Sunday, 9 June 2013

Camille (1936)

I'll begin this with an apology: I know I've been absent. For the entire year of 2013, I have had an average of two posts a month. That's once every two weeks. I'm a busy woman, but I can certainly double that number if I really try. So now I'm going out on the limb and doing something I don't do very much: Here comes a movie review!

Camille (1936) is a rather well-known movie, thanks, in no small part, to its main star, Greta Garbo. The movie rivals Ninotchka (1939) for Garbo's finest talking performance and it was perhaps her most significant shot at an Academy Award. The commotion towards her performance as Marguerite is, as far as I'm concerned, completely warranted. Garbo is charming, not in the mysterious, unapproachable way we were used to, but in an earthy, sweet way she has no trouble mastering. Robert Taylor, her co-star, couldn't be blamed if he fell into the background, but I'm glad to say this wasn't the case. Taylor most definitely held his own and Garbo was able to bounce off him beautifully. 

The movie was based on a novel by Alexandre Dumas, the timeless author of The Three Musketeers. But Athos, Porthos and Aramis couldn't be further from the storyline of this pure and crystalline romance. Camille tells the story of a woman who inadvertently attracts the attention of a man with not much wealth, but loads of charm to make up for it. Her intention was to flirt with a second man, a Baron, who not only is wildly attracted to her, but is willing to provide a life of luxury. As she is courted by both men, she decides to let her ambition speak louder and she chooses the richer option. However, as her health begins to ail, she is forced to face the reality that love is a much better company than money in her final hours.

Camille has the very visible fingerprint of the "woman's director" George Cukor, as Garbo is front and center as the protagonist. Her performance is gentle and with a touch of subtlety, beginning the contrast with her overacted style, typical of silent films, that had yet to disappear completely from her performances. This time she is purely a talking actress, and her facial expressions are borderline understated. It's in all possible ways a delightful performance, for which Garbo deserved many more accolades than she ended up receiving. That isn't to say that she single-handedly carried the movie through: Her supporting cast was wonderful in its own right, and permitted the star of Garbo to shine even brighter.

I highly recommend this movie even if you are not a fan of period pieces. The story transcends the test of time.

So long,


  1. This is one I've never seen, but keep meaning to see. I'll have to record it the next time it's on TCM.

    What a gorgeous photo you've posted! And a good review, too. :)

  2. Yet I love Camille (and Garbo considered it her best film), I must say that my favorite of hers is Ninotchka.
    This film is a great period piece! I've been wanting to read the book for three years, but still haven't had time. :(

  3. This is the only version of "CAMILLE" that I have ever truly liked.

  4. The novel and play were actually written by Alexandre Dumas, fils or Jr. - son of the man who wrote The Three Musketeers...