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The Temptress

(USA 1926)



Totentanz der Liebe (GERMANY)
La tentatrice (FRANCE)
Fresterskan (SWEDEN)
La tentatrice (ITALY)
Terra de Todos (BRAZIL)
Kusicielka (POLAND)





A Cosmopolitan Production
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Picture (MGM)



Directed by Fred Niblo
Produced by Irving Thalberg (uncredited)
Scenario by Dorothy Farnum, based on  La Tierra de Todos  by Vicente Blasco-Ibañez (uncredited).
Titles by Marion Ainslee
Photographed by Gaetano Gaudio and William Daniels
Edited by Lloyd Nosler
Setrings by Cedric Gibbons and James Basevi
Wardrobe by André-ani.
Assistant Director: H. Bruce Humberstone



117 min (original)
106 min (2005 alternate version)
Silent Film
MGM Production: 265



Elena and Manuel



Greta Garbo, Antonio Moreno, Marc MacDermott, Lionel Barrymore, Armand Kaliz, Roy D'Arcy,
Robert Anderson, Francis McDonald, Hector V. Sarno, Virginia Brown Faire, Alys Murrell,
Steve Clemento, Roy Coulson Inez Gomez....



Elena aka Elena the  Marquesa de la Torre Bianca



More  HERE!



Elena (Greta Garbo), is married to Marquis Fontenoy (Marc MacDermott). She is given by her husband to a banker, so that the husband may have money to live in luxury. At a masquerade, Elena meets Manuel Robledo (Antonio Moreno), an Argentine engineer. They fall in love. Although she has had several affairs, Manuel is the first man she had really loved. When he learns she is married, he goes back to Argentina. Elena follows him there. Her husband is killed. Manuel's aides at a dam project fight over her and murder occurs. Manos Duros (Roy D'Arcy), an enemy of Manuel, dynamites the dam. Trying to repair the dam, Manuel's efforts are frustrated by a storm. Manuel blames Elena for all the trouble and goes to kill her. However, he still loves her and Elena leaves, realizing she will bring only ruin to him if she stays. Years later, Manuel is in Paris with his fiancée, Celinda (Virginia Brown Faire). He discovers that Elena is a streetwalker. Before he departs, he slips money into her purse to help her out.



Release date:  October 3, 1926
Premiere date: October 10, 1926 (Capitol Theatre in New York)
Release Date in Germany: 13.01.1928



See   HERE!



Production Dates: March–April (Stiller), June–August (Niblo) 1926
Production Location: Hollywood/Los Angeles/USA



The Stills were made during the production by Bertram (Buddy) Longworth. 360 Movie Stills were shot.
More HERE!



  Was filmed in 83 days.

  This was Garbo's only (completed) picture with, MGM's answer to Valentino, Antonio Moreno.

  Her first appearance of Lionel Barrymore.

  The direction of this movie was begun by Mauritz Stiller, Garbo's friend and adviser.
      But because of difficulties with the studio, Stiller was removed from the assignment after  10 days.
      He was replaced by director Fred Niblo.

  The filmed footage, directed by Stiller, is lost.

  Like The Temptress, this was also based on a Vicente Blasco-Ibañez novel.

  Garbo taught to dance tango for the film.

  On April, 21, 1926, while filming the "Tango-Scene", Greta got a telegram that her sister Alva died.

  Stiller insisted that Moreno shave off his mustache. Moreno said that his fans expected him to wear it.
      He said that this is his trademark. Stiller demanded that it come off and Moreno shaved it off.

  After the first preview. Thalberg arranged some re-takes with Garbo.

  An alternative ending was filmed and is available on DVD.

  Author A. Gronowicz wrote in his book Garbo: Her Story ( USA 1990) that Charlie Chaplin was working “from the beginning of 1925” on
     The Circus and had agreed to appear in The Temptress if Stiller would insert a circus scene in it (to help Chaplin defray the costs of his
     own circus film). But production on The Circus did not begin until November 1925 and so this was a false info.

  Moreno apparently balked when the director asked him to wear larger boots in order to make Garbo's feet appear more petite.



