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Friday, December 31, 2010

The Kiss (released in 1929) - starring Greta Garbo, Conrad Nagel and Lew Ayres

The Kiss was Greta Garbo's and MGM's last silent movie. It is a 1929 drama film directed by Jacques Feyder and starring Greta Garbo, Conrad Nagel and Lew Ayres in his first feature film. This movie was also Garbo's last picture with Conrad Nagel. It is rumored that Garbo had to choose from two movies, the Divorce and the Kiss. Garbo opted for the Kiss and Norma Shearer starred in The Divorce which won her an Oscar. Garbo's career never had an Oscar moment and this was one of the greatest injustices in cinematic history.
Irene, a fascinating young woman is trapped in a loveless marriage with a much older Guarry. She is scared of her husbands jealous nature and silently bears the emotional abuse. A clandestine affair with a young lawyer Andre sustains her, but Irene scared of her husbands fiery nature brings the affair to a close. As they part, a heartbroken Andre leaves for Paris and Irene is once again alone with her loneliness.
Pierre, a young son of a Lyon financier Lassalle, is besotted by Irene. Lassalle is a partner of Guarry. Irene does not reciprocate Pierre's feelings and on the eve of going off to college he begs a kiss from her. She gives him a chaste kiss but Pierre forcibly takes a passionate one. Guarry returns to witness this stormy scene and attacks the youngster. In the scuffle Guarry is killed and Pierre is on the run. Lassalle forces Pierre to keep his silence about this affair.

Irene recounts the whole incident to the police and tries to keep Pierre out of the loop. Her accounts are so full of contradictions and loopholes that the police start suspecting her. Lassalle pitches in saying that Guarry was despondent about the business and was suicidal. Brought to trial Irene is defended by Andre and he gets her acquitted of all the charges. But Irene confesses to him that she indeed had killed Guarry to protect the boy's life. Andre forgives her and the two lovers reunite.
This final silent film had two sounds, the gunshot and the incessant ringing of the telephone. Belgian director Jacques Feyder used both the pantomime format and the aforementioned sound effects -- a gunshot and the incessant ringing of a telephone -- to optimum effect. The screenplay is very weak and only saving grace is Greta Garbo's acting. Garbo breathes life in to the proceedings with her society lady act who is driven to murder. Her acting makes the character's nobility very believable.
The Kiss was a silent film with a sound track and lasted only for 60 minutes. It was not a big box office success, but off late has been on the news for Garbo's luminous presence. Her compassion, love and generosity comes through her kiss with young Pierre.

The Kiss (released in 1929) - starring Greta Garbo, Conrad Nagel and Lew Ayres

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