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Friday, January 7, 2011

Wild Orchids (released in 1929) - starring Greta Garbo, Lewis Stone and Nils Asther

A love triangle of passion and adultery amidst the exotic location of the Javanese tea plantations. This movie was directed by Sidney Franklin and stared Greta Garbo as the passionate, frustrated wife opposite Lewis stone and Nils Asther. This movie was Garbo's seventh silent movie and 15th in her career. It also featured Swedish actor Nils Asther with whom she would star another movie in the same year.
John and Lillie Sterling are a married couple who sail to Java to explore investing options in the Javanese Tea market. John is a workaholic and very neglectful and this hurts his passionate and romantic wife. Aboard the ship, Lillie chances upon an act of violence, where a man severely manhandles his servant for a minor transgressions. This man is Prince de Gace who is enamored by this mysterious and live wire of a woman. He contrives a plan to reach the wife through the husband and develops John Sterlings acquaintance with his vast knowledge about the Tea market.
John is suitably impressed by the Prince and introduces him to his wife. Lillie recognizes the Prince, as the man who was cruel to his servant and does not encourage his attentions. This inflames his passions and the Prince pursues her more. He invites John to stay at his estate ostensibly to develop more understanding about the market and proceeds to woo Lillie. She tries to confide in her husband, but he turns a deaf ear to her entreaties. Lillie in desperation offers to accompany her husband in his professional investigations.

But John refuses her offer and leaves the plantation on his projects. The Prince intensifies his efforts and forces him upon her for a kiss. Lillie, confused about her emotions, embraces and kisses him back. John returns at this moment and the Prince sends Lillie to her room and substitutes a servant girl in his arms. But John suspicions are confirmed when he finds Lillie's earrings. An enraged John plots revenge for his humiliation.
He proposes a Tiger hunt with the Prince and before embarking on the hunt he empties the bullets from the gun. The prince realizes that his gun is empty while shooting a large man eater. He tries to flee when he finds that he would have to combat John, with a fully loaded gun. As the tiger pounces upon him John fires and the Prince gets hurt. Disgusted at his own behavior John plans to leave for America, alone. But Lillie, realizing the John's worth compared to the Casanova in Java reaffirms her love for him.
This silent movie has an amazing sound track with background noises of animals, birds, crowded streets, traffic and the eerie jungle all well laid out. This romantic drama was one of the monster hits of that year with superb performances from Greta Garbo, Nils Asther and Lewis Stone. Garbo as the younger wife of a staid 50's something man who is drawn to the excitement which the Prince offers is simply superb. Catch this movie if you can.

Wild Orchids (released in 1929) - starring Greta Garbo, Lewis Stone and Nils Asther

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