Camille (1936) Poster

(1936)

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10/10
BEAUTIFUL in the very meaning of this word
Marcin Kukuczka18 September 2005
"Perhaps it ill be better if I live in your heart, where the world can't see me. If I'm dead, there will be no staying of our love."

The novel/play by Alexandre Dumas Fils LA DAME AUX CAMELIAS has attracted a lot of artists. Verdi wrote his opera LA TRAVIATA basing its content on this play. The film industry have also made a lot of adaptations of the play from the period of silent era up till modern times. However, if one hears a movie title CAMILLE, what usually comes to one's mind is the film by George Cukor with Greta Garbo and Robert Taylor. Why? There is something magical about this version that made it stand a test of time, something that helped it be appreciated for almost seven decades. Is it performances, cinematography, or Garbo's presence that make it so enchanting to watch? The answer is not so easy because the movie is a masterpiece of beauty at multiple levels.

The performances are absolutely outstanding. It is difficult to say if Garbo gives her best performance in CAMILLE or GRAND HOTEL. I think that it is more a matter of personal preferences. One thing is sure - she does something more than acting. She totally feels the role, every movement, every gesture is extremely natural as if you were watching reality not a movie. As a result, Garbo achieves something really outstanding in CAMILLE, some kind of the ultimate masterpiece of performance. Robert Taylor very well fits to the role of Armand Duvall. He manages to stress the most important feature of his role - delicacy and sincerity. Henry Daniell is a perfect choice for Baron De Varville - cruel, unemotional, cynical, and very selfish. I shall never forget the scene when Marguerite plays a lyrical piece on the piano expecting Armand's visit. However, it is Baron who comes unexpectedly. While Armand is trying to get to the house, Baron plays the piano and Marguerite has to behave as if she wasn't expecting anyone. The scene ends with hysterical laughter of them both and a magnificent acting. Laura Hope Crews also gives a lovely performance as Prudence Duvernoy stressing her frivolity and extravagance. Consider her performance at the party at the mansion. Yet, Lionel Barrymore, though not given much time on screen, is memorable, particularly in the scene of his meeting with Marguerite. What a lovely presentation of two different world views! Not a better or a worse view but DIFFERENT views - Marguerite attached to love and emotions and Monsieur Duval to social ties and reputation.

The cinematography is superb. Almost each scene has a "soul" which makes watching the movie a real admiration of beauty. The most memorable decorations are in the scene in a candle-lit boudoir filled with delicate lighting and shadows. Marguerite is looking at her reflection in the mirror and suddenly notices Armand from behind. A delicate classic musical piece is being played in the background. UNFORGETTABLE! The film's gorgeous imagery is a very strong point for the movie.

Perhaps, you will wonder why I praise this movie so much. But if you asked me if I can ever forget CAMILLE, my answer would be "never" because the imagery of this movie and the effect it has on a viewer is endless. How is it possible to forget a beautiful scene of Marguerite's first meeting with Armand? Is it also possible to skip a lovely idyllic pastoral sequence with sheep and flowering trees? How to forget a touching moment when Gaston, Marguerite's true friend, is putting a beautiful bunch of camellias at her side while she is lying ill in bed? Finally, the touching final shot and Marguerite's beautiful words that I entailed at the beginning of my review. These words, which purely refer to spiritual love, are the last words that Marguerite says.

Yes, CAMILLE is a masterpiece, one of the very few movies that promotes real beauty. It is not only a tearjerker. It is not only a story of love. It is a movie that teaches high respect for precious values in life. 10/10!
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10/10
The very purpose of movies.
WOverly041 October 2005
Maybe it helps to be a romantic. But for my money, this is the greatest romance that was ever put on film. It has the perfect stars. Greta Garbo was the star of the age--any age--still beautiful and absolutely created to act in films. Even in silent films, her acting is measured and understated. She never falls prey to exaggeration nor pretense. I think that is the secret to her effectiveness. Allow me an example: after accepting money from Baron de Varville for a disguised outing with her lover Armand (which the Baron already suspects), she kisses him gently on the cheek only to be reviled with a harsh slap from the baron, who then departs. The camera moves in on that incomparable face. The head slowly lowers, the lips slightly part, a low moan expresses the guilt, shame and humiliation which momentarily consume her. Then she spies the money clutched tightly in her hand. Recognizing she now has the means to escape with her lover, a slight smile emerges reflecting her change of mood and restored joy. It is a scene like no other.

As for her co-star, Robert Taylor was castigated as being too callow for the role. In fact, most critics today realize he was exactly what Dumas intended: young, impressionable--and certainly irresistibly gorgeous in his dewy youth. That beauty often caused the young Taylor undeserved venom from the critics. He was a very capable actor and probably set the standard for the contemporary romantic leading man we see even today. Rumors that Garbo dismissed him as unimportant are not true. She liked him very much and was greatly impressed after he sent her mother flowers when they all attended the premiere of CAMILLE in Stockholm.

