A Few Words About A few words about... Garbo - The Signature Collection

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Robert Harris, Aug 30, 2005.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    During her American career, Greta Garbo starred in 24 feature films for M-G-M.

    Nine of them were produced during the silent era, and fifteen, beginning with Anna Christie in 1930, were sound.

    For cinephiles 2005 has thus far been an exciting, if wallet-emptying year, and will continue as such through the final four months.

    While silent film buffs are waiting anxiously for the Harold Lloyd films, a collection certain to be one of the most important releases of the year, they must also be taking notice of the three silent Garbo films in this ten disc boxed set, which covers approximately one half of M-G-M's Garbo library.

    Beginning with The Tempress (1926), and including the more famous Flesh and the Devil (1927) and The Mysterious Lady (1928), the two disc set featuring the silents serves as a taking off point for the rest of the collection. Also included with the silents is the only surviving footage of the presumably lost 1928 The Divine Woman.

    Of the fifteen sound films, we are given seven... Anna Christie arrives along with the German version, directed by Jacques Feyder as an additional extra; Grand Hotel; Camille; Ninotchka; Mata Hari; Queen Christina (my personal favorite Garbo film); and Anna Karenina round out the selected titles.

    But it is the 86 minute documentary, which makes up the tenth disc, that alone is worth the $75 price of admission for the entire collection.

    There is something about a Photoplay documentary that sets it apart from all others, no matter how superb their quality. And it is "Garbo," narrated by Julie Christie, produced by Patrick Stanbury and directed by Kevin Brownlow that tops off this collection, meeting the level of quality found in the Garbo films themselves.

    In any ranking of documentaries on the history of film, there are the Photoplay productions (the companion piece to King Kong, on the life of Merian C. Cooper is coming), there is a large void, and then a ranking of all the others. There is simply no comparison.

    The forthcoming release of the first installment of Garbo films from Warner Home Video marks a red letter day for cinephiles. Everything has been done right; the finest surviving film elements have been gathered, inventoried and digitally transferred; and the finest documentarians have been set to the task of relating the life and legend of the extraordinary Ms. Garbo.

    This is yet another of those "no brainer" purchases offered to us by WHV.

    In the words of the immortal Mr. Ebert...

    "Two thumbs up... and they couldn't possibly be raised any higher."

    RAH
     
  2. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    I'm SO excited for this one -- thanks for the stamp of approval RAH!

    I have taped some of Garbo's other movies off of TCM, but the quality level isn't the same on my high-def plasma, as these Warners DVDs.

    Cheers to RAH! to Garbo! and to Warners Home Video, for raising the bar, once again.
     
  3. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Although I'd love to take some credit, I had absolutely nothing to do with this release. Its pure Warner Home Video.

    RAH
     
  4. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    HeHe, yes I know, but your stamp of approval probably means bigger sales!

    I forgot to give Cheers! to George Cukor, MGM, Adrian, and Ernst Lubitsch -- Cheers to all those who participated in bringing these exquisite things to the screen.
     
  5. Richard M S

    Richard M S Supporting Actor

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    Oh the fact that the documentary is of such a high caliber is great news, and the high quality of the prints is even better news. This is a mandatory purchase for me on Tuesday.
     
  6. John Stell

    John Stell Supporting Actor

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    Amen to that! From a personal standpoint, there is no way I can see 2006 topping 2005. But I bet WB will try.
     
  7. Danny Burk

    Danny Burk Second Unit

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    Very exciting! My set has been on order for weeks, and I'm especially looking forward to the documentary...now more than ever. I've seen the 1949 screen test online, and it was beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time.

    And QUEEN CHRISTINA is also my favorite Garbo film [​IMG]
     
  8. Garysb

    Garysb Cinematographer

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    FYI Garbo is the Star of The Month on TCM in September .
    The documentary included on the DVD will be on TCM
    Tuesday September 6th 8PM Eastern Time

    I have my set on order. Can't wait. So much to watch so little time.
     
  9. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

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    great to see a RAH stamp of approval.

    My bank balance will not survive lol
     
  10. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    If the group wishes to send additional kudos out for the Garbo Collection, you may wish to send them towards George Feltenstein and Ned Price, along with the crew of devoted vault people, film handlers, transfer personnel, color timers, compressionists et al at Warner Bros....

    RAH
     
  11. Roger Rollins

    Roger Rollins Supporting Actor

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    While a high-ticket item, THE GARBO SIGNATURE COLLECTION has to be one of the great values of the year...Most retailers are selling 10 discs for $75...Only public domain crap can be obtained for less.....

    These are some of the most important films of all time, and it is to Warner Brothers' credit that they took the care to employ one of the world's finest documentarians, Mr. Brownlow, to create a new feature to accompany her greatest films.

