CAMILLE (1937) B/W 108m dir: George Cukor
w/Greta Garbo, Robert Taylor, Lionel Barrymore, Elizabeth Allan, Jessie Ralph, Henry Daniell, Lenore Ulric, Laura Hope Crews, Rex O'Malley, Russell Hardie
From Variety 's contemporary review of the film: "George Cukor directs this famous play [by Alexandre Dumas] with rare skill. Interior settings, costumes and exteriors are lavish and beautiful. The film shows the great care which went into its preparation and making."
From The Movie Guide: "The great Garbo at her radiant peak, and certainly among the top five most romantic movies ever made. Cukor's renowned 'rapport' with actresses is unfailing here. MGM's glamour shows unmistakable care --- if it's not the same as style, the luxuriance befits the story of a courtesan. It's a puzzle why Garbo's Marguerite is a whore --- she seems too intelligent, too yearning, too serious to have ever considered the demimonde life, yet her acting is so generous, so overcome with the warmth of true love, so tinged with the irony of the character's circumstances, that she sweeps you away. Her final scene is among the finest ever committed to film, as she signals death with her eyes in a lingering close-up.
"Robert Taylor is so beautiful, you can forgive his lack of skill. His earnestness seems consistent with the rash actions of young love, and his ardent awe of Garbo imparts a worshipful aura that is touching. The fact that he looks younger makes the whore component of Garbo's character more believable; it justifies Armand's not immediately grasping his love's circumstances.
"This is Daniell's most interesting performance, subtle in his control and villainy. Laura Hope Crews finally is able to utilize her vocal vulgarity; she is by far a better old strumpet than she was an old maid busybody in so many films. Tempestuous Lenore Ulric is a curiosity that works. The former Belasco stage star embodies a disappointed envy of Garbo that Cukor uses to great advantage. Lionel Barrymore, all growling propriety, is the jarring note in the ensemble.
"The screenplay was adapted from the Dumas play by Frances Marion, James Hilton, and Zoe Atkins. And Adrian's costumes, usually white for Miss Garbo, contribute to her divination of literature's most beloved dying swan. This was Irving Thalberg's last production; he died while it was being made and it was completed by Bernard Hyman."
Garbo was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress.