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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Susan Lenox (Her Fall and Rise) (released in 1931) - starring Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Jean Hersholt and Alan Hale

This movie is an adaptation from a racy novel of the same name from David Graham Phillips. Directed by Cedric Gibbons, this early sound film has Greta Garbo and Clarke Gable in the pivotal roles.
Helga is raised by her uncle Ohlin on his farm and has to contend with a grim treacherous life as she was born out of wedlock. Ohlin plans to wed his illegitimate niece to a monstrous Mondstrum whom Helga hates. On the day of a storm Ohlin persuades Mondstrum to stay the night at the farm and he attempts to molest Helga. Fighting off his advances she runs out in to the storm, never to go back. After wandering around she hides herself on a barn and survives the storm. She is soon discovered by Rodney Spencer, an engineer who had the barn for a weekend. Having nowhere to go Helga stays with Rodney and they soon develop a liking for each other. A relationship blossoms and the lovey-dovey pair soon set a date for the wedding.
Rodney has to move out urgently on business and he promises to be back as soon as possible. Meanwhile Mondstrum and Ohlin track Helga down and she flees to save herself from their clutches. She is not able to leave any forwarding messages for Rodney and finds a hideout with a moving carnival. She christens herself as Susan Lennox and work as a dancer/ acrobat for the carnival whose boss, Burlingham has a shady reputation as a womanizer. Rodney meanwhile tracks her down and becomes livid when he comes to know about the “terms of employment”. He leaves in anger after telling her about the consequences she would face.

Susan leaves the carnival and for self preservation and survival becomes the mistress of a driven Mike Kelly who nurses political ambitions. She lives a life of luxury albeit “a kept one”. But by the quirk of fate she meets Rodney whose career has nosedived because of his drinking binges. She realizes that her feelings for him has never changed and clandestinely invites him over for a party. Rodney harboring anger and hate has heated exchanges with her before storming out embarrassing Susan in front of others.
Stricken Susan leaves the comfortable position of a “well kept woman” and tries to track down Rodney. She also meets Ian Keith, a decent honorable man who falls in love with her and proposes to her. He does not care about her checkered past and wants her present for himself. But on finding Rodney, she is momentarily torn between the pure selfless love of Keith and anger in Rodney. But she realizes that her love for Rodney is far greater and both of them reconcile to give a life together another chance.
This movie is a Greta Garbo vehicle who through her star power and acting prowess breathes life in to the role which is handicapped by a weak script. The movie has long gap of silences which bores the viewer. Apart from this the sizzling chemistry between Clark Gable and Garbo lifts the mundane proceedings to another level. This is in-spite of their mutual dislike for each other and is a hallmark of their professionalism. A romantic drama for a rainy day.

Susan Lenox (Her Fall and Rise) (released in 1931) - starring Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Jean Hersholt and Alan Hale

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