Anna Christie (1930) + (1931).rtf (Size: 1.37 GB) (Files: 4)
Anna Christie (1930) + (1931).rtf
Anna Christie (1930) DVDRip (SiRiUs sHaRe).avi
Anna Christie (1931) DVDRip (SiRiUs sHaRe).avi
Anna Christie (1930) and (1931)
The two Anna Christie movies are extremely interesting in terms of cinema history. Here we have the same story, the same sets and same leading actress but with different director's and languages. Directors Clarence Brown and Jacques Feyder each have their own take on the story and it is interesting to see the differences between the two.
Garbo appears more relaxed and natural under Jacques Feyder's direction than under Clarence Brown's, and her silent movie mannerisms have all but disappeared, which made her transition to sound complete. The strength she brought to the character remains here, although it has been softened, and Garbo reveals more of Anna's vulnerability. The entire cast, with the exception of Garbo, is different from the previous version of the film, and Garbo benefits from not having to compete with Marie Dressler, who stole every scene she was in during the English-language version. In Feyder's film, Garbo holds the center of attention throughout, although the three supporting players, particularly the father, gave excellent performances.
Feyder's direction was more assured than Clarence Brown's, and his use of the camera and editing techniques did not seem as constrained by the new sound process as did those of Brown. The film moves with more fluidity than the English language adaptation, and the static nature of the first film has been replaced with a flow that maintains viewer interest. Even William Daniels cinematography seems improved over his filming of the Brown version. He captured Garbo's luminescence and the atmospherics of the docks with style. Also, the screenplay adaptation for the European audience made Anna's profession quite clear from the start, and the explicitness clarifies for viewers who were unfamiliar with the play as to what was only implied in the Brown filming. However, the film was made before the Production Code was introduced, which made the censorship puzzling.
Garbo's Oscar nomination for "Anna Christie" was always somewhat mystifying, and I suspected that the nod was given more in recognition of her relatively smooth transition to sound films than for her performance. However, some of the Academy voters may have seen the German-language version of the film, and they realized, as will contemporary viewers, that her "Anna Christie" under Feyder's direction was definitely Oscar worthy.
Old sailor Chris Christofferson eagerly awaits the arrival of his grown daughter Anna, whom he sent at five years old to live with relatives in Minnesota. He has not seen her since, but believes her to be a decent and respectably employed young woman. When Anna arrives, however, it is clear that she has lived a hard life in the dregs of society, and that much of spirit has been extinguished. She falls in love with a young sailor rescued at sea by her father, but dreads to reveal to him the truth of her past. Both father and young man are deluded about her background, yet Anna cannot quite bring herself to allow them to remain deluded.
Greta Garbo ... Anna Christie
Charles Bickford ... Matt Burke
George F. Marion ... Chris Christofferson
Marie Dressler ... Marthy Owens
James T. Mack ... Johnny the Harp
Lee Phelps ... Larry - the Bartender
Greta Garbo ... Anna Christie
Theo Shall ... Matt Burke
Hans Junkermann ... Chris Christofferson
Salka Viertel ... Marthy Owens (as Salka Steuermann)
For Greta Garbo's first talking picture, MGM wisely chose Eugene O'Neill's Pultizer Prize winning 1921 play ANNA Christie.
Also wisely, the producers backed Garbo up with not one but two members of the Original Broadway Cast (George Marion as Anna's father, Chris, and James T. Mack as Johnny the Priest - transmuted to "Johnny the Harp" for films so as not to offend).
This little change is interesting. Like too many films accused (by those who want MOVIES to be MOVIES and ignore their origins) of being "little more than filmed stage plays," the problem is not the play but the movie makers who wouldn't be more faithful to the property. By diluting a great cinematic stage work so it wouldn't offend anyone, or opening it up because they COULD, too many lose the very qualities which made the piece worth filming in the first place.
Fortunately, the respect the studio had for both O'Neill and Garbo allowed ANNA Christie to survive the normally destructive process admirably in Frances Marion's generally sensitive screen adaptation. Wonder of wonders, Marion even allows the POINT of the scene where Garbo's Anna reveals her past on "the farm" to the man she badly wants to marry and the father who sent her there in tact! What the League of Decency must have thought of that!
