MGM's high camp 'funereal' decor, the judicious adaptation of Dumas' play, Cukor's gay sensibility in directing women, and William Daniels' atmospheric photography - all these made Camille Garbo's most popular film. Her aura of self-knowledge, inner calm and strength of purpose intermeshed finely with elements of the production to produce a tragedy of love-as-renunciation which was closer in spirit to Hedda Gabler than to Dumas. As Roland Barthes says of the character: 'Marguerite is aware of her alienation, that is to say she sees reality as alienation...she knows herself to be an object but cannot think of any destination for herself other than that of ornament in the museum of the masters'. The camera's reliance upon 'The Face' of Garbo was never more obvious than in the final shot of the film. It is through the face that death is signalled, in a long-held close-up of Camille's last few moments that fades into darkness on the point of her demise.
Cast and crew
Zoe Akins, Frances Marion, James Hilton
Greta Garbo Robert Taylor Lionel Barrymore Elizabeth Allan Henry Daniell Laura Hope Crews