Sunday Night Journal — Feb 5, 2012
Beethoven: Piano Sonata #15, "Pastorale", I (Allegro)


As far as I can remember this is the first Greta Garbo movie I've ever seen, and it's completely delightful. It's a sort of romantic comedy, made just before World War II in which Garbo plays a grim Soviet emmisary sent to Paris to find out what's become of three men who had been sent there by the authorities to sell some jewels confiscated from an aristocrat after the Revolution. This was apparently her first mostly comic role—the theme of the advertising campaign was Garbo Laughs!  Of course she soon falls in love with life in Paris, and with handsome Count D'Algout. There are a good many jokes at the expense of the Soviets, and of course who wouldn't prefer to live in a luxury hotel suite rather than share a single small room with several people, with a police informer next door? But she has to return to Russia, and...

Garbo is as beautiful as everyone has always said, and gives a great performance, quite funny at times, especially in the earlier part of the story where she's maintaining her grim political posture. Perhaps it's partly the accent, but she reminds me, oddly, of Arnold Schwarzenegger inTerminator


I find it a little difficult to imagine anyone not enjoying this movie. You might find yourself thinking of all that isn't said or shown about capitalism--there is no underside of Paris visible here--and noting the occasional admissions that the Russian people had it pretty rough before the Revolution, but if that sort of thing keeps you from enjoying it, you really ought to lighten up.


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It's probably been 30 years or more since I've seen that movie, but I remember that I liked it. There was a remake in the 50s called Silk Stockings. It was a musical Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse. I think the original was better, but it's been so long that I don't remember.


I love this movie. Watch it regularly. My parents love it too. We like the moment when Garbo relents and says, 'I vant a silly hat'.

And a VERY silly hat it is, too.

It’s been many years since I’ve seen this movie, but I remember it as being simply delightful. I guess the only problem I now have with it is that it was such a lighthearted poke at Stalin’s world, giving the impression that the place wasn’t the actual horror it was.

It certainly doesn't convey the real horror, but within the limits of the kind of movie it is, it gets in some pretty good lines. "The trials are going well. We will have fewer but better Russians." Enough to be offensive to Communists. According to something I read (Wikipedia, probably), an attempt to revive it during the war "was suppressed" (?!?) because the Russians were our allies.

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