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Susan Lenox (Her Fall and Rise) (1931)

Fleeing her cruel uncle and an arranged marriage Susan Lenox falls in love with a kind stranger but circumstances force her to become a woman of easy virtue.


Robert Z. Leonard (uncredited)


Leon Gordon (dialogue), David Graham Phillips (novel) | 3 more credits »


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Complete credited cast:
Greta Garbo ... Helga aka Susan Lenox
Clark Gable ... Rodney Spencer
Jean Hersholt ... Karl Ohlin
John Miljan ... Burlingham
Alan Hale ... Jeb Mondstrum
Hale Hamilton ... Mike Kelly
Hilda Vaughn ... Astrid Ohlin
Russell Simpson ... Doctor
Cecil Cunningham ... Madame Panoramia aka Pansy
Ian Keith ... Robert Lane


Susan, an orphan, lives the life of Cinderella with rustic relatives. She escapes one stormy night when the fiance her relatives chose tries to force his attentions. Rodney, an architecht, is the prince who rescues her, but he has to take a trip and the wicked relatives catch up with her again. Her next rescuer is a tatooed lady in a circus who can't save her from the circus manager. Rodney shows up and dismisses her as a fallen woman. Susan moves up in the world to the penthouse of a politician who can offer a construction contract to Rodney. Rodney says no and flees to the jungle with Susan in pursuit. Written by Dale O'Connor <daleoc@interaccess.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

10 October 1931 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Rising to Fame See more »


Box Office


$572,638 (estimated)

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This film marked the only teaming of Greta Garbo and Clark Gable, when she was an established star and he a promising young actor whom the studio had just signed. Reportedly, they did not get along well, Garbo considering Gable vulgar and he seeing her as stuck-up and remote. See more »


Rodney Spencer: You took your time about catching up with me, didn't you.
Susan Lenox: It costs money and I had to work.
Rodney Spencer: Same old trade, huh?
Susan Lenox: Since I last saw you, no man has had a minute from me. Not even a second.
Rodney Spencer: You're lying.
Susan Lenox: No man since then.
See more »


Referenced in MGM Parade: Episode #1.30 (1956) See more »


Symphony No.6 in B- 'Pathétique' Op.74
First movement (Adagio)
Written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Excerpts Played as background musicduring Mike's party
See more »

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User Reviews

Helps Viewers Get Memorable Notions in their Heads...
30 January 2011 | by marcin_kukuczkaSee all my reviews

Although this film is often ignored in documentaries and facts about Greta Garbo, SUSAN LENOX foremost boasts of her magnificent, magical presence. While Garbo's filmography would surely be equally great without this film, SUSAN LENOX without Garbo would be forgotten now. Yet, it still remains one of the films of the silver screen worth viewing...in what way?

SUSAN LENOX based upon the novel by David Graham Phillips marks a significant aspect of cinematic history and of the old contract Greta Garbo had signed with MGM. Filmed in the period when the budget was considerably low, there is hardly any opulence nor grandeur. As a matter of fact, the story does not require lavishness which, meanwhile, appears more in MATA HARI (1931). Here, it seems to be enough we have Garbo...she speaks for all the merits of the film because...her performance becomes quite distinct and very genuine.

She is no longer any spy, vamp nor femme fatale but a peasant girl, Helga, a novel buff who flees from the monstrosity of hardship, from marrying a monstrous Mondstrum (Alan Hale) into the 'unknown' where she meets the love of her life, Rodney Spencer (Clark Gable). The servant Helga transforms into independent Susan. Their genuine feeling will, however, need to experience a harsh test before she will finally make him believe in her...

This is a film which, in a way, occurs to be similar to many other Garbo films because of the wonderful wardrobe by Adrian and subtle cinematography by William H. Daniels...old staff seemingly, many similarities, almost identical details. However, the major difference and a real revelation appears to be Garbo's leading man - a rising star of the time whose greatest roles were still ahead of him - Clark Gable. This is the first and the only movie where Ms Garbo plays opposite Mr Gable - what are the impressions?

According to the audience of the time and many critics, it was rather a successful pairing. MGM even prepared for the couple another project, RED DUST...yet, Garbo's answer was quite unpredictable...she refused and, as a result, she never again appeared with Mr Gable. The role was taken by Jean Harlow. And since then, the opinions have differed. People who have not been a particular fans of Greta Garbo tend to say that they are a very fine couple on screen. They even do not hesitate to say that there IS a chemistry between the 'Swedish Sphinx' and the 'King.' Garbo's fans see it a bit differently and tend to say that this pairing was not very successful. Why? Because truly the 'King' considered the 'SPHINX' a 'SNOB' while the 'Sphinx' considered the 'KING'---'WOODEN.' Anyway...

...there are some very nice moments they have together on the screen where there is wit, where there is tension and attention achieved. The scene of fishing is one of them when Rodney's lovely, charming dog called Boy comes in between them and 'a little fish'... Yet, what we find in many Garbo biographies, the two did not like each other very much...their pairing is a revelation as a fact; yet the mutual acting is flawed, in my opinion. While Ms Garbo holds a great power in MYSTERIOUS EXPRESSIVE FACE, Mr Gable holds a power of TALKATIVE LONGSTREAM CHAT. Quite diverse...

The film being not that long is a nice and a memorable cinema production thanks to some wonderful attention viewers pay to the character of Susan. The film is in no way any intense psychological insight where you would be left with many reflections (sometimes too many) but a pleasant linear story which, in the long run, becomes a nice thought provoking picture. The events of Susan, her final decision make us like her, sympathize with her and help us, unlike in Susan's cruel upbringing, get memorable notions in our heads - significant decisions, forgiveness, treatment of life as an ongoing process of changes.

Therefore, I rate this film 7/10 - despite some flaws, it is a nice choice for a calm afternoon to view once again after all these years, and let oneself be mesmerized by Greta Garbo whose screen presence is always breathtaking no matter what movie we view and what generation of movie buffs. Recommended from a Garbo fan as I am.

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