Classics From Criterion: THE RULES OF THE GAME (1939)

This is a dual posting in conjunction with Kristina at Speakeasy!  Be sure to go and read her thoughts on this film here.

Way back in January I made a list of ten films that I wanted to see in 2105.  On that list was THE RULES OF THE GAME from Jean Renoir.  I had just purchased a copy at the Criterion Sale and wanted to see what made this one of the greatest films ever made, or such was the claim on the back of the box.  Well, here it is many months later and the next Criterion Sale is back on and I still hadn’t seen this film!  Luckily my Dad and Kristina both expressed an interest in watching and that gave me the push I needed!

Before we proceed please be warned that I will be talking about the end of the film.  I really want to share some thoughts about this film and the ending and thus it will be necessary to have spoilers.  There will be a warning at the point where you should stop reading if you don’t want to know!

My Dad and I settling in to watch...
My Dad and I settling in to watch…

Just outside of Paris the daring young aviator Andre Jurieux (Roland Toutain) has just made a risky flight and is the toast of the city.  He is greeted at the airport by his friend Octave (Jean Renoir), but is noticeably disappointed as the only person he wanted to see there is nowhere to be found.  He is looking for his love, Christine (Nora Gregor, who is the wife of Robert, Marquis de la Cheyniest (Marcel Dalio).  Bitterly hurt at this betrayal, as Christine is the entire reason why he undertook his latest flight, Andre denounces her publicly on the radio.  This is overheard by Christine, her maid Lisette (Paulette Dubost), and Christine’s husband.

A moment to explain the relationships.  Andre loves Christine.  Christine has been married to her husband for three years.  For about five years Robert has been seeing Geneviève (Mila Parély).  Christine’s affair with Andre is known by her husband and Lisette, but Robert’s affair is only known by Lisette.  Lisette has been married for two years to the gamekeeper of the estate, Schumacher (Gaston Modot), but is much more devoted to Christine and carries a great affection for the family friend, Octave.  Octave is Andre’s friend and is also aware of Christine’s affair with him, as well as being aware of Robert’s affair.  Octave also was friends with Christine’s father and has known Christine since she was a child.  All clear?

Christine and Robert discuss Andre’s words on the radio and profess their devotion to each other.  At this point Robert excuses himself to go and call his mistress.  He tells Genevieve that he must see her the next day.  When they meet Robert insists that he must end their relationship but Genevieve isn’t giving in that easily.  She refuses to go quietly and Robert finally decides that the best move is to invite her to a weekend at the country house with him and Christine.

Meanwhile Christine is having problems of her own.  Andre is still hurt by her refusal to come to the airport and she doesn’t know what to do.  Octave reassures her that he will take care of everything.  By that he means that he will convince Robert to invite Andre to the country home for the weekend, inferring that Andre and Genevieve can meet and start a relationship together thus making everyone happy.  And so it is the Octave, Christine, Robert, Lisette, Genevieve, Andre, and a large assortment of friends and relations head off to the country for a weekend.  While checking the grounds one day, in an attempt to get rid of rabbits, Schumacher and Robert find Marceau (Julien Carette).  Marceau is a poacher and he has come to check his snares.  Schumacher is all in favor of throwing Marceau out on his ear but Robert has taken a liking to him and decides to promote Marceau to domestic and get him a job at the country house.  In order to rid the estate of rabbits and other pests, Robert holds a “hunt” in which very little hunting takes place.  In fact it is mostly a “shoot”.  Schumacher and other servants serve as beaters and drive the animals out of the forest into the waiting gun sights of the guests.  It is a massacre of all sorts of wildlife and the guests shoot until they lose interest, at which point they simple walk away leaving the carcasses as someone else’s problem.  It is on the way back to the house that Christine first sees evidence of the affair that exists between Robert and Genevieve.

At this point you will most likely want to stop reading if you want to avoid spoilers!  

