»The MGM history of Garbo pretty much ignores her European career.«
© by Scott Reisfield 2006:
The MGM history of Garbo pretty much ignores her European career. It was her decision to present her as an actress that they had discovered and created, that they really didn’t put much into their biography about the European life of the woman that she was from Europe.
But Garbo came to the United States as a well trained European actress. She had grown up in Stockholm and earned a scholarship to the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm. And her class was small - it was eight people basically. She was a part on an interesting group. Her class included a famous reader’s director Alf Sjöberg, who was a life time friend, who was very well known as a teacher of acting to other actors and actresses and two actors who had decades of careers on stage and in film and in television in Sweden. So her class was a very interesting group by itself and accomplished a lot she was perhaps the most famous member of it.
But she went on in Sweden to stop to be in a number of stage roles before she worked in a film. And the director of the academy, when he reviewed, he said that she was clearly counted from the beginning and was sort of the evolution of her skill where you can see the flashes of brilliance coming out as she was learning her craft. She was selected at the end of her first year in theatre school and this was a two year program with an option for a third year. And she got the third year because she was going into the company of the Royal Dramatic Theatre. Then she was selected to the story “Gösta Berlings Saga “ - which she did. After that she went for her second year - the “Gösta Berlings Saga” was introduced in Europe, in Berlin, and she actually started her third year, and was in some excellent rolls for the main company at the Royal Dramatic Theatre when she left in 1924 to begin working first down in 'Duchess of Langeais' a film that never came to production because of financial problems and then pass to Germany to do “The Joyless Street”.
So, people tend to look at the MGM biography first in take of her as somebody just came to MGM and then MGM created her. But actually she was a highly trained professional actress; first in theatre and then in film. And this is a picture from Sweden probably her first publicity picture and I am not sure whether it is for stage or for “Gösta Berling” but it is created for her professional career.
And this is a picture, a portrait, from a German studio that was taken at the time she was filming “The joyless Street”. And “The joyless Street” which was a George Papst movie, is a fascinating film, it is a very leftist film of the guy who wrote the book for the movie play who was assassinated during the film by the Nazis. And it is an amazing film. Only recently can you see a four to three hour version of this. I guess it is close to the original one and what we only get. And it is definitely an interesting and complicated film, different people’s life intersecting and it is a very political film. And it is the kind of art films that interested Garbo. And if you look at the “Gösta Berling“ and “The joyless Street” as two European films, that was the type of films she was interested in doing as theatre actress. These are sophisticated high end films. These are not sort of Tome Cruise thrillers. And that is what she was interested in doing.
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