The source play's greatest problem has always been that Chris's friend Marthy tends to walk away with the first act and then disappears from the last two so that Anna can take stage - the two sides of the genuinely good woman men don't always recognize.
The perfectly cast Marie Dressler (who had cut her teeth on the Broadway stage as well before going to Hollywood) is the perfect balance for Garbo's Anna in this area as well and the fast moving film at only 90 minutes, doesn't allow us too much time to miss her - one of the few benefits from atmosphere being shown rather than eloquently described in the original - AND screenwriter Marion is wise enough to stray from O'Neill to bring Dressler back for a touching scene two thirds of the way through the film that will remind many of Julie Laverne's second act appearance in SHOW BOAT.
Anna and Marthy's early scene together on screen (16 minutes into the film) taking each other's measure and setting up all the tension of the rest of the story is among the most affecting scenes in the entire piece. Not to be missed.
ANNA Christie is great tragic play and a good film drama. It's hard to imagine that a latter day remake, which would almost certainly lose the grit and atmosphere of this 1930 remake (it was first filmed without sound in 1923 - also with George Marion's original Broadway Chris) could improve on this excellent filming.
The internal scenes hew closest to the play, but the exteriors shouldn't be missed by anyone with an eye to atmosphere. While the background screen work is not to modern technical standards, the backgrounds give a better glimpse than most films of the era of the actual world in which the screen play is set (especially in the New York harbor).
Nearly all Garbo's naturalistic performances of the sound era have held up superbly (only the too often parodied death scene from CAMILLE, 7 years later, will occasionally draw snickers because of the heavy handed direction and the parodies), but this ANNA Christie, together with the variety of her 1932 films, MATA HARI and GRAND HOTEL, and the sublime Lubitsch touch on her 1939 comedy, NINOTCHKA ("Garbo laughs!"), surely stand as her best.
O'Neill fans who are taken with this play at the edge of his lauded "sea plays," should track down the fine World War II shaped film released in the year before the U.S. entered the conflict, THE LONG VOYAGE HOME (1940). It is almost as skillfully drawn from those sea plays as this one is from ANNA Christie, and features a youngish John Wayne in one of his rare non-Westerns supporting a fine cast of veteran actors showing him the way.
Based on a Eugene O'Neill play, "Anna Christie" was filmed at a time of transition in Hollywood from the silent era to sound. Because of the technical limitations imposed by the new sound process, the film is static visually and harsh aurally. Despite some atmospheric shots, director Clarence Brown rarely moved the camera and rarely framed his actors in anything but a medium shot. Contemporary viewers unaccustomed to films of the late 20s and early 30s will likely fidget at the monotonous visuals and scratchy soundtrack.
"Anna Christie" was also a transitional film for Greta Garbo. In her first sound feature, Garbo at times reverts to the mannerisms of the silent era. However, her voice meshed perfectly with her established image, and her performance was effective, if not among her best. The film's scene stealer was Marie Dressler, who walked off with the movie whenever she was on screen. While not a subtle performance, Dressler created a colorful character with substantial depth in her few scenes. Charles Bickford and George Marion provided able support to what was certainly a major production effort by MGM to transition one of their most valuable stars from the silents to the talkies.
For the period, the film presents a a strong female character at its core. Anna resists the efforts of both her father and her boyfriend to control her life. When she reveals to both men what she had been required to do in the past in order to survive, she is prepared for whatever reaction she may get. Although Garbo makes it apparent what she wants the men to say, her character is strong enough to get on with her life with or without men involved.
Anna Christie certainly matches some of the other strong characters in the Garbo gallery such as Queen Christina, who may want the love of a man and may be willing to sacrifice for it, but are strong and independent enough to survive without it and not suffer the fate of the Marie Dressler character. While "Anna Christie" creaks today and at times requires an effort to watch, the film is a valuable historical work. Certainly anything with Garbo is worth watching, and when "Garbo talks" the audience still listens, despite the clumsy technical production.