The festivities of the weekend continue at the house, complete with a masquerade ball and several skits put on by various guests.  At the same time Lisette is running around with her newest love interest, Marceau, much to her husband’s dismay.  And Andre has decided that he wants Christine to leave Robert and come away with him.  Christine has decided that she wishes to declare her love for Andre, though she instantly regrets it and doubts her own feelings.  While Andre and Robert come to fisticuffs over Christine, she slips out into the garden with Octave.  Lisette meanwhile is chasing after her husband as he tries to shoot Marceau through party guests.  Andre and Robert stop fighting long enough to work together to deal with Genevieve who has become hysterical over the fact that EVERYONE loves Christine and NO ONE seems to love her, not even Robert.  That and she is slightly drunk.  Once Genevieve is safely packed off to her bed, Andre and Robert talk like men and Robert gives his blessing to Andre.

Outside Octave and Christine talk about many things, eventually making their way to the greenhouse.  Once inside Christine and Octave admit their love for each other and make plans to run away together.  Unbeknownst to them, they are being watching.  Schumacher and Marceau, who have both been fired for their parts in the evening’s gunplay, are hiding in the bushes.  They have mistaken Christine for Lisette, as she is wearing her maid’s cloak.  They see Octave run off to the house, to gather his coat and hat and get Christine’s coat so that they might run off together, and decide to wait until he comes back.  Schumacher has decided that he must kill Octave rather than allow him to have who he presumes is his wife.  Once in the house Octave is stopped by Lisette who seems to know what he is trying to do.  While he is talking with her, Andre appears and demands to know where Christine is.  Resigned to his fate to always be the friend and never the lover, Octave tells Andre to go to the greenhouse.  Before he goes Octave gives him his coat to keep him warm.  Andre runs off into the night and is gunned down by Schumacher.  When the truth of the tragedy is revealed Octave and Marceau drift away into the night, shocked by what has transpired.  While Christine is escorted into the house, Robert makes a brief speech and concludes that they will all take their leave tomorrow and remember the young man who died in a tragic accident, when the gamekeeper mistook him for a poacher.

There are so many things to talk about with this film.  There is the fact that this film was widely disliked and banned after its release.  There is the fact that it was almost lost entirely due to the war, the bans, and the bombing.  There is also the troubled and difficult shooting and casting that took place.  Days go by and I still find myself thinking about this film.

Renoir wanted to make a film about the attitudes he saw in the people around him before the start of World War II.  Renoir said “…what is interesting about this film, perhaps, is the moment when it was made. It was shot between Munich and the war, and I shot it absolutely impressed, absolutely disturbed by the state of mind of a part of French society, a part of English society, a part of world society. And it seemed to me that a way of interpreting this state of mind, to the world hopefully, was not to talk of that situation, but tell a frivolous story…”  This is a film about people who are so wrapped up in their own lives, so deeply selfish and self-absorbed, that they can not even begin to comprehend the catastrophe that is approaching.  No mention is made of the war in this film.  No mention is made of any tensions in Europe.  All that is mentioned in this film are the stories and relationships of these people and their friends.  All their lives take place in a bubble, little games played by little people following rules that have no place in the greater world.  And perhaps that is the point that Renoir was making.  At one point in the film a character says “…Put an end to this farce!” and I almost feel that this was Renoir himself saying this, a plea into the ether hoping someone would hear and take notice.  There is something farcical about the worries and concerns of these rich men and women with the approaching darkness from Germany.  How can they care about such silly things as parties and affairs when so much more important things are happening?  But then maybe this is why the film was so poorly received upon release and why it was banned in France and later Germany.  The same refusal to see the truth that is present in these characters, the same inability to look outside of themselves and see the world was also present in the movie going public of 1939 and Europe.

