Anna Christie (1930): 4/5
I was very excited to finally get my hands on a copy of this film after years of reading/hearing about it. Anna Christie is famously known as the film in which Garbo talks. The movie-watching world heard her voice for the very first time when she stomped into the scene, commanding the bartender to serve her a whiskey with ginger ale on the side — and commanding the audience to become even more enthralled with her than they were in her silent films.
The film was advertised using the now famed slogan “Garbo talks,” and it keeps the audience in suspense for sixteen minutes, waiting anxiously for Garbo to make her entrance.
She portrays the title character, a girl who was sent to Minnesota by her father to live with relatives when she was a young child. She returns to him at age twenty, with fifteen years of rough life under her belt and a secret on her mind. She soon meets a man who wants to marry her. Drama ensues not only between the main characters, but also within Anna as she struggles with the reality of her past.
Garbo is, of course, amazing. Her strong, gripping performance in this film allowed her to successfully transition from silents to talkies, extending her film career far beyond many of her fellow silent stars.
Though Garbo certainly steals the show, the rest of the cast is just as convincing. Marie Dressler is the most striking supporting cast member, with her spot-on performance as booze-drenched Marthy, a local friend of Anna’s father.
The one big drawback of this film is the fact that it’s filmed in such a static way. It’s based on a play, and it feels like you’re watching a play. I’m a fiend for interesting camera angles, so this one left a lot to be desired in that respect.
However, this little technical blip aside, the film is completely captivating. This is thanks in large part to the performances.
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