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Sunday, May 25, 2008

MATA HARI (1932)


Except for ANNA CHRISTIE & GRAND HOTEL, Greta Garbo’s early talkies are a sorry bunch. Sternberg’s DISHONORED w/ Dietrich heavily influenced this stupefying nonsense about the infamous WWI spy, but at least fading helmer George Fitzmaurice kicks off nicely with a military execution where an unbilled Mischa Auer (looking startlingly like Johnny Depp) prefers death to denouncing Mata. After that, there’s only a smattering of camp appeal. (Mata Hari’s exotic dance & this deathless exchange for Garbo & Ramon Navarro; RN: I love you as one adores sacred things. GG: What sacred things? RN: God, country, honor, you. GG: I come last?) Ramon hit his Talkie stride two years on in THE CAT & THE FIDDLE, but by then it was too late to revive his fading glamour. Garbo got on her feet with QUEEN CHRISTINA in 1933 and rode out the decade in style.

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