Greta Garbo - Rotten Tomatoes

Greta Garbo



Few who knew Swedish actress Greta Garbo in her formative years would have predicted the illustrious career that awaited her. Garbo grew up in a rundown Stockholm district, the daughter of an itinerant laborer. In school, she did little to distinguish herself; nor was her first job, as a barbershop lather girl, indicative of future greatness. But, even as a youth, she photographed beautifully, a fact that enabled her to get a few modeling jobs with the Stockholm department store where she worked. Her first film was a 1921 publicity short financed by her employers titled How Not to Dress. Garbo followed this with Our Daily Bread, a one-reel commercial for a local bakery. She then played a bathing beauty in a 1922 two-reel comedy, Luffarpetter/Peter the Tramp.



Billed under her own last name, Garbo (born Greta Gustafsson) garnered a couple of good trade reviews, and the confidence to seek out and win a scholarship to the Royal Dramatic Theatre. While studying acting, she was spotted by director Mauritz Stiller, who was Sweden's foremost filmmaker in the early '20s. Stiller cast Garbo in The Atonement of Gosta Berling (1923), an overlong but internationally successful film which made her a minor star. The director became her mentor, glamorizing her image and changing her professional name to Garbo. On the strength of Gosta Berling, she was cast in the important German film drama The Joyless Street (1925), which was directed by G.W. Pabst. Hollywood's MGM studios, seeking to "raid" the European film industry and spirit away its top talents, then signed Stiller to a contract. MGM head Louis B. Mayer was unimpressed by Garbo's two starring roles, but Stiller insisted on bringing her to America; thus, Mayer had to contract her, as well.



The actress spent most of 1925 posing for nonsensical publicity photos which endeavored to create a "mystery woman" image for her (a campaign that had worked for previous foreign film actresses like Pola Negri), but it was only after shooting commenced on Garbo's first American film, The Torrent (1926), that MGM realized it had a potential gold mine on its hands. As Mauritz Stiller withered on the vine due to continual clashes with the studio brass, Garbo's star ascended. But when MGM refused to pay her commensurate to her worth, Garbo threatened to walk out; the studio counter-threatened to have the actress deported, but, in the end, they buckled under and increased her salary. In Flesh and the Devil (1927), Garbo co-starred with John Gilbert, and it became obvious that theirs was not a mere movie romance. The Garbo/Gilbert team went on to make an adaptation of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina titled Love (its original title was Heat, but this was scrapped to avoid an embarrassing ad campaign which would have started with "John Gilbert and Greta Garbo in..."). The couple planned to marry, but Garbo, in one of her frequent attacks of self-imposed solitude, did not show up for the wedding; over the years, the actress would have other romantic involvements, but would never marry.



In 1930, MGM's concerns about Garbo's voice -- that her thick Swedish accent (tinged with "stage British") would not register well in talkies -- were abated by the success of Anna Christie, which was heralded with the famous ad tag "Garbo Talks." Some noted that the slogan could also have been "Garbo Acts," for the advent of talkies obliged the actress to drop the "mysterious temptress" characterization she'd used in silents in favor of more richly textured performances as worldly, somewhat melancholy women to whom the normal pleasures of love and contentment would always be just out of reach. In this vein, Garbo starred in Grand Hotel (1932), Queen Christina (1933), Anna Karenina (1935), and Camille (1936), which served to increase her worshipful fan following, even if the films weren't the box-office smashes her silent pictures had been. The actress' legendary aloofness and desire to "be alo

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT YEAR
No Score Yet Final cut - Hölgyeim és uraim
  • Actor
2012
No Score Yet Gay! Gay! Hollywood
  • Actor
1999
No Score Yet The Divine Garbo
  • Actor
1990
No Score Yet The Divine Garbo
  • Actor
1990
No Score Yet That's Entertainment, Part 2
  • Actor
1976
No Score Yet 30 Years of Fun
  • Actor
1963
25% The Two-Faced Woman
  • Karin Borg Blake
1941
97% Ninotchka
  • Nina Ivanovna 'Ninotchka' Yakushova
1939
No Score Yet Conquest
  • Countess Marie Walewska
1937
91% Camille
  • Marguerite
1936
100% Anna Karenina
  • Anna Karenina
1935
No Score Yet The Painted Veil
  • Katrin Koerber Fane
1934
89% Queen Christina
  • Queen Christina
1933
57% Mata Hari
  • Mata Hari
1932
86% Grand Hotel
  • Grusinskaya
1932
83% As You Desire Me
  • Zara aka Maria
1932
No Score Yet Susan Lenox: Her Fall and Rise
  • Susan Lenox
1931
No Score Yet Inspiration
  • Yvonne Valbret
1931
No Score Yet Romance
  • Madame Rita Cavallini
1930
No Score Yet Anna Christie
  • Anna Christie
1930
No Score Yet The Kiss
  • Irene
1929
No Score Yet The Single Standard
  • Arden
1929
No Score Yet Wild Orchids
  • Lili Sterling
1929
No Score Yet A Woman of Affairs
  • Diana Merrick Furness
1928
80% The Mysterious Lady
  • Tania
1928
No Score Yet Love (Anna Karenina)
  • Anna Karenina
1927
No Score Yet Camille
  • Actor
1927
92% Flesh and the Devil
  • Felicitas von Kletzingk
1926
No Score Yet The Temptress
  • Elena
1926
No Score Yet Torrent
  • Leonora
1926
75% The Joyless Street
  • Greta Rumfort
1925
No Score Yet The Saga of Gosta Berling
  • Countess Elizabeth Dohna
1924

Quotes from Greta Garbo's Characters