25 March 2005 | drednm
And Don't Be Stingy, Baby
Garbo's first spoken words in this 1930 film electrified audiences and became part of Hollywood legend. Garbo had become a star in her first American film, The Torrent, in 1926. And audiences waited til this film to see if Garbo could make the transition to talkies. She did. And while Pola Negri, Vilma Banky, and Renee Adoree fell by the wayside because of their accents, Garbo sailed on for another decade. Despite the staginess of this film, Garbo is really excellent, especially in the opening scene with the equally great Marie Dressler as Marthy. The two great stars trade dirty looks and sharp words as they size each other up while they have a few drinks and set the tone for the remainder of the film. Garbo was 25; Dressler was 60. Charles Bickford is OK as Matt, and George F. Marion is good as Old Chris. Marion originated this role on Broadway in 1922 and also played it in the 1923 silent version with Blanche Sweet. This Eugene O'Neill play is a true classic yet, oddly, was never filmed again. Anna Christie ranks as one of Garbo's greatest performances. And despite the staginess of the film and the grimness of the story, she is truly a marvel. See this one for Garbo and Dressler!