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Loosely based on the novel  ‘The Lady of the Camellias’ by Alexandre Dumas, fils, this 1936 film stars Greta Garbo as Marguerite Gautier, a Parisian courtesan, who falls in love with Armand Duval (Robert Taylor), but is promised to the ruthless Baron de Varville (Henry Daniell).  As Camille’s health starts to fail her, she must choose which man she wants to be with – but Armand’s father (Lionel Barrymore) does not want his son to marry Marguerite, and asks her to sacrifice her love in order to set him free.

This film astounded me – I had no idea that I would enjoy it so much.  It’s listed in the AFI’s top 100 romantic films, and with good reason – this is real romance, and the film is uplifting, sad, moving and sweet all at the same time.

All of the cast are great, but this is Garbo’s picture – this woman could ACT.  She was not a conventional beauty, but she was absolutely stunning and luminous in this role. Robert Taylor did a fine job as Armand, who is stunned by the force of his love for her, and confused and angry at the turn that events take.  While all of the supporting cast were good in their roles, I must mention Laura Hope Crews, as Marguerite’s friend Prudence (but like most of her friends, Prudence is only in the friendship for what she herself can get out of it).

Paris looks lovely and the costumes are divine.  The score is also lush and romantic and absolutely fitting for such a love story.  Anyone who is a fan of true romance in the movies must see this film – highly recommended.

Year of release: 1936

Director: George Cukor

Writers: Alexandre Dumas, fils (book), Zoe Atkins, Frances Marion, James Hilton

Main cast: Greta Garbo, Robert Taylor, Henry Daniell, Laura Hope Crews

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