Starring Greta Garbo and Antonio Moreno
While this Vicente Blasco Ibanez story is crammed full of melodramatic action much of it preposterous Greta Garbo makes the proceedings not only believable but compelling. Miss Garbo scored in "The Torrent," also a messy Ibanez tale, but it takes "The Temptress" to prove definitely her abilities.
The background switches form Paris to the Argentine. Elena, the wife of a weak South American, has the unhappy faculty of making all men her slaves. They all fall: bankers, bandits, and heroic bridge builders. Suicide, ruin and disaster follow in her wake. And so she ends, a derelict of the Paris streets. Such a role strains at the probabilities, but Miss Garbo makes Elena highly effective. She is beautiful, she flashes and scintillates with a singular appeal.
From the moment Robledo, fresh from the Argentine, meets Elena at a masked ball in Paris, passions simmer and smoulder. Tragedy stalks after Elena but she follows Robledo to the Argentine. Robledo repulses her, despite his love, but tragedy still follows. The great dam is swept away by the tropical torrents and the villain's TNT.
There is a whip duel, between Robledo and the scoundrelly bandit, Manos Duros, which is something new in film fights. Director Fred Niblo hits a directorial high spot in Robledo's return to the Argentine, galloping across the pampas. Antonio Moreno is effective as Robledo, but Roy D'Arcy does entirely too much mugging as the sneering bandit. As Elena's wealthy patron, Marc MacDermott provides a neat bit. However, "The Temptress" is all Greta Garbo. Nothing else matters.
starring Greta Garbo and Antonio Moreno
Look back and think if you can of any actress who has made a more profound impression than Greta Garbo in but one picture. You can't. Neither can I. That is why it gives me a deal of satisfaction to record her great improvement in "The Temptress." She is a far finer artist in this, and the picture is much more satisfactory than "TheTorrent," though I still think her true metier will be found in more restrained stories than come from the pen of that literary hash slinger, Blasco Ibanez.
'The Temptress" might have been terrible, but thanks to a fine scenario by Dorothy Farnum, excellent direction by Fred Niblo, and the support of Antonio Moreno and Lionel Barrymore, Greta comes out with flying colors. And these elements of good fortune do not lessen her own dazzling gifts, but only emphasize them.
The story is all about Elena, a trouble maker who finds the means to dress gorgeously, and who goes through life inflaming gentlemen, though the subtitles would have us believe she is innocent of the devastating effect she creates. There is one, however, who remains unyielding to her wiles, and when he does break down, Elena steals away rather than bring to him the ruin all the others have suffered. Years later they meet in Paris, and in this sequence Greta Garbo's acting is a poignant revelation.
'The Temptress" is exciting, colorful, and if you like "refined" vampires, Greta Garbo will give you one you won't forget. Antonio Moreno is her equal in every scene.
For more information,
see "The Temptress" as our "Feature of the Month"
Return to reviews page