CAMILLE? A great movie with a great cast, including the marvelous Henry Daniell, whose Baron de Varville is very Jekyll and Hyde. I encourage anyone to see it. It is one of the finest films of the 20th Century.
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10/10
Subtle, sublime studio fare
tsarevna10 May 2004
This film further proves that the assembly-line system of Hollywood studios back then should also be taken seriously in terms of artistry. Just because movies were produced run-of-the-mill doesn't mean that they weren't paid critical attention to by their makers. The usual impression on studio-era Hollywood is: take a formulaic narrative style, maybe adapt a stage play for the screen, blend in a handful of stars from the stable and the films rake in the profit at the box office. Not quite, that's the easy perception. George Cukor, another of those versatile directors, made it apparent with Camille that filmmaking as an art may still flourish despite (and even within) certain parameters. Camille is beautiful, in so many respects. And it's not just because of Greta Garbo.

Sure, the acting is amazing, the casting is perfect. Garbo is luminous, mysterious, cruel, and weak at the same time. Robert Taylor surrenders himself to be the heartbreakingly young and vulnerable Armand. Henry Daniell's coldness and sadism is utterly human and familiar. The others are just plain wonderful. The writing contains so much wit and humor, devotion and pain - but it never overstates anything. The rapport and tensions between lovers, friends, and enemies are palpable and consistent. The actions flow so naturally, just like every scene, that checking for historical inconsistencies seem far beside the point.

There is so much that I love about Camille that it's hard to enumerate them all, but with every little discovery comes the realization that this is "but" a studio production, so it makes the experience more exquisite. Camille is a gentle, poignant romantic movie that, like Garbo, takes its place delicately and self-effacingly in the history of American cinema, but makes itself indelible in the heart and mind of the lovelorn individual viewer.
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10/10
Sublime Garbo; Exquisite Production
drednm5 June 2005
When you think of the lavish 30s films of MGM, Camille is near the top of the list. Great story and flawless production here boasting perhaps the most shimmering of Greta Garbo's ethereal performances as Marguerita Gautier (Camille). Familiar and much filmed story, this is nevertheless the best of them all. Matching Garbor is the hopelessly romantic Robert Taylor in his best 30s role. Also good are Lionel Barrymore, Henry Daniell, and Jessie Ralph as the maid. Great comic relief is provided by Laura Hope Crews (Prudence)and Lenore Ulric (Olympe)--what a pair of vultures! But the center of this gorgeous film is Garbo. She is so frail looking, her voice so soft. Garbo plays Marguerite as a frailty incarnate. She never overacts the part as most do with the endless coughing and fainting. One of George Cukor's triumphs. Rex O'Malley and Elizabeth Allan are dull but have small parts. I also spotted Eily Malyon and Zeffie Tilbury, and Joan Leslie is listed in the credits. I think this is Garbo's best performance, but she lost the Oscar to Luise Rainer for The Good Earth. Also nominated that year: Irene Dunne (The Awful Truth), Barbara Stanwyck (Stella Dallas), and Janet Gaynor (A Star Is Born). Wow----how could you choose just one?
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9/10
Marguerite and Armand
bkoganbing3 December 2005
I noted that between the play and the opera La Traviata which is adopted from Camille, there are well over a dozen filmed versions around from all parts of the globe. Still this exquisite film from Metro-Goldwyn- Mayer with its brightest star stands as the best and best known.

Through a misinterpreted glance and a smile, society courtesan Marguerite Gauthier and young Armand Duval meet at the Paris Opera. Marguerite meant to get the attentions of the imperious Baron DeVarville, but got Armand's instead.

With the revival of tuberculosis as a byproduct of the AIDS virus, today's audiences have some idea of the death sentence that Marguerite was under. She's chosen to live for the present without care or worry for tomorrow and tomorrow's bills. Impetuous young Armand thinks he has found the love of his life and so does Marguerite, but she realizes at a certain level always that it is too late.

The characters as realized by Greta Garbo and Robert Taylor will stay indelibly with you long after viewing Camille. Garbo said the role was a favorite of her's. Her performance in her voice, her body, and face capture the zest for all the immediate living she has to do.

Robert Taylor was quoted as saying that he bettered himself as an actor by just being around Garbo, that one couldn't help doing that. As Armand he made such an impression in his period clothes and his romantic lines that he became probably the number one movie heart throb in the nation.

George Cukor directed this and said of Taylor that usually the role of Armand is played by middle-aged men who look ridiculous saying those same lines. Taylor represented callow romantic youth of the 19th century and the dialog rings true when he says it. Cukor and Taylor worked again together, but future teamings were less classical than this.

Camille also helped launch the career of British actor Henry Daniell in films as one imperious and snarling villain. The man with the built in disdain in his voice, Henry Daniell essayed so many roles as a bad guy his mere appearance on the screen told you who was the villain. DeVarville, cold, haughty, and imperious was THE Daniell part and set a high standard for Daniell that he met many times in his career.

Two other players in this you will enjoy, Jessie Ralph as Marguerite's maid Nanine and Laura Hope Crews as the world's oldest courtesan. Crews is best remembered as Aunt Pity Pat Hamilton in Gone With the Wind and in Camille it's as if Aunt Pity Pat decided to open a bordello, a chic one for the upper classes to be sure.
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10/10
Camellias
jotix10028 September 2005
Alexander Dumas fils, the author of "La dame aux camelias", created a powerful novel that has been made into an opera, "La Traviata", as well as a play and this film just titled "Camille". The story of Marguerite Gautier, the famous Parisian courtesan has moved audiences since it first came out in France.