After Garbo's introduction to sound in Clarence Brown's "Anna Christie", Jacques Feyder made a German version of the movie where all of the cast, except for Garbo, were different. While the American version is still more available in the USA and most of the American viewers have primarily seen this version, the Germna "Anna Christie" is more likely to be viewed in Europe. As I have seen both films, I feel the right to compare the two closely-knit productions. Is Jacques Feyder's film different? Is it better than Clarence Brown's?
In this analysis, I would like to focus first on what the both movies have in common. They have identical sets, very similar scripts and the same chronologically presented scenes. Here, you also find the story of the young woman who comes back to her father after years of absence and is trying to start a new life. Here, you also have the humorous, though a bit shorter, sequence in the amusement park. However, when emphasizing Garbo herself, I address the first difference. She does not appear to cause such a curiosity while talking. The viewer concentrates more on her acting than on the way she speaks, which occurred, most probably, to 1931 viewers. Garbo was very good in American film and she is also very good here. Yet, to me, she seems even more genuine in the German version. It is noticeable that Garbo does not focus on the way she says the words that much (the effort that was artificially created by the sensation: GARBO TALKS!). Her German is not very well pronounced; yet no one cares: everything is perfectly understood. Therefore, I can easily say the same I did in my American version comment: Skaal Greta Garbo!
Yet, the film differs in one very important issue: the rest of the cast. Here comes the question: which portrayal seems more captivating, which one is better for sure? The differences are filled with varieties. Salka Viertel (or Salka Steuerman), Garbo's lifelong friend, does not do the equally great job as Marie Dressler in the role of Marthy Owens. She is not bad, she is different, sometimes overacts (from today's perspective) but is no longer that genuine in the role as Marie Dressler who still amuses us and whose moments have absolutely stood a test of time. Some people even claim that Dressler was better than Garbo in the film and that opinion, though appears to be questionable of course, carries some truth. Theo Shall is more sympathetic as Matt than Charles Bickford but when applied to him, this is not the matter of performance so much as the mater of looks.
Who shines in the German "Anna Christie", who is really worth greatest attention is Hans Junkermann in the role of Chris Christopherson, Anna's father. George F. Marion vs Hans Junkermann is like a day vs night difference. Junkermann portrays a real alcohol addict, a man with hopes, with fears, who overdoes the care of his daughter. The scene of Anna's first meeting with her father is truly magnificent, the opening moment of Chris' conversation with Marthy is memorable particularly thanks to his facial expressions and a flawless performance. Junkermann is the Chris whom you like, who you sometimes laugh at, whom you sympathize with, who leaves a picture of a calm alcoholic sailor in your mind. Great!
If you have seen the American "Anna Christie" and have a chance to get the German version, I would highly recommend to you this movie because it's a slightly different look at the story, a nice and accurate way to compare, a fine enrichment to Clarence Brown's movie and, foremost, a wonderful chance to discover a marvel of performance: Hans Junkermann's. Skaal or Prost, Hans Junkermann!
This version is much better than the English-language version: brisker pacing (although very, very slow by modern standards), generally better performances, and even Eugene O'Neill's somewhat ponderous dialog is rendered more believable in the subtitles. While Marie Dressler's performance in the English version is fabulous, Salka Viertel's in the German version is also very, very good, just different. Garbo seems more natural in the German version, perhaps because she was at that time more comfortable speaking German than speaking English. Garbo's acting style may have been a bit old-fashioned, but she was never dull in any film. A true star.
# The play "Anna Christie," by Eugene O'Neill, opened on Broadway in New York City, New York, USA on 2 November 1921 and closed in April 1922 after 177 performances. George F. Marion and James T. Mack originated their movie roles in the play. Marion also starred in the 1923 movie version. The play was revived 3 times, the last in 1993 with Natasha Richardson, Rip Torn, Liam Neeson and Anne Meara.
# German-language version, filmed directly after Anna Christie (1930), using the same sets.
# The original play opened in New York in 1922.
# The second scene of the English language version, an exterior shot with George Marion and Marie Dressler drunkenly traveling from the coal barge to the bar, is used in the German language version as the first scene. There is overdubbing in German and the film is darkened so that the faces of Marion and Dressler are not identifiable.