Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Movie review - "A Woman of Affairs" (1929) **

Decent enough melodrama, a stock-ish sort of plot that was ideal for star vehicle. Apparently the novel on which it was based was a lot more risque - elements of that do survive into the film version: Douglas Fairbanks Jnr seems to have been in romantically in love with Johnny Mack Brown, who appears to have had a drug habit; John Gilbert and Greta Garbo clearly have pre-marital sex which results in her falling pregnant. There are two suicides - something which ironically films might shy away from depicting today because of fear of imitation.

The story centers around "loose woman" Garbo - actually she's not so loose at the beginning, being madly in love with childhood friend Gilbert, but she is from a dissolute family of rich drunkards. Her brother Doug Fairbanks pines after Johnny Mack Brown who loves Garbo. Gilbert's dad won't let him marry Garbo, which means Gilbert's character comes across as weak and not worthy of her. She goes off with Mack Brown, who dies, she sleeps around, it all ends tragically.

The acting is quite good - Fairbanks hams it up but is effective; Garbo looks good, Gilbert is dashing. I enjoyed Lewis Stone as an imposing member of the aristocracy, a friend of Garbo's never seen father - I did feel maybe his character could have been combined with Gilbert's father.

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