What Others Said About the Movie

David Robinson (Hollywood in the Twenties, A.S. Barnes & Co. 1968)

"It had been Garbo's own idea to adapt Michael Arlen's The Green Hat, though the expurgations demanded by contemporary Hollywood morality emasculated it (if that is, in the circumstances, the word) and reduced it to novelette. Yet the integrity of Brown's romantic vision, coupled with the intensity of the star's performance, transcend the material."

Jeanine Basinger (Silent Stars, Alfred A. Knopf, 1999)

"It boasts the usual quality production from MGM, with gowns by Adrian, sets by Cedric Gibbons, and photography by William Daniels. Gilbert and Garbo stand opposite each other in cavernous rooms done in art deco, and they wear fantastic hats, sleek coats, and supeb formal dress. Gilbert looks particularly good in a 1920's tuxedo . . . but the two of them have precious little to do. The film is more Garbo's than Gilbert's, and his role gives him only odd moments in which to shine."

Barry Paris (Garbo, University of Minnesota Press, 1994)

"Garbo is stunningly natural in every frame -- even when picking a bit of tobacco off her tongue after lighting a 'cigarette. Two scenes in particular were classics. In the first, in Gilbert's bedroom, she plops down on the worlds most inviting divan, absently twirls her loose ring, and says, 'I've been told I am like this ring -- apt to fall.' Shot from below with neo-Expressionist lighting, Gilbert sinks slowly over her, they merge for the kiss, her hand drifts down -- and the ring falls with a silent but heavy metaphorical clunk to the floor. The second magical moment, and the film's highlight, occurs toward the end when Garbo -- in the hospital after a nervous breakdown or an abortion or both -- receives a bouquet of roses from Gilbert and fondles them in a passionate pantomime of love and loss. Filmed again from a very low angle, she transfers her desire to the flowers enveloping her face and fashions one of the most poignant silent film 'arias' of all time."

The New York Times - January 21, 1929

"Not only is the narrative translated with changes only where it was obviously necessary to circumvent censorial frowns, but Miss Garbo gives a most intelligent and fascinating impersonation of that 'sad lady' . . . Mr. Gilbert does nicely as the man with whom Diana is madly in love . . . Except for his penchant for flashes of symbolism, Clarence Brown has handled this production imaginatively and resourcefully. The story is never confused, and while the reason for all the toruble may at times be somewhat incredible, the scenes are invariably beautifully photographed and admirably constructed."

Variety - January 23, 1929

"A senational array of screen names and the intriguing nature of the story ('The Green Hat') from which it was made, together with some magnificent acting by Greta Garbo by long odds the best thing she has ever done, will carry through this vague and sterilized version of Michael Arlen's erotic play. Superb techniical production and admirable photography count in its favor. But the kick is out of the material, and, worse yet, John Gilbert, idol of the flapper fans, has an utterly blah role. Most of the footage he merely stands around rather sheepishly, in fact, while the others shape the events. . . Miss Garbo saves an unfortuante situation throughout by a subtle something in her playing that suggests just the erotic note that is essential to the whole theme and story. Without her eloquent acting, the picture would go to pieces."

Return to the "A Woman of Affairs" page

Return to home page