George Cukor seems to have been the obvious choice for directing this adaptation of the book. Mr. Cukor had a great eye for detail, as well as for guiding his female stars into performances that defined a lot of careers in the movies. He was not strange to working with the divine Ms. Garbo, and their collaboration in this film seems to have been a match made in heaven.

The film clearly belongs to Greta Garbo who, as Marguerite Gautier, runs away with the film. This seems to be a role tailor-made for the star. It's without a doubt one of her best screen portrayals. Ms. Garbo clearly understood this woman, who is tormented into resigning the man she loved when his father comes to her to ask the famous courtesan to have pity on his family and to let the young man go free.

The selection of Robert Taylor to play Armand Duval was a coup for the studio and for the production. Mr. Taylor, who went to be one of the favorite stars at MGM exuded charm and seems to have had no problems playing opposite Greta Garbo. In fact, Robert Taylor contribution to the film is enormous.

This film has always been a perennial favorite among fans of Greta Garbo. We remember seeing it at MOMA with a rapt crowd that applauded so loud at the end of the screening for what seemed to be forever.

The supporting cast is excellent as anything that was assembled by MGM. Lionel Barrymore is seen as Monsieur Duval, Armand's father who pleads with Marguerite to let his son go. Henry Daniell plays the Baron de Varville with great style.

William Daniels was the cinematographer. He clearly understood how to photograph Ms. Garbo and he is at his best in this film. The great art direction by Cedric Gibbons shows what this man was capable of doing. The screen play shows such names as James Hilton, Zoe Akins and Frances Marion among the writers.

"Camille" is a film that will live forever thanks to the luminous Greta Garbo and the inspired direction of George Cukor.
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7/10
Garbo and Taylor are both great, if still a hair stiff in their transposition to 1800s France
secondtake12 April 2014
Camille (1936)

This melodramatic tale of true life in the face of the strictures of social reality is tried and true. You feel for both the male lead (Robert Taylor, who is quite good) and the female (Grate Garbo, of course, who is excellent). That's the whole point. These are two people who are not quite appropriate because they come from different social levels, but there is a sense they could make it work if they wanted to.

But outside forces get in the way. Chief among them is the man's father, who wants to save his son from a marriage that will ruin both husband and wife. This is a key role in the film, and a critical if brief 10 minutes or so. The father is played, importantly, by Lionel Barrymore, who does little else int he movie. But here he makes his case to the Garbo with amazing force. It's a great scene, even if you wish Garbo would leap up and say, no, no, I'm going to follow my heart.

But exactly what happens is what the movie is about. The rules of the culture of the time (1800s France) prevent an honest sense of two people marrying out of simple love for one another. In a way, that's the whole point of continuing the old Dumas story, which has resonated for decades into the Hollywood era. I'm not sure it would work now, except as an historical drama. This is set in the period (around 1850) and feels legit. Unlike the curious (and not bad) 1921 silent version, which sets it in a 1920s culture, this one transports us back to the original. Fair enough!

There is a contrived quality to the plot, for sure, partly because of its origins. While this doesn't ruin the whole enterprise, there is a slight feeling of being led along the whole time. Garbo and Taylor are both terrific, however, and we feel some honesty to their feelings for one another. It's on that basis that the movie works. And it really does, even through the over the top drama in the last scene. Moving and beautiful overall.
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the great Garbo
didi-54 May 2004
The luminous Greta Garbo in one of her best remembered roles. In this she is the tragic heroine who is dabbling with fate with Robert Taylor (who seems to be wearing more make-up than Greta!) while moving towards the inevitable weepie conclusion.

Certainly Garbo was best in these kind of other-worldly roles, in another place and time, than she was in the few contemporary features she attempted. Not a great actress, but a beautiful woman and a true star who the camera clearly loved. Taylor would move out of romances and musicals into more typically heroic roles by the end of the 1930s, but he's a good romantic lead here.

And I mustn't forget the pleasure of seeing Henry Daniell, one of Hollywood's greatest villains.

Filmed with the commonplace MGM gloss of the time, ‘Camille' delivers on all levels - if you're looking for an escapist, teary, film with lots of close-ups and a nice slow pace. It belongs square in that first decade of the talkies and this sort of thing fell out of fashion after the Second World War.
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Typical Garbo vehicle...richly detailed romantic drama...
Neil Doyle28 June 2002
Most Greta Garbo fans rank this as her finest work--and it probably is. Not only is she highly competent in the title role, but the supporting cast shines just as brightly--everyone from Laura Hope Crewes to Henry Daniell to Lionel Barrymore. And Robert Taylor is the ideal romantic hero at the peak of his darkly handsome good looks. He and Garbo make a wonderful pair.