The hunting scene is probably the most famous in the entire movie.  While some people believe that it symbolizes the killing to come during the war,  I tend to think as some others do that the scene is in fact a representation of the callousness and lack of compassion and awareness present in the characters of the film.  The people have a sense of entitlement so naturally why wouldn’t the animals be brought to them to kill?  Why should they have to go out and find the game?  Why should they have to try?  And not only is it the slaughter that is so startling, but the lack of concern for the dead animals when they are done.  While other hunters would go and gather the carcasses for food or furs, these people simply turn and walk away leaving them there to rot.  This scene appeared to be to be recalled in Andre’s demise.  Like the animals chased by the beaters, Andre is blindly led to his doom running full force into the waiting gun of the gamekeeper.  And his death and body are treated with the same careless and cavalier attitude as the dead rabbits, squirrels, and pheasants.  No one is any more concerned for him than they were for the vermin they murdered that morning.  But then again, he was just a poacher wasn’t he?  Trying to take Robert’s wife from him and worst of all, not following the rules of the game.

Announcing The William Wellman Blogathon

I recently read the fantastic biography of William Wellman and found myself so inspired by the life and films of this great American director that I decided to do something about it!  More to the point, I decided to host my very first blogathon!

Announcing The William Wellman Blogathon!

Love WINGS?  Does WESTWARD THE WOMEN get your heart beating?  Want to talk about THE OX-BOW INCIDENT?  Think that Gary Cooper owes quite a bit to William Wellman and want to share your thoughts?  Go for it!  You can write about anything and everything related to William Wellman, his life, his films, and his career.

Now for the nitty gritty!  This event will run from September 10-13, 2015.  I am not assigning days for posts so feel free to post any time during the event.  Duplicates are fine so pick any topic you like!  Also, this is my first time hosting a blogathon and I am going solo so please let me know if I have forgotten anything or if you have any questions.  When the event goes live please be sure so send me a link to your posting either through email, twitter, or posting a comment to the event post on this blog.  I want to make sure you get all the credit you deserve!

So now you are itching for the chance to join in the fun!  How do I sign up, you may be asking.  Why it is very simple!  Just leave me a comment below letting me know your topic of choice and a link to your blog.  You can also tweet at me or send me an email (nowvoyaging [AT] gmail [DOT] com) with the same information.  Once you have done that feel free to take one of the fabulous banners, that Fritzi of Movies Silently has so kindly designed for the event, and post it all over the blogosphere or at the very least your corner of it!  I am so excited to host my first blogathon and I hope you will join me!


Roster

Now VoyagingLady of Burlesque 

SpeakeasyYellow Sky

Movies SilentlyThe Boob

Silver ScreeningsThe Ox-Bow Incident

CineMavenSafe in Hell and Beggars For Life

Shadows and SatinLilly Turner

StardustWings

Old Hollywood FilmsThe Public Enemy

Sister CelluloidFrisco Jenny

Criterion BluesA Star Is Born (1937)

Once Upon A ScreenThe Purchase Price

Silents And TalkiesHeroes For Sale

The Stop ButtonMagic Town

A Shroud of ThoughtsBeau Geste

Twenty Four FramesThe Ox-Bow Incident

Immortal EphemeraWild Boys of the Road

Movie Movie Blog Blog Nothing Sacred

The Motion PicturesWilliam Wellman; The Stanwyck Collaborations

That Classic Movie LifeThe Call of the Wild

Critica Retro Nothing Sacred

Caftan WomanGoodbye, My Lady

Laura’s Misc MusingsWild Boys of the Road

Moon In GeminiWestward The Women

Second Sight CinemaSafe In Hell

Portraits By JenniThe Story Of GI Joe

Pre-Code.ComCollege Coach

Girls Do FilmOther Men’s Women

Vitaphone DreamerA Star Is Born (1937)

The Movie RatNight Nurse

Comet Over HollywoodBattleground

Movie ClassicsThunder Birds

In The Good Old Days Of Classic HollywoodThe Great Man’s Lady and It’s A Big Country

