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“Camille” Review – Greta Garbo (Summer Under the Stars #10)

My apologies, as I’m really falling behind on this challenge! I’m trying to get caught up 🙂

Thoughts on Greta:

Before watching this film, I’d only recently seen Garbo in Ninotchka, which I enjoyed quite a bit. Oddly, I haven’t seen her in anything else but she’s a very captivating presence so I might have to watch more of her work.

TCM Movie Schedule:

  • Goesta Berling’s Saga
  • The Torrent
  • A Woman of Affairs
  • Camille
  • Anna Karenina
  • Ninotchka
  • Two-Faced Woman
  • Love
  • The Mysterious Lady
  • Anna Christie
  • Queen Christina
  • Wild Orchids
  • The Single Standard

Film Review:

Marguerite Gautier (Greta Garbo) loves the lavish lifestyle and begins a relationship with two suitors, The Baron (Henry Daniell) and Armand Duval (Robert Taylor), even though she is sick with consumption.

Camille (1936) - Turner Classic Movies

Oddly enough, my only exposure to this film was through the 1982 movie Annie, (it’s the film they go to see at the theater) so I was familiar with it. Unfortunately, I got the ending spoiled for me, but it was still interesting to watch the movie in full.

I’ve never been one for melodramatic romances, and this one is no different. The plot is incredibly sappy and the characters unlikeable, so it’s difficult to be interested in what is going on. Not to mention that it drags along at a snail’s pace.

The film starts off relatively well, the relationship between Marguerite and her dressmaker, Prudence, is fun and they play off of each other well. The dialogue is sharp, and seems slightly modern. I loved the costumes and the movie looked nice, though the cinematography could have been more unique.

Garbo is good, she’s easily the highlight of the film, but seemed out of place in 1840s Paris. Her approach to the character just didn’t feel right, especially since she obviously seemed above her bland male counterparts.

Camille (1936) directed by George Cukor • Reviews, film + cast • Letterboxd

Robert Taylor was a terrible choice for his part, he’s way too over the top and unnatural in his performance. It didn’t help that he and Garbo had little to no chemistry and their extremely rushed romance was eye-roll inducing. Also, I had such a hard time keeping track of the love interests and who was supposed to be who.

The romance stuff is honestly laughable, I hate a lot of these melodramatic “I can’t live without you” movies from the 1930s and 40s. Marguerite felt like a strong woman who didn’t need any of these men in her life, and the relationships were so rushed. It didn’t feel romantic to me at all.

There also wasn’t really a story. It felt like several moments pieced together into a movie, without a common thread. Nothing is really established to give us reason to root for or like the characters. They all seem to create their own rich people problems that I didn’t really care about.

Camille (1936) – Movie Reviews Simbasible

Something else that bothered me is that Marguerite is supposed to be dealing with a very deadly sickness. But of course she still looks amazing and it only really comes up in the film when completely necessary.

Camille (also why is it even called that?? no one in that film was named that) had a lot of potential and I liked the beginning, but it ended up not clicking with me. Unlikable characters can be really interesting, but this movie didn’t take a route that felt exciting. Instead of critiquing their choices, it seemed to make us want to feel sorry for them and I didn’t think that was the right approach.

In the end, it just feels dated and uninspired.

Superlatives:

  • Favorite Scene: The Theatre
  • Favorite Character: Prudence Duvernoy
  • Favorite Quote: “When one may not have long to live, why shouldn’t one have fancies?”
  • Garbo’s Performance: She’s definitely the best part, but doesn’t seem to be the right casting choice for her character. I would give her performance a 2.5/5.
  • Would I Recommend? Unless you really like Garbo, I’d say no.

Overall Rating:

Rating: 1 out of 5.

audrey cornell View All

Audrey is a self-proclaimed film buff who loves to watch, read, and write about movies. Her passions include queer & feminist studies, watching obscure 80s/90s and Old Hollywood films, and discovering new music. She also writes for Scribe Magazine. Check out her podcast about actors who died young!

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