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Greta Garbo

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In "Anna Karenina" (1935) the train pulls into the Moscow train station, a cloud of steam envelopes the exit of a first class car and then a woman emerges from the cloud. The figure is aristocratic, the face is a vision. But it's the eyes that enthrall the viewer and Vronsky who has expected his mother to be the first woman off the train. Bosley Crowther, New York Times film critic from 1940 to 1967, had this to say about the Garbo eyes: "Set in the face of classic structure were large, sad, luminous eyes that expressed a limited but intense emotional range". Crowther did not include this film in his short list of Garbo's major artistic achievements. His list: "Anna Christie" (1930) where Garbo "made the role of the cynical dockside ex- prostitute a thing of poetic beauty;" "Camille" (1936) where she played the Paris courtesan who had inspired novels, concertos and an opera with "alabaster loveliness;" "Ninotchka" (1939) where Garbo "demonstrated that she had the wit and flexibility to be a fine comedienne;" "Grand Hotel" (1932) where Garbo, then only 26, played a fading ballerina; and "Queen Christina" (1933) where Crowther was impressed by how she "deftly romped in masculine costumes". All of Garbo's films were in black and white and black and white enhanced her mystery and romantic allure. In real life, Garbo knew when to make her exit from Hollywood and the public eye. Her sense of timing, when to make her entrance and her exit -- perhaps she learned something from Tolstoy whose "Anna Karenina" must have been based on a woman just as real as Maureen O'Sullivan's Kitty in that film whom a man like Tolstoy won when Kitty lost Vronsky to a woman who could reveal so much through her eyes.
Greta Garbo full bio »


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