncredited)

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(adaptation), (play)
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Cast

Cast overview:
... Anna Christie
... Matt Burke
... Chris Christopherson
... Marthy
Ralph Yearsley ... The Brutal Cousin
... Tommy
... Anna's Uncle
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Storyline

A troubled young woman comes to live with her estranged father on the New York waterfront. A tough sailor falls in love with her, sparking conflict between her father and her suitor. What neither knows is that she has a secret that could cause her to lose both of them. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

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Taglines:

"I Think I'll be Killin' you Now!"

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Drama

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Release Date:

25 November 1923 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ана Кристи  »

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1.33 : 1
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Trivia

Adapted from a 1921 Broadway play by Eugene O'Neill. George F. Marion appeared as Chris Christopherson in the original production. The original play opened on Nov. 2, 1921 at the Vanderbilt Theatre in New York and ran for 177 performances. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. See more »

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Version of Anna Christie (1982) See more »

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Reunion with Father
2 June 2007 | by See all my reviews

"Anna Christie" (First National, 1923), a Thomas H. Ince production, directed by John Griffith Wray, from the play by Eugene O'Neill, is a story so relatively known today as Greta Garbo's sound debut for MGM in 1930, and as with most talkies, many were remakes of silent ones. While Garbo played Anna Karenina twice on screen, first in a 1927 silent (as "Love") and again in a 1935 sound adaptation, she did not originate the role of Anna Christie. That honor went to a non-Swedish actress named Blanche Sweet, whose career in motion pictures goes back to its primitive days of 1909. Appearing in a handful of shorts and feature films, almost all virtually forgotten, it's her role as Anna Christie that remains one of Sweet's most notable roles.

Much of the plot is set on a New York waterfront where Old Chris Christopherson (George Marion) receives a telegram from his daughter, Anna, whom he hasn't seen since she her childhood, that she is coming to stay with him. Aside from his sailor pals, Chris's only companion is Marty Owens (Eugenie Besserer), a prostitute as well as his mistress. Upon her arrival, Anna (Blanche Sweet) first encounters Marty at a bar before being reunited with her father. Sometime later, Anna and Chris comes to the rescue of Mat Burke (William Russell), a rough Irish seaman whose ship was destroyed in a heavy rainstorm. Mat and Chris become friends, but their friendship soon turns to rivalry once Mat starts showing romantic interest in Anna, causing Anna to reveal her troubled past that may cause her to lose the love and admiration of them both.

In comparison to the Garbo remake, this 1923 original is more detailed in regards to Anna's background as revealed in a flashback sequence not used in the Garbo movie. The flashback tells of Anna as a child, and her mother being left on a Minnesota farm by her sea loving father in the care of abusive relatives. After her mother dies, Anna, now 15, is disowned and evicted by her brutal cousin (Ralph Yearsley). She settles in Chicago where desperation has her living the life as a prostitute, causing her to become distrustful and bitter towards men to a point in saying, "Gawd, how I hate men - every mother's son of 'em." Veteran actor George Marion, who originated his role of Chris in the 1921 play starring Pauline Lord, would enact the role again in the Garbo version. The only other difference between this and the remake is that in the original, Marion's character occasionally narrates to the audience, looking over to the camera and speaking through the use of title cards. Other members in the cast of "Anna Christie" include: Chester Conklin (Tommy); George Siegmann (Anna's Uncle); Victor Potel (The Bartender); and Fred Kohler Sr (The Shipman).

Rarely seen theatrically since the 1920s, "Anna Christie" was once believed to be a long lost movie with no surviving prints in existence. An extant copy was finally discovered in Yugoslavia and restored by film department staff members of New York City's Museum of Modern Art. Aside from MOMA's sporadic revivals, "Anna Christie" served as the fifth installment on an eight week series titled "Lost and Found", presented on New York's public broadcasting station, WNET, Channel 13, during the summer months of 1978. At the conclusion of the 70 minute feature presentation that premiered July 22, 1978, host Richard Schickel has an interesting interview with its "Anna Christie" star, none other than Blanche Sweet (1896-1986). At one point during their discussion, Sweet revealed how she nearly got to appear in the sound remake before the role was handed over to Greta Garbo in a performance earned her an Academy Award nomination. Unlike Garbo, whose career extended to 1941, Sweet retired from the screen in 1930, shortly after appearing in only three feature-length talkies.

While the story and legend of "Anna Christie" remains in memory as a Greta Garbo character, the original 1923 silent did make it to video cassette in the 1990s. Unfortunately, circulating VHS copies at present does not have a musical track, something that could or should have been acquired from the distributors by licensing the piano scored edition presented on "Lost and Found." If "Anna Christie" should ever show up on television again, possibly on Turner Classic Movies where silent movies have become part of its Sunday after midnight lineup, let's hope that proper re-scoring be equipped for the enjoyment of future generations to view and rediscover the works of Eugene O'Neill and the legend of Blanche Sweet as Anna Christie. (***)


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