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Thursday, 6 September 2012

Anna Christie (1930) - Star of the month... Greta Garbo

"Give me a whisky, ginger ale on the side, and don't be stingy, baby." - Greta Garbo (as Anna Christie in 'Anna Christie')

'Anna Christie' is a 1930 drama directed by Clarence Brown and starring Greta Garbo, Charles Bickford, Marie Dressler and George F. Marion.

Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning Broadway play by Eugene O'Neill, the film is notable for being Greta Garbo's first sound film, with Garbo's first talking lines 16 mins into the film. 

Anna Christie (played by Garbo) returns home and is reunited with her sailor father Chris (played by O'Neill) who she has not seen in many years. Anna rescues and falls in love with another sailor, Matt Burke (played by Bickford), but neglects to tell him about her past career as a prostitute.

Watch Greta Garbo talk on film for the first time:


'Anna Christie' is considered to be a "pre-code film", meaning it was released prior to the introduction of the strict Hollywood production code in 1934.  It would have been difficult for 'Anna Christie' to have been filmed after the introduction of the code, due to the subplot of Anna being a prostitute. 

Father-daughter relationship

In the film, we find out Chris was forced to give up Anna as a result of his being a sailor. Although Anna and Chris' relationship improves throughout the film, Anna has some hostility and resentment towards her father.

Did you know...

  • MGM also released a silent version of this film with subtitles
  • Greta Garbo filmed a German version of 'Anna Christie' immediately after filming was completed on this film - the German version was directed by Jacques Feyder and features a different supporting cast
  • George F. Marion (as Chris) and James T. Mack (as Johnny) originated their roles in the original Broadway production in 1921
  • George F. Marion previously starred as Chris in the silent film version of 'Anna Christie'

Award nominations

  • Academy Award nomination for Best Actress (Greta Garbo)
  • Academy Award nomination for Best Director (Clarence Brown)
  • Academy Award nomination for Best Cinematography (William H. Daniels)

Closing remarks

Despite it's historical significance of being Greta Garbo's first talking film, it is a rather dull and boring film to watch. Garbo's acting is awful and George G. Marion's broken English is annoying. The good news is Marie Dressler, fantastic as always as drunk Marthy. Overall, I found the German version to be far superior.

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