Filled Under: Greta Garbo
“If only those who dream about Hollywood knew how difficult it all is.” ~ Greta Garbo
“My talents fall within definite limitations. I am not as versatile an actress as some think.” ~ Greta Garbo
“Being a movie star, and this applies to all of them, means being looked at from every possible direction. You are never left at peace, you’re just fair game.” ~ Greta Garbo
“The story of my life is about back entrances, side doors, secrets elevators and other ways of getting in and out of places so that people won’t bother me.” ~ Greta Garbo
“I never said, ‘I want to be alone.’ I only said, ‘I want to be left alone.’ There is a whole world of difference.” ~ Greta Garbo
“Your joys and sorrows. You can never tell them. You cheapen the inside of yourself if you do.” ~ Greta Garbo
“There are some who want to get married and others who don’t. I have never had an impulse to go to the altar. I am a difficult person to lead.” ~ Greta Garbo
“I ‘WAS’ Greta Garbo.” ~ Greta Garbo when asked in her later years by a fan if she is Greta Garbo.
“Life would be so wonderful if we only knew what to do with it.” ~ Greta Garbo
“Anna Karenina” (1935 – MGM) is the most famous and critically acclaimed film adaptation of the classic novel Anna Karenina written by Leo Tolstoy. The film is directed by Clarence Brown and stars Greta Garbo, Fredric March, Basil Rathbone, Freddie Bartholomew, Maureen O’Sullivan, May Robson, and Reginald Owen.
“Anna Karenina” is set mostly in Moscow during the weeks that follow the initial meeting of the lovers to be Vronsky and Anna Karenina. Anna Karenina (Greta Garbo) is the wife of Czarist official Karenin (Basil Rathbone). While she tries to persuade her brother Stiva (Reginald Owen) from a life of debauchery, she meets and falls in love with dashing military officer Count Vronsky (Fredric March). This indiscreet liaison ruins her marriage and her position in 19th century Russian society. She is even prohibited from seeing her own son Sergei (Freddie Bartholomew). The story, as it unfolds, also focuses on Kitty (Maureen O’Sullivan), a young woman who is related to Anna’s sister-in-law. Until Anna shows up, Kitty had hopes of getting Vronsky, who is single and well connected, to propose to her. Soon she is ignored by Vronsky and turns her attention to another suitor.
“Anna Karenina” is like many of the typical high-budget MGM films, the direction is excellent, the sets are big and well done, and the music is wonderful. The cast as a whole give great, impressive performances. Basil Rathbone’s portrayal as the cold and unforgiving Karenin is superb and almost equals that of Garbo’s. Freddie Bartholomew was eleven years old when the film was made and he is very memorable in his role as Anna Karenina’s son Sergei, especially in the scenes he has with Garbo. Fredric March’s portrayal of Vronsky was not his best performance but he was still very good. Maureen O’Sullivan, May Robson, and Reginald Owen were also very good in their supporting roles. But the heart of “Anna Karenina” was Greta Garbo. She is unforgettable as a woman helpless in the situation she finds herself in and heartbroken at the loss of her son.
“Anna Karenina” opened August 30, 1935 in New York City at the Capitol Theatre, the site of many prestigious MGM premieres and earned $2,304,000 at the box office. The film won the Mussolini Cup for best foreign film at the Venice Film Festival. Greta Garbo received a New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress for her role as Anna. The film was ranked #42 on the American Film Institute’s list of AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Passions.
When Greta Garbo was first brought to Hollywood from her native Sweden in 1925 by MGM’s Louis B. Mayer she was a 19 year old with only a few Swedish films to her credit. MGM started a publicity blitz to promote their new budding star. Probably the most popular publicity photos that were taken of Garbo were by sports photographer Don Gillum. Gillum was under contract to MGM to photograph several of their contract players including Garbo. In the spring of 1926. Gillum took her to the Lion Farm where Greta posed with Jackie the Lion, known as Leo the Lion, MGM’s mascot. She was coaxed into one picture seated in a chair beside the lion. Greta nervously moved to the farthest edge of the chair and her uneasiness is evident. Later Gillum took pictures of Garbo playing with lion cubs. The photos of Garbo with the lions were some of the most famous he ever took of Greta.