    I don't want to menrion any names, but with rare exception, the people that produce DVD documentaries (especially those who spend an inordinate amount of time promoting themselves as 'artistes':wink: ), create crappy paint-by-numbers work,
    while true "filmmakers" like Mr. Brownlow (shouldn't he have been knighted by now?) show the rest of the crowd how it can and should be done.

    I can't wait for this Garbo set. And to think...a week from today...all those wonderful films will be mine, at a very reasonable price thanks to the smart & talented folks at WB.

    Cheers!
     
  12. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    "Sir Kevin" actually has a very nice ring t it.

    RAH
     
  13. Charles Ellis

    Charles Ellis Screenwriter

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    I'll second that motion- let's contact #10 Downing St. and Buckingham Palace ASAP! By the way, why hasn't Mr. Brownlow's Hollywood documentary series been released on DVD? Without a doubt it is the best single documentary ever done on the film industry. I still pray that it isn't too late to do a sequel that would cover the Golden Age from the beginning of sound to the mid-fifties.

    Sorry about going off on a tangent. About Ms. Garbo and that tantalizing set- my only objection here is that Love wasn't included in the set. It's far superior to the sound version of Anna Karenina, partly because of the great chemistry between Greta Garbo and John Gilbert. I don't know, but seeing Fredric March's Vronsky in the 1935 sound version leaves me cold- with that bad haircut he looks like Erich von Stroheim!

    And yes, Queen Christina is my favorite Garbo film, too. I only wish the vastly underrated Rouben Mamoulian had been given the chance to work with Garbo again. This film proves for once and for all that Mr. Gilbert did indeed have a voice for talkies- to my ears he's a soundalike for Ronald Colman, whose voice was lauded by critics. Those scenes with the Queen and Don Antonio in the snowbound cabin are among the most romantic ever filmed.

    Mr. Harris, while I have your attention, maybe you can answer my question. I have heard that there were actually two camera tests Garbo did for Walter Wanger in 1949, the familiar B/W one shot by James Wong Howe, and a Technicolor one which was supposedly lost. Is there any truth to this story, and if so, is there any chance of this color film being found? (After all, MGM never put Garbo in Technicolor- it might have been quite revealing!)
     
  14. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    I do praise George Feltenstein every chance I get, and I actually got an email from him, once, thanking me for my approval!

    I love these guys, and that includes Greta Garbo.

    [​IMG]
     
  15. Art_AD

    Art_AD Stunt Coordinator

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    This is exciting because this is the first time the German language version of Anna Christie & the Temptress have ever been release on video. Also there is another silent film in this set, it is the silent version of Camille, I can't wait to see that one as I have never seen it. I am also looking forward to the documentary on Garbo on the Ninotchka disc that is narrated by Joan Crawford (one of her co-stars). Hopefully they will include in the silent film still file scenes form the Aborted silent "Anna Karenina" & "The Man's Man" as they are lost films.

    They only draw back is I wish "Love" was included on this set but I have the laser disc (although the laser did not include the alternate ending for this film) and I wish the version of Mata Hari was the pre-code version. But this is a definite buy and I am anxiously waiting for Garbo Volume two
     
  16. Charles Ellis

    Charles Ellis Screenwriter

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    Regarding Love- when it is released on DVD there should be two soundtracks: one with the music and audience reactions and one with just the music. That way one can experience this silent gem in two ways. With the audience reaction track, you feel like you've stepped back in time to a 1920s cinema auidence, and you experience the film with everyone else, especially with the strong audience reaction to- we'll, you have to see Love to know what scene I'm talking about. (Those who have seen the film on TCM will know).

    Does anyone know if any of Ms. Garbo's European films have come out on DVD with English titles? (I'm talking about films like The Joyless Street, The Saga of Gosta Berling, et al.)
     
  17. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    There's six more Garbo silents, so WB could easily made another set or two. Although, unless they've found a better print, The Single Standard would probably be a headache to watch. The surviving print used for the Turner master looks like it was run through a meat grinder.
     
  18. Danny Burk

    Danny Burk Second Unit

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    Kino is releasing SAGA OF GOSTA BERLING in the near future, although they've not made an official announcement or release date yet.
     
  19. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    I'm very unhappy with the Ninotchka disk. The video has way too much shimmer. I don't know what happened -- I don't think the TCM version looks like this. Very disappointed.
     
  20. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    What exactly is "shimmer" ? Judging from Gary Tooze's (DVD Beaver) screenshots, it looks wonderful.


    By the way, buy.com is listing the Garbo box set for $60. Is it worth using their services?
     

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