Wide Screen WorldSo Big

Pop Culture ReverieThe Happy Years

Mike’s Take On The MoviesIsland In The Sky

Back To Golden DaysThe Iron Curtain

Barry Bradford – The Story of GI Joe

Noir GirlLove Is A Racket

Serendipitous AnachronismsRoxie Hart

Phyllis Loves Classic MoviesBlood Alley

The Cinematic FrontierWings

Defiant Success – The Ox-Bow Incident

Nitrate DivaBeggars of Life

Louise Brooks Society – Beggars of Life

Wolffian Classic Movies DigestRoxie Hart

B Noir DetourLady of Burlesque

Mildred’s Fat BurgersTrack of the Cat

Cinema Dilettante – Midnight Mary

Losh-Man’s Hollywood ClassicsAcross The Wide Missouri

Spellbound By MoviesMaybe It’s Love

Grand Old MoviesThe Next Voice You Hear


Banners (Thanks Fritzi!)

william-wellman-blogathon-bill

william-wellman-blogathon-beau-geste

william-wellman-blogathon-ox-bow

william-wellman-blogathon-wings

2015 Summer Reading Classic Film Challenge: GOOD STUFF; A REMINISCENCE OF MY FATHER, CARY GRANT

This post is part of the 2015 Summer Reading Classic Film Challenge hosted by Raquel of Out Of The Past. Find out more about this event here and stayed tuned all summer for more reviews!

A few weeks ago my husband presented me with a bag of birthday presents.  He had taken the time to go out and search for some classic film related books for me, a not so easy task as anyone who collects books or classic film related items will attest.  In amongst the other gifts was this book, GOOD STUFF.  I was intrigued as I knew that Cary Grant became a father late in life but had never read anything much about that child.

That child is Jennifer Grant, daughter of Cary Grant and Dyan Cannon.  Although her parents divorced when she was very young, she still managed to spend a great deal of time with her father especially when her mother was away on a film set.  Cary Grant retired from the film industry when Jennifer was born in order to spend more time with her and be there to raise her.  At the time this book was written Cary Grant had been dead for about twenty years.  It is apparent in reading Jennifer’s reminiscences that this devastating event still is as clear and affecting as if it happened yesterday.  In fact she makes mention at the beginning of the book that her therapist suggests that she write about her father, ostensibly to help her work through her grief.

What follows then are short chapters, almost vignettes, in the life of Cary and Jennifer Grant.  Remembering the happy times with her father, the “good stuff”, Jennifer allows us a brief glimpse into a part of Cary Grant that many have never seen or even considered.  We get to see him as a husband and more importantly, as a father.  He delighted in his daughter and saved everything she touched practically.  He was also constantly videoing or recording their lives and Jennifer quotes these recordings often in her book.  Yes, in some places the praise of her father and his love for her might seem a little heavy handed but then why shouldn’t it be?  This is not a book written by a scholarly biographer but rather a love note written from a daughter to her father.

GOOD STUFF is not a typical biography, nor is it an unbiased and scholarly look at the life of one of the greatest actors of all time.  But then I don’t think that it is meant to be.  The sense I got from this book was that it was cathartic for her to write it.  In an effort to work through the grief of losing her father, Jennifer Grant wrote this book.  She wrote it in an attempt to say one last good-bye and I love you to her father.  So, if you are looking to find a book about Cary Grant’s entire life or one that is completely factual and neutral in its portrayal of the former Archie Leach then I would urge you to look elsewhere.  Jennifer never knew that part of her father’s life and he was reluctant to speak of it, preferring to leave it in the past, so she cannot speak to it in her book.  But if you are looking for a personal, private, almost stream of consciousness look at Cary Grant the man and father then this is the book for you.  In remembering her father, a man who was her biggest fan and greatest support, Jennifer Grant talks only about the “good stuff” and how can we blame her for that?

Girl Power! Joining Another Blogathon!

Oh how I thought I would hold off on joining blogathons for a little while.  Oh how wrong I was.

