|The Mysterious Lady. Greta Garbo. Photo: John Kobal Foundation. Please click to enlarge.|
|The Mysterious Lady. Greta Garbo. Foto di Ruth Harriet Louise, photo John Kobal Foundation. Please click to enlarge.|
|Shooting The Mysterious Lady. The director Fred Niblo with Greta Garbo and Conrad Nagel. Photo: Photoplay Productions. Please click to enlarge.|
|The Mysterious Lady. Gustav von Seyffertitz and Greta Garbo. Photo: Photoplay Productions. Please click to enlarge.|
|Shooting The Mysterious Lady. Photo: Photoplay Productions. Please click to enlarge.|
Film concert The Mysterious Lady. Salaperäinen nainen / Den mystiska kvinnan. US 1928. PC: M-G-M. D: Fred Niblo.
35 mm print from: Photoplay Productions, London. From a negative held by Turner Entertainment. Distributed under licence from Warner Bros.
Score composed by: Carl Davis, commissioned by Norddeutscher Rundfunk, performed by arrangement with Faber Music Ltd., London, on behalf of Carl Davis.
Performed live by: Orchestra San Marco, Pordenone. Conductor: Carl Davis.
Le Giornate del Cinema Muto: Eventi speciali.
Theme tune: "Vissi d'arte" from Tosca by Giacomo Puccini.
Viewed at Teatro Verdi, Pordenone, e-subtitles in Italian by Sub-Ti, 1 Oct 2016.
Greta Garbo at her best in her fifth Hollywood film, her eyes finally fully revealed by panchromatic film. The Mysterious Lady is a key film in the evolution of the Garbo mystery.
The espionage story belongs to a tradition which was still being followed by Alfred Hitchcock in North by Northwest. It is a story about pretending to love for the sake of your country. And a story of love versus duty. The final charade of the lovers trapped in the enemy's den has an affinity with To Be Or Not to Be.
The engrossing score by Carl Davis takes a cue from the opera sequence where Tosca is being performed, and "Vissi d'arte" becomes the theme tune which is heard three or four times. Thus in the serata inaugurale we heard Puccini at Teatro Verdi. And Davis's own music rises to the wavelength of Puccini.
Garbo is really wonderful in this movie. It belongs to the films which make us understand the rapture of Béla Balázs in front of the face of Garbo. She looks plain at first, and gradually we start to notice the allure, the seduction, the ambivalence, and the sense of irony (see the portrait by Ruth Harriet Louise above). All covered with tenderness. The complexity in the simplicity. The extraordinary in the ordinary.
A beautiful print with some marks of damage from the source in the beginning.