George Cukor's direction is full of richly observed details of behavior, never flinching from the occasional coarseness of the characters. All of the technical work is above reproach and those familiar with the story of the Lady of the Camelias will not be disappointed. Lionel Barrymore makes a brief but effective appearance midway through the film. His scene with Garbo is delicately played and gives added credence to Garbo's nobility in letting her lover go.

Biggest drawback is the film's pace--some editing may have helped--but the final result is still impressive.
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9/10
"Afraid of nothing except being bored"
Steffi_P21 March 2010
The great literary romances of the late nineteenth century, despite perhaps being presumed today to be models of propriety and principle, were more often than not frank tales of adulteresses and prostitutes. When many of these great works were adapted for the screen in the 1930s, the most natural choice for a leading lady was often Greta Garbo, than whom there was none finer at portraying such fallen women as noble and tragic heroines.

Garbo was one of the cinema's great natural performers, and in her day was probably the most genuine person to have graced the screen. She brought something to these roles not only because she was dangerously beautiful, but also because she was irresistibly human. Even when her character lied to her lover she could make us sympathise with her motives, as well as understand why the lead man was so enamoured of her to be taken in. In Camille, she brilliantly captures the conflict between Marguerite's strength of character and her physical frailty. Her occasional coughs and lapses into weariness are so neatly understated, but in a way that makes us accept that she is fighting against them rather than that they are insignificant.

Whether Garbo's professionalism rubbed off on others, or whether it was the intensely personal direction of George Cukor, Camille also features some superb performances from what could have been a disappointing supporting cast. Lead man Robert Taylor (who once described acting as the easiest job in the world) was generally little more than a handsome but wooden matinée idol, and yet here the youngster pulls off his part like a pro. True, for the first hour of the picture he is simply a handsome, grinning mug, but when his character is required to display some emotional depth he steps up to the task. Henry Daniell and Lionel Barrymore were both shameless hams, but here they are at their most restrained, without losing any of their trademark qualities. When you compare Daniell in Camille to his other performances, it's like seeing the real person that a caricature is based on.

While the sincerity of the cast certainly helps to give Camille its emotional intensity, it is the direction of Cukor which gives it its pace and watchability. Cukor's cinema is all about movement, and he has a hundred tricks up his sleeve, each using motion to draw our attention or set tone. Take Garbo's big scene with Barrymore. The two of them are essentially just wheeling around a small room, but Cukor keeps his camera up fairly close, emphasising their almost constant changes in position. This gives an unsettling, desperate quality to the scene, even giving the impression that Barrymore is chasing Garbo. At other times such rapid change would be distracting, especially if the scene contains a lot of important information, but Cukor still uses subtle shifts in perception to keep the narrative feeling fresh and meaningful. For example in the lengthy episode at the opera where we meet the principle characters for the first time, Cukor uses the fuzzy glow of the stage as a backdrop for the first meeting between Garbo and Taylor, and the blandness of the box for the equivalent encounter with Daniell.

Both the acting and the direction here are purely cinematic, the former glamorous yet honest, the latter unobtrusively guiding the audience with the moving image. And yet it takes away none of the integrity of Alexander Dumas fils' novel. And so this final nod is to the hidden hand behind the screen - producer Irving Thalberg. Thalberg's aim was never simply to make a fast buck; he wanted to leave high quality product behind him. It seems that pictures like Camille are what he always aspired to - ones that harnessed all the faculties of the medium, yet were as prestigious and culturally significant as any classic play or novel. This was among his last productions, and he died before it was released, but it is undoubtedly a worthy asset to his legacy.
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8/10
Excellent classic romance with a divine Garbo
Jem Odewahn1 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Classic romantic drama with the one and only Garbo. She is the tragic Parisian courtesan Margeurite Gaultier, slowly dying of consumption yet briefly enlivened by a doomed love affair with Armand Duval (Robert Taylor). It all ends in tragedy as Garbo sacrifices her happiness and ultimately her life by spurning Taylor with a lie that she has lost interest in him. Cue one of the greatest deathbed scenes in film history as Garbo dies in a weeping Taylor's arms.

I really enjoyed this film. Having read Dumas' novel a few years ago (I cried bucketloads), I was very impressed with this adaptation. Garbo and Taylor are both perfectly cast. Garbo is at once girlish and worldly, sickly yet so alive, giddily joyful and tragic. It is a marvellous performance and shows just why the actress is so transcendent. Taylor is also very good, not "wooden" at all as the very handsome, naive, idealistic and so young Armand. Henry Daniell plays the villainous Baron who wants Garbo for himself. He is very effective in the role, yet I've always found Daniell to have a rather sexless quality so its hard to imagine him physically wanting any woman. Laura Hope Crews and Lionel Barrymore are also in supporting roles. The film has some wonderfully romantic dialogue and scenes. The rollicking, coarse lifestyle of Margeurite's friends is nicely juxtaposed with the bucolic countryside scenes in which Taylor and Garbo snatch a tiny piece of happiness. Very romantic, and very satisfying for the most part, even if is a bit slow paced at times.
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9/10
Lush, Romantic Classic with Garbo at Her Peak
dglink12 November 2005
A gorgeously produced romance, in the best sense of the term, "Camille" is a prime example of the type of film that causes viewers to lament "that they just do not make them like this anymore." Of course, how could a film like this be made again? The incomparable Garbo is gone, as are director George Cukor, producer Irving Thalberg, studio-mogul Louis B. Mayer, the Metro Goldwyn Mayer sound stages and back lot, and even the Hollywood studio system.

