Director Clarence Brown’s 1930 romantic drama casts Greta Garbo in her little-known and less-regarded second talkie, following Anna Christie (1930).
MGM’s unique superstar stars as Signora Rita Cavallini, an 1860s Italian opera singer, mistress of rich, married Corny Van Tuyl (Lewis Stone), and courted by young, earnest American priest Tom Armstrong (Gavin Gordon).
Garbo is entirely credible and charming – which is quite a feat in these circumstances – but unfortunately Gordon makes a weak hero and it is hardly Greta’s greatest.
It is simple, over-familiar, novelettish romantic stuff, old-fashioned and hackneyed, even in 1930, based on Edward Sheldon’s play Signora Cavallini. But it is tastefully realised by director Brown, and Garbo is as magnetic to watch as ever, lending it style and class. Their work was recognized at the 1930 Oscars with Best Actress and Best Director nominations.
Also in the cast are Elliott Nugent, Henry Armetta, Clara Blandick, Florence Lake, Mathilde Comont, Rina De Liguoro, Roy d’Arcy, Rolfe Sedan and William Stack.
It is written by Bess Meredyth and Edwin Justus Mayer, shot in black and white by William H Daniels and set designed by Cedric Gibbons.
© Derek Winnert 2017 Classic Movie Review 5321
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