HOW could I resist this newest blogathon?  There is no way!  Fritzi of Movies Silently and Jo of the Last Drive In are putting together a blogathon of girl power…The Anti-Damsel Blogathon!  I will be posting about WESTWARD THE WOMEN, because how could I not?  I am super excited for this blogathon and can’t wait to see what the other participants have in store!

Spending Time With Turner Classic Movies: THE CRASH (1932)

This summer has been so chocked full of things to do that I have been remiss about posting about some of the films that I have seen.  I did manage to watch three films from my list (Ten Films for 2015) including MILDRED PIERCE and YANKEE DOODLE DANDY, but I haven’t been able to sit down and blog the way I would like to.  So allow me to remedy that by talking about THE CRASH from 1932, a recommendation from Kristina of Speakeasy.

In the later part of the 1920s, Linda Gault (Ruth Chatterton) uses her feminine charms to help get stock tips for her financier husband, Geoffrey (George Brent).  She carries on affairs with various men of power in the banking world and returns home with insider trading information.  Linda has decided to end her affair with one such banker, John Fair, seeming to grow tired of being used and abused in this way.  However Geoffrey has other plans and begs Linda to charm John once more at a party, hoping for more information about the state of the stock market.  Linda is hurt, feeling betrayed by Geoffrey’s cavalier use of her assets and his lack of concern for her.  Perhaps it is because of this that she is unable to fool John Fair into believing that she is still in love with him.  John refuses to part with any insider secrets but when Geoffrey asks Linda what she has learned she tells him a small lie that will destroy everything.

The market crashes soon after, causing Geoffrey and Linda to loose everything.  Linda has feared this event, having spent her childhood in deep poverty.  Not wishing to live in a manner other than that to which she has become accustomed, Linda convinces Geoffrey to allow her to go to Bermuda with a letter of credit.  She promises to return once Geoffrey regains his former wealth and glory.  This begins to take much longer than either of them expected and Linda becomes bored.  Never one to sit around at home, Linda soon meets Ronnie Sanderson (Paul Cavanagh) an honest-to-God Australian sheep rancher.

Linda and Ronnie begin spending a lot of time together and Ronnie falls in love with Linda.  He often asks her to come away with him but she refuses believing that Australia will be “boring”.  But that all changes when she finds out that Geoffrey has lost everything and her maid has stolen her pearl necklace.  Soon Linda must return to New York and to Geoffrey to not only get her necklace back, but to get a divorce as well.

This was an interesting little film for sure.  Being a pre-code it packs quite a bit into a very short run time and the story definitely moves.  Not too much time is spent building up character background but there is still a good sense of Ruth and Geoffrey’s relationship.  George Brent is quite good as the husband who clearly loves his wife but has no idea how to get the large amounts of money needed to keep her happy, aside from using her to get insider information.  He doesn’t want Ruth to leave him to go to Bermuda, fearing what will become of him once she is gone and not around to help him.  He loves her deeply, and surprisingly even though he has pushed Linda to have affairs in the past he never suspects her of having an affair on her own.

Ruth Chatterton is an interesting combination of fierceness and defeat.  She loves Geoffrey but is tired of using herself to get information.  She feels cheap and worthless being the mistress of so many men with nothing but encouragement from her husband.  The sense I got from her portrayal was that she is so hurt and saddened by Geoffrey’s continued encouragement of her affairs that she decides to lie simply to hurt him and perhaps dissuade him from future encouragement.  She lives her life after that moment in guilt, anger, and fear believing that since she was able to escape poverty once before by using her wiles that she must do so once again to regain what she has lost.

All in all this was an interesting an unique look at the effects of affairs and financial ruin on a marriage.  Thanks to Kristina for the suggestion!

Criterion Hauling with My Dad

Today begins the glorious three weeks also known as the Barnes and Noble 50% Off Criterion Sale. My parents and I (along with my son) made our morning trip to Barnes and Noble and here is what I picked up!