Fortunately, the fruits of the old studio system live on, and those who love the movies can still relish such gems as "Camille." With George Cukor guiding her performance and William Daniels lighting her face, Greta Garbo never looked better or had a finer role than Marguerite Gautier. The word "luminous" is often over used, but it is appropriate here to describe how Garbo literally illuminates the screen with her presence throughout the film. From her flirtatious scenes early in the film to her final days, where her skin seems to have taken on the translucence of death, she dominates the movie.

With few exceptions, Garbo has little competition on screen. Henry Daniell is outstanding as the Baron de Varville, whose villainy is obscured by a gentlemanly veneer and great wealth. Laura Hope Crews shamelessly tries to steal her scenes as the selfish Prudence, and Jessie Ralph holds her own as the maid. However, while he certainly looks the part, Robert Taylor does not have the emotional depth to be a convincing love object for a woman of Garbo's dimensions. The cruel strength of Henry Daniell made him a more equal partner for Garbo than the love-smitten Robert Taylor. The imbalance was repeated from Garbo's film of the previous year, "Anna Karenina," in which again a strong, if overbearing, Basil Rathbone matched Garbo in a way that the indecisive Frederic March did not.

Despite any small reservations, "Camille" remains a fine example of the best of the Hollywood studio system in its Golden Era. The sumptuous art direction and lavish costumes indicate the high production values of the period for an A-list film for one of MGM's most valuable stars. Well adapted from a literary work by a team of writers that included James Hilton, the movie is matchless entertainment. While "Camille" was likely produced as a "woman's film," Garbo and Cukor broadened the film's appeal and elevated their work to classic status.
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5/10
Who Decided Garbo Was a Great Actress?
evanston_dad19 January 2006
An icky, weepy melodrama from George Cukor, "Camille" is nothing less than an excuse for Greta Garbo to die in gauzy, extreme close-up. Everything about this movie is suffocating: crowded, plush interiors; thick, syrupy score; Garbo's talking-with-a-mouthful-of-mud accent. I guess from a technical standpoint it's a well made movie, which is why I'm giving it as high a rating as I am. Cukor could always be counted on to make competent movies, and obviously some funds were spent on this lavish affair. However, I just can't imagine how anyone could care about this story or could be affected by Garbo's hammy death bed scene. I know I was supposed to feel heartbroken that Camille was dying, but instead I was just looking forward to her being dead.

Grade: C-
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6/10
It Was Alright
gavin69422 May 2013
A Parisian courtesan (Greta Garbo) must choose between the young man who loves her and the callous baron who wants her, even as her own health begins to fail.

I watched this because I am a fan of the camera work that Karl Freund did, but I do not know which was his and which was William Daniels. So to try and even make an intelligent critique seems impossible, and I will not even try.

The film as a whole is a great update on the older (1921) version, and far more watchable if you are not a fan of silent films. I am a bit surprised how few adaptations there appear to be, given how long the play has existed. Unless they just go under other names to be confusing...

There is some talk online about who is better, Greta Garbo or Barbara Stanwyck. I am a Stanwyck fan, but hey, I am not going to say Garbo did a bad job here. She nailed it.
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10/10
Transcendental performance by Greta Garbo
blanche-216 February 2007
Greta Garbo is "Camille," in the 1936 MGM film directed by George Cukor and also starring Robert Taylor, Henry Daniell, Lionel Barrymore, Laura Hope Crews, Jessie Ralph, and Rex O'Malley. Based on the Alexandre Dumas fils novel/play LA DAME AUX CAMELIAS, it is the often told story of the tubercular Marguerite Gautier, a courtesan, and the young man, Armand Duval, with whom she falls in love, only to have to give him up so he can fulfill his promise and take a respectable place in society. Verdi based his very famous and constantly done opera, "La Traviata," on the Dumas material. During the film, themes from the opera can be heard throughout.

Though the libretto of the opera sticks closely to the words spoken by Marguerite and Armand, the opera's story is slightly different. One difference is that Armand (Alfredo in the opera) learns from his father the reason that Marguerite (Violetta in the opera) gave him up, where in this version, he doesn't seem to know about it; the other is that in the opera, Duval Sr. asks Violetta to sacrifice her life with Armand for the sake of Armand's sister, who is about to be married.

MGM pulled out all the stops for this film; the production values are glorious. Adrian's costumes are absolutely magnificent, and Garbo is a vision in them. This is Garbo's greatest performance. Though a neurotic, shy, and not a terribly exciting woman in real life (for the book "Garbo" by Barry Paris, I transcribed something like 100 hours of phone conversations she had with art gallery owner Sam Green) she had an amazing, vivid imagination and could transport herself in performance to create effective characters that are larger than life. Added to that ability is her unique beauty, her slim figure, and her beautiful speaking voice. She is a perfect Marguerite - vulnerable, passionate, full of humor, generous, joyous and melancholy. Marguerite's death scene is classic. Her face is never more beautiful or serene as in those last scenes, and even after repeated viewings, it tugs at the heart.

Garbo is surrounded by an excellent cast, including Henry Daniell as the Baron, her cruel lover/financial resource; Laura Hope Crews as a loud, silly old courtesan; Jessie Ralph as Nanine, Marguerite's loving caretaker; and Rex O'Malley, who does a beautiful job as Gaston, a gentle and kind friend to both Marguerite and Armand. This role is very small in the opera. It's a much better part here, and O'Malley makes a great impression.

Lionel Barrymore's performance as Duval Sr. has been criticized as being melodramatic, and it's true that he does refer to Marguerite as "Margaret," but in my opinion, he comes off well and restrained in a role that, unlike Gaston, is actually smaller in the film than it is in the opera.

Robert Taylor was 24 or 25 when he played Armand. Like most of the absurdly handsome men in films, he was dismissed by critics as a pretty boy who had no acting ability. It isn't true. He handles some sappy lines very well because he says them sincerely, and he portrays an innocent and romantic quality in the face of Marguerite's worldly ways. Two things trip him up, neither of which is his fault - he's about two or three years away from true handsomeness, which would have made him a little less callow in appearance; secondly, the makeup man really slipped with the pancake, the powder, and the eyebrow pencil. He's wearing entirely too much makeup, which is a distraction and - I mean, this is Robert Taylor we're talking about - totally unnecessary. The makeup should have been directed toward making him slightly less beautiful and more handsome. A bigger problem than both of those is that when he's in a scene with Garbo, there is very little chemistry between them. As a performer, Garbo often stood alone and wasn't what one would call an ensemble player, and she rather overpowers him.

A gorgeous movie, one of the most romantic films of all time starring an enigmatic woman who was a goddess among the Hollywood goddesses. Once World War II hit, the types of roles she excelled at would no longer be popular, and she would find herself retired at the age of 36 to walk and wander the world, no longer in films, but never forgotten.
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10/10
Garbo is so, so beautiful and Taylor is so, so in love, your heart will ache for him.
mamalv15 February 2005
This may truly be one of the most beautiful love stories ever produced for the screen. Greta Garbo was never more beautiful and Robert Taylor was never more magnificent as the tormented lover Armand Duval. Garbo never rose to more convincing heights as this, her best role ever. His love for her has no shame, even after she leaves him, because his father played by Lionel Barrymore, tells her she will eventually ruin him if he stays, he can't forget her. Henry Danielle as the Baron is sinister, and calculating as the jilted lover who she only returns to, to make Armand believe her. When Armand confronts Marguerite in the gambling hall, and she asks him to please leave before there is a confrontation between him and the Baron, he clings to her, falling in desperation to her feet, begging her to leave with him because his love is pure and un- selfish, she again rejects him. He is furious, and calls everyone in the room to watch him humiliate her, throwing all his money in her face. I think this scene is probably the best performance Robert Taylor ever gave in his youth. He is quite striking!

The choice of Robert Taylor for the role of Armand was a stroke of genius for Cukor. He exudes the innocence of the character, where other actors of more experience would have been lost to the role. There is a sweetness to Armand that makes us believe he could love this woman. Garbos transition from kept woman to a woman in love, is believable because of the lack of sophistication of Armands character. I can't think of any other love story that has the staying power of this one. Seventy years after it arrived at theaters it it still the best of all.
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6/10
Technically well-made, but this film hasn't aged well
MartinHafer20 December 2006
While I am a huge fan of the films of Hollywood's Golden Age, I not especially impressed by this classic film. Most of this, I think, is that the film hasn't aged well. The extreme melodrama and over-acting sat fine with early audiences, but today it just seems awfully silly and campy. While Greta Garbo's performance is at times way over-the-top, my biggest problem actually was the character played by her very ardent suitor, Robert Taylor. Despite very little apparent reason, he is totally smitten with a woman who is essentially a high-priced prostitute and chases her repeatedly even though she gave every indication through the first half of the movie that she was a heartless skank. As a result, Taylor just looked like a very pretty wimp--not the sort of man that anyone in the audience could respect. Only after being lied to and emotionally abused did he finally show some backbone--but by the end of the film, this had once again vanished and he was back to being a wimp. I sure would have liked to have Jimmy Cagney handle this role--he wouldn't have put up with it or chased after Garbo like a moon-eyed puppy! Now back to Garbo. While I have always felt that her performances have aged poorly (she was so often given scripts that were too formulaic and melodramatic), I must admit that the times in the movie when she needed to cry, she was incredible. This is especially true in the side shot of her as you see tears almost shooting from her eyes--that is great acting. But, then to have her droop around for so much of the film with what appeared to be TB detracted from the overall effort. It just seemed a bit overdone.

The same day I saw this film, I also saw the silent 1921 version starring Nazimova and Rudolph Valentino. For 1921, this style of film was perfect, but even by 1936, it must have caused a few groans among the patrons since the plot was definitely getting very old indeed. The only HUGE improvement in the 1936 film was the role played by Lionel Barrymore as Robert Taylor's dad--it was much more sensitive and compelling than the character in the earlier film and did a lot to give the story life.

