Greta Garbo / John Gilbert / Ian Keith / Lewis Stone / Elizabeth Young / C.Aubrey Smith / Reginald Owen / David Torrence / Gustav von Seyffertitz /Art Direction Alexander Toluboff / Costume Design Adrian /Cinematography William H. Daniels /Editing Blanche Sewell / Producer Walter Wanger /Director Rouben Mamoulian
Garbo & Gilbert, briefly reunited on screen once more in Queen Christina. Her own project, green lighted by a less than happy MGM, Garbo had insisted on having Gilbert for co-star, no matter what studio lion Mayer (harbouring a deep grudge after being socked on the nose by an heroic Gilbert, after uttering crude words about Greta in an MGM bathroom) had to say on the subject. Gilbert gave up the booze on and off of set as best he could, and the old magic shone once more, though with a decidedly sad air of reflection. Their scenes hold a real sense of emotional nostalgia for the rapidly fading memories of Silent Cinema, and in this scene it is most palpable. The setting, Garbo’s bedroom, with it’s rawing fireplace, lavish fourposter, chiaroscuro lighting and underlying eroticism (those grapes are a character in themselves) transport us back to the heady days of ‘Flesh and the Devil’, and ‘The Temptress’. The real strength of the scene lies with Garbo’s incredibly restrained expressions. Those subtle, masterly glimpses of emotion that flare from a small fluctuation of the eyes, or a fraction of an upturned corner of mouth, ignite tantalising fires in the audience, before fading just as quickly. Although physically changed by his alcoholism and various other addictions that would ultimately end his life in just three years time, Gilbert is actually remarkably unaltered in spirit from those Silent years. That curious duality lends even more resonance to the emotions at play. Despite the best efforts of Garbo and another ex-lover, Marlene Dietrich, John Gilbert sank back into the shadows, and died (with something of a party filled bang) at the age of thirty-six.
They warm and ripen in the spanish sun. My Hacienda is overrun with them.
In the season of the grape harvest the air smells purple.
Ah.. to have found anyone in this wilderness would have been miracle enough..
..but to have found you.. this is too improbable.
STILLS & PROMOTIONAL SHOOTS