As we return this year to an older feature, ‘Tantalizing Tuesdays’, let’s finish our peek at the work of Greta Garbo we began in December.
I never said, ‘I want to be alone.’ I only said, ‘I want to be left alone.’ There is all the difference.
– Greta Garbo
Mesmerizing. When Greta Garbo is on the screen, it is her eyes I am seeking out, her many-faceted expressions that add so much more to the dialogue than just words. It is more than tactile, innate beauty. There are many people born, as some would say, ‘classically beautiful.’ But there was something else, something I cannot name, coming from inside her.
If she were here, she might call ‘B.S.’, but maybe that is why sometimes I don’t want to know the background of the actors, and watching films about people I never really knew about are more effective for me. I am a born reader and storyteller. Character-driven stories. Are they all true? In other words maybe, but yes. Back to Greta.
I was going to spend some time talking about her so-called ‘reclusiveness’ in her entire fifth floor apartment on East 52nd St. in NYC, and her incredible art collection she left behind when she died. Some called it reclusive or hermit-like. Others say she was a private lady. I’d rather return to her body of work.
Here is one of my favourite scenes from her first talkie in 1930:
In 1932 Greta made Grand Hotel with a huge, not-to-be-compared with cast. Here as the ballerina Grusinskaya, she insists on being left alone in her room after not performing and angering her manager. The Baron (John Barrymore) is hiding in her room. He was not stalking her but planning to steal her jewelry. When she finds him, he tells her how he admires her and she believes him, and it gives her joy, and hope. It begins a change in the Baron as well. You must see this movie!
Grusinskaya: You must forgive me. I have had a very trying evening. I was so alone–suddenly, you were there.
I missed a few films I would like to have touched on, but this is all for now. Rest in peace, Greta Garbo. I am sorry we did not all leave you alone, but you see, we are a greedy lot. Thank you for all the faces, and all the stories.