Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Summer Under the Stars: Greta Garbo

Movie Dearest continues our daily previews of Turner Classic Movies' month long "Summer Under the Stars" celebration:

Now Playing Star Profile for Greta Garbo - Stardates: Born September 18, 1905, Stockholm, Sweden; died 1990. Star Sign: Virgo. Star Qualities: The sculpted face, the hooded eyes, the enigmatic half-smile, above all, the sense of mystery and irresistible allure. Star definition: "Her instinct, her mastery over the machine, was pure witchcraft. I cannot analyze this woman's acting; I only know that no one else so effectively worked in front of a camera." -- Bette Davis. Galaxy of Characters: Grusinskaya in Grand Hotel, Christina in Queen Christina, Marguerite Gautier in Camille, Ninotchka in Ninotchka.

The real Queen Christina of Sweden was known for her fondness for masculine dress, refusal to marry and passionate affairs with both sexes. Naturally, even in pre-code Hollywood, most of this was barely alluded to in the film loosely based on her life, Queen Christina.

Garbo dressed the part, and even falls in love with John Gilbert's Spanish envoy while disguised as a man; however, the most blatant display of the Queen's true nature is this kiss with the Countess Ebba Sparre (played by Elizabeth Young). In reality, the Countess was the love of Christina's life (she even introduced her as her "bed-mate"); on film she appears more like a kid sister. Perhaps the time has come for the life of Christina to be revisited on film.

Queen Christina airs tomorrow on TCM at 3:00 PM EST.

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