The bottom line is that if you don't particularly care for old movies, this movie will probably be very dull and tough viewing. If you love old films, you might be able to look past its style and enjoy the picture--at times I could do this, but frankly there are just so many better romances out there.
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7/10
Heavy melodramatic love story
nnnn4508919126 July 2006
Time has not been good to Greta Garbo's most acclaimed performance.She's quite good as the courtesan of 1840's Paris,but I found her acting a bit melodramatic. Robert Taylor has the looks and youth to make his character believable.I enjoyed the performances of scene-stealers Laura Hope Crews and Henry Daniell tremendously. The production is beautiful and I enjoyed this romantic film a lot. It is very melodramatic, almost to the point of becoming laughable,but director George Cukor manages to keep the balance. For those of you who like dreamy romances the movie is recommended.I'm glad it is finally released on DVD.
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10/10
I wish I could give this film an 11, it was so beautiful!
TheLittleSongbird16 March 2009
Camille could top the Elephant Man for the most moving film of all time. Everything about this movie is beautiful, the acting, the cinematography and one of the saddest endings on film.

The story is wonderful, based on a work by Alexandre Dumas Junior. The opera La Traviata also happened to be inspired by the story, and I noticed a number of similarities between this film and the opera, like the death scene, and when Armand insults Margherite(throwing money in her face, like in the opera).

The cinematography and costumes were gorgeous, and an example of French extravagance, despite the fact that Camille was made in the 30s. The music, especially in Margherite's death scene, was so hauntingly touching. Through the music, we felt the romance between Armand and Margherite. Also Margherite's death is the most heart-rending death ever on screen, whether in romance or a biographical drama.

The performances were exceptional. Greta Garbo was the movie. The whole movie is worth watching just for her performance, which was more than outstanding. This movie was referenced in the 1982 musical Annie, which was where I got introduced to the movie. Robert Taylor, I usually find a bit dull, but I felt a great much-needed restraint here, in possibly his best performance. Everybody else was great as well, particularly Lionel Barrymore as Monsieur Duval.

In conclusion, a beautiful and inspired film, so worth watching for Garbo's performance and her character's death. Believe me, it is a million times better than most of the rubbishy sentimental romantic dramas out now, and that's a fact! 10/10. Bethany Cox
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6/10
Perhaps Garbo's finest performance.
Boba_Fett113823 May 2008
Basically Garbo is still the only reason why I still like this very heavy handed melodramatic movie.

"Camille" is a movie about the all old themes love and death. The one moment it's happy and the world is a wonderful place, while the other life is depression is it ever could become. It's an movie with constantly changing dramatic moods and tones in the movie, which just becomes a bit too much for me after a while. I can handle and appreciate heavy dramas but when it's being overly melodramatic it becomes more of an annoyance to me, also since it starts making more and more a staged impression.

It's a fine looking movie with its sets and costumes and George Cukor of course is more than a capable director. So basically it's a very well made movie but it's story and the way it progressed made me not really like this movie.

I guess it's a good story on its own right though, also since there are a total of 47 movie versions based on the novel and play "La dame aux camélias" by Alexandre Dumas fils, which is more than any other novel I have ever heard of.

It might very well be true that this movie features Greta Garbo's finest performance. It was also her personal personal favorite one. She plays her role with both class and emotion and above all keeps her role real and humane. The best and most powerful and classic moments of the movie all feature her. Her acting still makes this movie worthwhile and an interestingly watchable one.

Watch it for Garbo.

6/10

http://bobafett1138.blogspot.com/
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6/10
Death among the flowers.
Robert J. Maxwell6 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
What can you say about a thirty-one year-old woman who died? That she was carefree, gay, romantique? That she danced divinely? And why not -- she was played by the divine Greta Garbo? That she was invented (or refashioned) by the son of the guy who wrote "The Three Musketeers"?

That she captured the attention of the meta-handsome Robert Taylor? That Robert Taylor's real name was Spangler Arlington Brugh? That she suffered from one of those diseases that are periodically romanticized? That in the 1960s it might have been schizophrenia but in 1847 Europe it was tuberculosis? That tuberculosis, like pregnancy, was supposed to transfigure a woman's beauty? That it was believed to make her thin, pale, waif-like, alluringly enervated?

That Dumas fils book was so successful he dramatized it and Verdi turned it into an opera? That in Charles Jackson's 1944 novel "The Lost Weekend," the protagonist watches this movie and is moved to tears by it? That the author of that novel was bisexual? That the director of this movie was gay? That Truman Capote sneaked into Garbo's New York apartment and reported to The New Yorker that one of her abstract paintings was hanging upside down in the vestibule? That Truman Capote was gay? That Garbo's most devoted fans probably contain a disproportionate number of gay guys? That that last generalization strikes even me, its own author, as a little Olympian?