  
I had to pick up JUDEX having watched the silent serial to see how it compares. And I know TIME BANDITS doesn’t count as a “classic” film but I had to buy it.  Here is what my Dad hauled:

  
Then my Dad and I settled in to watch THE RULES OF THE GAME, which is one of my ten films to watch in 2015. There will be a post about that film coming soon but for now here is a preview.

  
Yes, those are our feet.

July 2015 Highlights for Turner Classic Movies

As the summer rolls on here is some of what is worth looking into on TCM, as well as what I am excited to see!

The Star of the Month is Shirley Temple and you can catch some of her best films every Monday night.  To celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Technicolor TCM will be showing 25 movies over July 7th and 8th including THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (a personal favorite of mine), THE THIEF OF BAGDAD, GENTLEMAN PREFER BLONDES, and THE LEOPARD.  The Summer of Darkness continues with a total of 68 great film noirs this month which you can catch every Friday.  July 15th will feature six films for the UCLA Archive Tribute and July 30th will honor the AFI Life Achievement Awardee Steve Martin with two films, a special, and an interview.  Joan Collins is the guest programmer for the month and she will introduce her four films on July 22nd which include BOOM TOWN, THE OPPOSITE SEX, and THE WOMEN.  July 28th will feature the documentaries of Les Blank and will show eleven of his films.


This month The Essentials will feature YANKEE DOODLE DANDY, THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER, THE CANDIDATE, and SWING TIME.  The Movie Camp continues with DUCK SOUP, ODDBALL MOVIE SHORTS, METROPOLIS, and THE THIEF OF BAGDAD.  TCM Underground presents CLEOPATRA JONES, CLEOPATRA JONES AND THE CASINO OF GOLD, BAYOU, ALICE SWEET ALICE, VANISHING POINT, and GREASED LIGHTNING.  Silent Sunday Nights returns with THE THANHOUSER STUDIO AND THE BIRTH OF AMERICAN CINEMA, THE CRY OF THE CHILDREN, PETTICOAT CAMP, THE EVIDENCE OF THE FILM, GRANDMA’S BOY, FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE, SPIONE, and THE PHANTOM CARRIAGE.  Finally, TCM Imports will show DONKEY SKIN, THE UNIVERSE OF JACQUES DEMY, IVAN’S CHILDHOOD, YOUNG TORLESS, and CRIA CUERVOS.


Here are some daily themes that look interesting for July!

July 5th – Anti-War Comedies

July 11th – Going Hungary

July 12th – Good Things Come In Small Packages

July 14th – Mail-Order Brides

July 15th – Barbara Stanwyck In The 30’s (!!!!)

July 19th – Frtiz Lang

July 22nd – Spencer Tracy

July 25th – Cold Feet

July 27th – Magicians and Hypnotists

July 29th – TCM Birthday Tribute William Powell


Here are some films that I am looking forward to seeing for the first time!

July 3rd – THE WINDOW (9:45PM EST)

July 7th – DOCTOR X (8:30AM EST)

July 9th – MOURNING BECOMES ELECTRA (1:30PM EST)

July 10th – A WOMAN’S SECRET (7:30PM EST)

July 14th – THE PURCHASE PRICE (9:30PM EST), WESTWARD THE WOMEN (12:45AM EST)

July 15th – SO BIG (8:45AM EST), EVER IN MY HEART (11:45AM), LADIES THEY TALK ABOUT (1PM EST), THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (12:30AM EST)

Clearly I need to just stay home and watch TCM from July 14th-15th…

July 17th – TOO LATE FOR TEARS (8PM EST), THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS (10PM EST)

July 21st – STAR OF MIDNIGHT (1935)

July 23rd – WITHOUT RESERVATIONS (11:30AM EST), TOMORROW IS FOREVER (1:30PM EST)

July 25th – PICNIC (6PM EST)

July 29th – ONE WAY PASSAGE (7:15AM EST)

July 30th – FORSAKING ALL OTHERS (9:30AM EST)


Now a new feature that I am trying out this month!  Here are five picks for films that I strongly suggest you check out!

