Thursday, April 20, 2017

Anna Christie (1930)

Anna Christie is a 1930 Pre-Code drama film based on a 1922 play of the same name by Eugene O’Neill.  It was released by MGM based on an adaptation of the play by Frances Marion, a popular screenwriter at the time who wrote such films as Camille, Dinner at Eight, the silent film The Wind, The Champ, and many more.  This film is directed by Clarence Brown, stars Greta Garbo, and is remembered by classic film lovers for being her first talkie!  MGM held off until 1930 (talkies began in 1928).  It also features memorable performances from Marie Dressler, George F. Marion, and Charles Bickford.
                The film starts off with George F. Marion’s character, Chris, sailor and father of Greta Garbo’s character, Anna.  He is there with Marie Dressler’s character, Marthy, before finding out Anna was on her way to meet him at age 20 for the first time since age 5.  Marthy meets Anna when she arrives, but leaves Chris’ barge in order to keep away from Anna so as not to badly influence her, as Marthy is a self-described “tramp” and alcoholic.  Anyway, when Garbo/Anna first steps into the room, in a bar, and asks for a drink, you know you’re in for a treat.  Garbo pulls the film together at all stops along the way, as a memorable Swedish-American girl with a rough upbringing spent on a farm and, later, as a prostitute.

                Anna’s father, Chris, takes her out on his barge to recover from her long trip, and we watch as she uses the opportunity to cleanse herself of her past as best as she can.  Her father, of course, does not know that she worked as a prostitute, at least not yet.  At one point, Charles Bickford’s character, Matt, is rescued out at sea by Chris and Anna, along with others.  It is not long before Matt and Anna fall in love, but can Anna live with herself not telling the man she loves about her past?  And if she tells him, what will happen?  And what’s to say for Anna’s father, who doesn’t want Anna to end up with another sailor?  These are the big questions, and the answers I’m not going to spoil.  This film was nominated for three Academy Awards including Best Actress for Greta Garbo, and I can see why!  I give it 3.5 out of 4 stars!  If you’re a fan of Greta Garbo and haven’t seen this yet, add it to your list today!

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