Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Kiss (1929)

The red poster is from
Art Deco.

Despite being such a Garbo fanatic, I think this may be my first post that deals with one of her movies!

As was the case for blogging about Ingmar Bergman, I had an unrelenting fear that I would never do her work any justice.

Well, I have to face that fear and I have just come to the conclusion that I shouldn’t fear, for I, or anyone, could ever talk about her movies in a just manner.  (Except perhaps for her biographer, Barry Parris, who has actually earned that right, having spent half his life investigating the Divine one’s life). So I won’t try.TheKiss1929Garbo
The movie is The Kiss.  It is to be Garbo’s last silent picture (although, as you all may already know, this movie has the music dubbed into the film or something, but you don’t hear Garbo or anyone speak or sing so we’ll call it a silent picture).

Oh and it also should be noted that this is MGM’s last silent picture.

I ramble about sound because the very fine gentleman that is Mr.Jonas Nordin had just wrote a wonderful post that deals with the advent of sound.

Now, onto the movie.  The story is fairly simple.

Garbo is in a loveless marriage with a rich old man. 

Garbo falls in love with a smooth lawyer that is Conrad Nagel. He is a man with morals and doesn’t want to be a home wrecker.  She is defenseless woman afraid of her husband’s bitter temper. They leave their affair unfulfilled.

To keep her mind off her lost love, Garbo enjoys the company of a young college boy who walks their dogs, who is played by Lew Ayres. Garbo enjoys the attention but calls him a foolish boy.

One night, before leaving her, the boy asks her for a kiss.  She feels sorry for the boy so she humors him.  TheKiss1929Garbo-8
The husband walks in on their innocent kiss and finds a gun.
A whole trial erupts and Garbo is in the middle of yet another intrigue/ love triangle. Actually, it is a love rectangle since there are three men and a woman  involved? Help me out someone.

Pretty crafty huh? I saw this movie on TCM and Robert Osborne mentioned that at the time of the film’s release, Garbo and Charlie Chaplin were the last stars to make huge profits from silent movies, (Chaplin’s film, City Lights (1931) wasn’t a talkie since he did not talkie in it).

I love this film. Thinking about it now, this movie has all the elements of a good Garbo movie, except that she plays a contemporary woman as opposed to a woman in stuffy costumes.
(The Garbo/MGM factory is present which includes lighting by William Daniels, gowns by Adrian and set design by Cedric Gibbons.)

I love her chemistry with Conrad Nagel. Despite popular opinion, I have to say that he is my favorite Garbo leading man. He matches her coolness and aloofness.

I want to note that Nagel’s character is named André Dubail. I so couldn’t help but connect that with Armand Duval, Robert Taylor’s character in Camille (1936).

This Kiss did not feel like a regular silent movie for me.  I thought the pace was quick, and I now only found out that the movie is only 62 minutes long, or at least the version I watched on TCM was.

This movie is out only in VHS. Sigh.


Jonas Nordin said...

Thanks for the link!
I may be nordic but my name is Nordin with "N" as in... Nordic :)

Splendid post! The Kiss is a fantastic movie!

Nik said...


I am so sorry. I do not do well spelling names. I mispell my own in application forms all the time...I did so in my passport application one time and I had to wait another few months..anyways...