5.) THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES, July 5th at 12PM EST – Simply one of the best films about soldiers returning home from war ever made

4.) THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, July 7th at 8:30AM EST – This film was the first classic film that I remember watching and getting swept away in, a personal favorite

3.) CLASH BY NIGHT, July 24th at 11:15 AM EST – Love this Fritz Lang film, Barbara Stanwyck is amazing

2.) NIGHT NURSE, July 15th at 7:30AM EST – Barbara Stanwyck at her pre-code best in this William Wellman film

1.) BALL OF FIRE, July 12th at 4PM EST – Barbara Stanwyck and Gary Cooper directed by Howard Hawks in this terrific film about a nightclub singer who teaches a bunch of professors about music while hiding out from the law to protect her gangster boyfriend

Can you tell I am excited about all the Barbara Stanwyck on TCM this month?


Be sure to check out Kristina’s monthly guide over at Speakeasy!

Joining In The Barrymore Trilogy Blogathon!

This summer has been chocked full of fabulous things!  Blogathons, reading challenges, film noir courses, and more!  So, I have joined yet another blogathon in August…

This is The Barrymore Trilogy Blogathon hosted by Crystal of In The Good Old Days Of Hollywood and I will be talking about the Barrymore brothers in Arsene Lupin!  If you have the inclination head on over and join in the blogathon fun, otherwise stayed tuned for more!

2015 Summer Reading Classic Film Challenge: GARBO

This post is part of the 2015 Summer Reading Classic Film Challenge hosted by Raquel of Out Of The Past. Find out more about this event here and stayed tuned all summer for more reviews!

A few weeks ago a local library was having their annual sale and my Mom and I decided to brave the crowds, and the heat, to go seek out hidden gems.  Library sales tend to be crazy, usually full of booksellers with their handheld devices trying to find books to sell online.  I have a deep and abiding love for books and this makes me sad, but that is a story for another time.  The booksellers were there in force but luckily none of them wanted the older and more unique books that I was looking for, thus allowing me to find such fabulous items as the book I just read.

GARBO by Norman Zierold is a slim volume of only 150 pages which seems somewhat fitting in the telling of the life story of the famously reclusive star.  But if you are hoping for a complete biography that tells the story of Greta Garbo’s life from cradle to, as the book was published in the late 1960s, her current life in New York City you will be disappointed.  While the book does tell some stories about Garbo’s life and childhood, her early career, and her big break into Hollywood the main point of this book is to talk about and dispel the Garbo mystique.

Zierold relates the story of Greta Garbo through the creation and maintaining of her famously eccentric and reclusive aura.  He makes a good case for the exaggeration of her truly private nature by the Hollywood publicity machine, as well as by Garbo herself.  Zierold makes the case that by saying nothing and allowing the public to print and think whatever they liked about her, Greta Garbo actually helped create and bolster her own famous image in her fairly short career.  He also shares stories of the lengths that fans, aka Garbomaniacs, would go to to meet the star which actually make it seem quite reasonable that Garbo would want to avoid the public as much as possible.

The book also spends some time dealing with Garbo’s many romantic entanglements, most famously Johnny Gilbert, as well as her close circle of friends.  Zierold has the benefit of time, writing during a period where the stars of the Golden Age were still plentiful and easily recognizable to the general public and it is nice to read the names of long forgotten stars, or at least ones that are forgotten by non-classic film fans.

All in all this was a quick and enjoyable read and since I had never read any biography about Greta Garbo, all the stories were new to me.  While I don’t feel like I know very much about Garbo’s life in total, I do feel that I know a little more about the Garbo mystique and the woman who helped to create it simply by wanting some time to herself.