Mata Hari (1932)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

"So much for Carlotta" muses the head of German Espionage (Lewis Stone), shortly after secret agent Karen Morley is put to death. Morley's successor is exotic dancer Mata Hari (Greta Garbo), an enigmatic woman of Javanese-Dutch ancestry who seldom thinks twice about luring some poor swain to his doom. Assigned to intercept allied war messages, Mata Hari romances garrolous-general Lionel Barrymore. She falls in love for the first and only time in her life when she meets dazzlingly handsome lieutenant Ramon Novarro. Barrymore finds out about the affair and threatens to expose both Mata and Novarro as spies, whereupon Ms. Hari shoots Barrymore dead. She arranges for Novarro to leave the country lest he be implicated in the murder. He is subsequently blinded in an airplane crash, setting the stage for Garbo's now-famous "Let me be your eyes" scene. Mata Hari is tried and sentenced to death, but is permitted a few final precious moments with Novarro, allowing him to go on believing that he is in a military hospital rather than a prison cell, and that his beloved is dying of a mysterious ailment rather than facing a firing squad. The debate still rages among film buffs as to whether Greta Garbo does her own dancing in Mata Hari, or whether that's her double in the long shots. There is no question, however, that the condemned prisoner in the first reel who refuses to betray Mata to his captors is none other than Mischa Auer.
Action & Adventure , Classics , Drama , Mystery & Suspense , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
MGM Home Entertainment

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Greta Garbo
as Mata Hari
Ramon Novarro
as Lt. Alexis Rosanoff
Lionel Barrymore
as Gen. Serge Shubin
Lewis Stone
as Andriani
Karen Morley
as Carlotta
Blanche Frederici
as Sister Angelica
Edmund Breese
as Warden
Helen Jerome Eddy
as Sister Genevieve
Frank Reicher
as The Cook, a Spy
Sarah Padden
as Sister Theresa
Mischa Auer
as Executed Man
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Mata Hari

All Critics (7) | Top Critics (4)

Though Garbo is sexy and hot in a less subtle way this time, and though the plot goes about as far as it can in situation warmth, the story presents nothing sensational.

Full Review… | March 25, 2009
Top Critic

The film is Garbo's even before she appears on screen to dazzle her willing audience; once there, it becomes impossible to dissociate the legend of the star from the myth of Mata Hari.

Full Review… | February 8, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

A glamourous and romantic conception of the latter days of the life of the Dutch dancer and courtesan who was shot as a spy by the French in 1917.

Full Review… | January 27, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Greta Garbo tries to wheedle secrets out of Ramon Navarro and Lewis Stone in her most ludicrous film.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Garbo is stunning.

Full Review… | September 4, 2012
TV Guide

Not Garbo's greatest but it has a curious charm.

Full Review… | September 4, 2012
Empire Magazine

Audience Reviews for Mata Hari

Some confusion in this film on who is on who's side and why.... most of the acting and camera work is stilted - like it's a silent film.

Christopher Bergan
Christopher Bergan

If this film had a better script, with less melodrama, it would be an absolute masterpiece. It's the amazing presence of Garbo, who's giving such a vivid performance that feels like the character comes alive on the screen. Amazing, amazing, amazing Garbo. Here you can see the reason why she became such a great star. The Mata Hari vehicle is also interesting for another reason. Mata treats men like equals - even her boss. Men treat her like a godess - and she may toy with them, to do her job, but ultimately, she values their humanity. Mata Hari is such an interesting personality, it's no wonder this character has become a legend. In this film we also see how progressive the 30s movies have been in treating women. Highly recommended despite its faults.

Anastasia  Bartzoulianou
Anastasia Bartzoulianou

Super Reviewer

A very interesting movie, based on real life, but the film makers could have done a better job with putting this movie together. It just doesn't grab your attention, it's boring.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

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