Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Greta Garbo

There are several Greta Garbo movies coming on Turner Classic Movies tonight. You can catch "Anna Christie" at 8:00 P.M. (all times are EDT), the German version of "Anna Christie" at 9:45, plus "The Divine Greta Garbo (a 1990 documentary) at 5:30 am.
Roland Flamini discusses the beginning of Greta Garbo's career at M-G-M in his book, "Thalberg: The Last Tycoon and the World of M-G-M" (Crown Publishers, Inc.; New York; 1994; pages 93 - 94):
[Irving] Thalberg had not at first been impressed with Garbo. She was overweight, her hair was worn in a style that made her look matronly, and her teeth needed fixing. Her first test had not been encouraging, and he wondered aloud to his associates what had possessed [Leo B.] Mayer to give her a contract. As with Norma [Shearer, Thalberg's wife], a second test saved Garbo from oblivion. [Mauritz] Stiller had persuaded Thalberg to try again, and this time Thalberg was more favorably impressed. He sent her to the studio dentist and the studio hairdresser, and he recommended a strict diet.
After waiting ten weeks, Garbo was one day summoned to Thalberg's office. He handed her a large brown envelope. "Here is the script for The Torrent," he told her. "Go to your hotel and study the role of Leonora." Garbo meekly took the envelope from his hands and without a word turned around and went to her hotel. It was her one display of total obedience in a Hollywood career spanning fifteen legendary years and twenty-four films.
ONE display of total obedience in the fifteen year of such an incredible actress?
I sudder to think of the near- to no-talents today who have all sorts of prerequisites written into their contracts before they ever get NEAR a set!


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