That Greta Garbo always struck me as a little beefy? That here she does a good job of acting casually reckless? That these tragic love stories in which someone -- usually the woman -- dies a death that we don't see as disfiguring are getting a little tiresome? That I'm still struggling to recover from Erich Segal's "Love Story" of 1970? That the first sentence of "Love Story" is, "What can you say about a 25-year-old girl who died?"

That Robert Taylor had about ten years during which he tried to act from a position other than "default," which was snarling, masculine, a little coarse? That in "Westward the Women" he even gets to use a bull whip on a dozen ladies who are pulling his Conestoga for him?

The answer to these questions is obvious and clear. I don't know.
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10/10
World-Weary Courtesan Learns About Love
LadyJaneGrey16 February 2006
No one suffered for love as beautifully as Garbo. It was the hallmark of her screen persona. For good reason; she did it brilliantly. I did find myself marginally distracted by the frou-frou costumes and hats on the modern-looking Garbo. Nonetheless, it's a mark of her talent that she was able to transcend whatever silliness was strapped on her head and provoke genuine emotion.

Garbo plays Marguerite Gautier, Dumas's consumptive courtesan, to perfection. It is Paris, 1847, and Marguerite lives for the moment, without care for what tomorrow may bring, considering the inevitable death sentence she lives under. As she says, "When one may not have long to live, why shouldn't one have fancies?" She lives off of rich men like the Baron de Varville, whose attentions she hopes to capture at the theater. Instead, she entrances Armand Duval, the callow youth whom she dismissively sends for candy before disappearing with the Baron.

Nonetheless, Duval meets her again three months later and returns to her the handkerchief she had dropped at the theater, mentioning humorously he had already eaten the candy. Through his persistence, Marguerite, despite not believing in love and living the fast, glittering life with a succession of men, finds herself falling in love with the earnest, impressionable Armand. Why can't they run away together, be together always, Armand asks. He'll take care of her. Marguerite knows that time will be short and uncomfortable at that on Armand's resources. But she lets herself be persuaded, gives up the Baron, and moves to the country to a house Armand has found for her. When he wants his modest inheritance in order to support her, his father (the incomparable Lionel Barrymore) arrives at the country house in Armand's absence to persuade the dying Marguerite to give his son up for the sake of his future, his reputation, his family. She says to him, "Anything I do, I do for him." She finally realizes what it means to truly love someone, and the scene where she determines to make him hate her is utterly heartbreaking.

Armand sees her later at a casino in the company of the Baron and contemptuously pelts her with money for all to see. Betrayed love hurts, and Taylor portrays it well.

Marguerite, abandoned by the Baron, becomes progressively more ill, coughing in a ladylike fashion, languishing amongst her worn silken pillows. Her friend Gaston fills her empty purse with money. Prudence (Laura Hope Crews) drops by hoping to borrow money from the clearly destitute and dying woman, who generously offers whatever is in her purse. Prudence is happy to accept, leaving her some francs and swirling out, oblivious. Crews, most famous for playing the twittery Aunt Pittypat in Gone With The Wind, is in her element here, her tremendous bosom swelling out of her gowns, smoking cigars, cackling, attending the kind of soirees Aunt Pittypat would have the vapors over.

Armand is finally alerted to how desperately ill Marguerite is. She is so happy at the prospect of seeing him, she asks her maid to help her brush her hair, put some rouge on, get into a chair, but there's no time for any of that. Armand and Margurite reunite, and he holds her in his arms as she takes her dying breath. Perfection! Cukor certainly knew how to wring the emotions.

I found Robert Taylor perfect in this role. He looks so young, all of his features so round, feminine almost, whereas Garbo's features are so angular, with the lean boyish body common today but not so much then. The physical contrast between them works in the film's favor, as a visual representation of the differences in their characters.

The supporting players here are also spot on, including Lenore Ulric as the empty-headed, conniving Olympe and Henry Daniell as the mean Baron de Varville.

Personally, my favorite Garbo performance is Ninotchka or Queen Cristina, but this one is not to be missed. The part could have been written for Garbo, so perfectly did she portray doomed love. The Camille story is seen as somewhat hackneyed today, but Garbo and Taylor make it fresh 70 years on.
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8/10
The best of Garbo performances
Warning: Spoilers
Garbo just shines here and is so believable as the wonderful Camille and reflects all sides of her character, even the vulnerable. The death bed scene would take tears from a stone, it is so wonderfully rendered with Garbo hanging on to the thought that she could still live, that she is not dying.Robert Taylor is dashing and convincing as the man in love with her and also the scene with Lionel Barrymore who plays his father is truly touching where Garbo gives up the man she loves. 9 out of 10. Garbo deserved an Oscar for this, it is her best.
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9/10
Greta Garbo is the star
Sameir Ali3 October 2016
The amazing performance of Greta Garbo is just enough to watch this movie. We can see a sick, weak and beautiful lady as the protagonist. She was Oscar nominated for the Best Actress in a Leading Role. Camille is said to be the favorite movie of the actress.

All other actors, Robert Taylor, Lionel Barrymore etc. are perfect in their cast.

Director George Cukor has done a great job in making the movie a very interesting Romantic Drama. The movie will remain in your heart for ever.

Camille is highly recommended for those who are looking for great movies.

Sameir Ali
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