Garbo's second American Film

Her first american film, The Torrent (based on a Vicente Blasco Ibáñez novel), was a success. In her next film, Greta again played a character from an Ibáñez novel. The novel novel was La Tierra de Todos. This was another Cosmopolitan Production, distributed by MGM. Writer Dorothy Farnum, turned it into a good script, called The Temptress.
Garbo didn't want to play a "Bad Women"
Garbo had told Mayer and Thalberg that she did not want to play “bad women”. But her part in The Temptress was even more a "Theda Bara-like-Vamp", than as her part in Torrent.
Stiller assinged to direct
Even before Torrent was finished Garbo told her interpreter about her wish. She wanted Mauritz to direct her in her next american MGM film. When Borg told Thalberg and Mayer about Greta's wish, they weren't sure and thought awhile about it. Thalberg checked the MGM story department and found another Ibáñez story. The novel – La Tierra de Todos. MGM already had the film rights, since early 1925. Thalberg thought about the project and wondered if Stiller could direct this picture. On December 1, Thalberg gave his okay. Greta was overjoyed when she heard the news. Stiller was also very happy about his assignment. No he can show them what Garbo can do.
After his asignment, Stiller started re-writing Dorothy Farnum's script. Thalberg wasn't impressed with Stiller's final screenplay and his bad english. Thalberg put Farnum back on the script and she finished it by February 18, 1926. Stiller had a new vision. He wanted to open the film with a visually impressive scene. A private circus party set in Paris, which would introduce both the hero and the audience to Elena. In The Temptress, she would be required to ride a show horse side-saddle. She also needed to learn how to fall off the horse without hurting herself. Greta practiced on an old but reliable horse at the Santa Monica Stables. To keep herself fit, Greta also went on daily swims in the Pacific. .
The shooting
On March 24, they started shooting with an (still) unfinished script. Tony Gaudio was Garbo's cameraman. Now, Stiller could finally direct Greta. This was (of course), the reason why they went to Hollywood and signed the MGM contract. Filming started but already on the first day of shooting, the mood on the set wasn't good. Stiller brought many problems on the set. As he went onto the set, he complained that too many people are standing around. He asked who they are and Borg told him that those are his assistants director & producer and so on. Stiller said that they should leave the set and that he does not need them. He said that all he needed is a camera and actors. Stiller refused to have a supervisor, a script girl etc. Mayer became afraid when he heard this and thought that he had made a mistake in assigning Stiller.
Garbo's Co-Star
Just before shooting started, Stiller started an argument with Garbo's male co-star, Antonio Moreno. Moreno was a real latino. Born in Madrid. The 38 year old, made more than 90 films. Stiller looked at him and insisted that Moreno shave off his mustache. Moreno said that his fans expected him to wear it. Its his trademark. The director demanded that it come off and Moreno shaved it off. Stiller and Moreno had many problems. Some time later, Moreno complained to Thalberg about the working. He said how bad Stiller's english and directing is.
Stiller's Footage not acceptable
In April 1926, Stiller started filming the “Paris Cirque” sequence. Like Stiller wanted, the circus party set had an amazing set design. This was the right way to introduce Garbo in the film and MGM did allow him a big budget for the set. Garbo was happy to be working with Stiller, even if much trouble was on the set. After Thalberg and Mayer saw the first rushes, they were confused with Stiller footage. The scenes were in total chaos and had no order. They couldn't understand that Stiller had his own way of making a picture. He shot scenes as he wished and not necessarily in sequence. Stiller liked to shoot everything and then make the film what he wanted it to be by cutting and editing. Mayer and Thalberg found the unedited footage not acceptable. Thalberg wanted to get rid of Stiller but Mayer wanted to give him another chance. Thalberg called Stiller to his office and tried to talk with him. He wanted Stiller to work more in a orderly way. But Stiller, who couldn't speak English well enough, could not explain what he was trying to do. Stiller was deeply sad and disappointed. He had the feeling that they wanted him to teach how to direct. Stiller said that they brought him here cos they liked his methods and no they don't want his methods.
Trouble went on
Filming went on and so went the trouble between Stiller and Moreno. It became more and more difficult for Stiller to concentrate. On April 22, Stiller and Moreno had a big controversy and Moreno stormed off the set. But he returned to the set soon after and went on working on the "Tango-Scene".
Greta's sister dies
Some time later Stiller was handed an envelope. Stiller raised his arm and stopped the action. Garbo went to him and looked at the envelope. She read it and started crying. The message told her that her sister Alva, has died in Sweden. After a while she told Stiller to get on filming. They made some more takes but than she was driven to her home. She didn't come to work the following days but the studio wanted her to come back as soon as possible. MGM send her a message that they feel sorry but the “Show must go on!” Greta was unhappy and even angry. She could not travel home to Sweden. Out of loyalty to Stiller, she returned to work. Years later, Greta heard that Stiller already got the telegram, informing Alva's death, 24 hours earlier. We will never know the reasons.
Stiller is fired
On April 29,after 4 weeks of shooting, Thalberg wanted to talk with Stiller. It is said that they had a big discussion. Thalberg wanted to replace Stiller as director for The Temptress. A nervous Garbo was waiting.Stiller left the office and gave Garbo the news. Thalberg had fired him from the film. Greta and Stiller were heartbroken.
New Director
On, May 3, Fred Niblo stared work as the new director. After many meetings they decided to continue filming with the script as it stood. Thalberg then decided to scrap and re-write all of Stiller's scenes. He also decided to replace cameraman Tony Gaudio with William Daniels. He replaced actor H. B. Warner with Marc MacDermott (as Fontenoy). New costumes were made and Moreno restored his mustache.
Garbo fell into depression
Everyone seemed to be happy, apart from Garbo and Stiller. Stiller, alone in Santa Monica, had sunk into a deep depression. Greta was like broken into pieces. She thought she couldn't go on. Without Stiller to guide her, she was beside herself. It is said that she walked the floor, in her house, until daybreak. Sometimes in desperation she would knock her head against the wall. Garbo's Swedish friends tried to comfort her but she closed her door to them. The new director tried to cheer her up but this couldn't help either. Garbo took a small break from filming.
Garbo back on the set
When she returned to the film, Niblo had finished many scenes. Garbo now had to re-shoot all of the scenes, she already made with Stiller. The entire opening sequence was re-shot by Niblo. In the new version, Greta is introduced not on a white horse but in a dark opera box at a masked ball. Garbo finished the film on July 26, four months after she started filming it. Stiller was going to do a new film with Paramount and Pola Negri. Thalberg told Greta that she was going to do a new movie soon. He told her that she would star co-star along with John Gilbert, MGM's biggest star. Greta told him that she didn't want to do another temptress role and film a new movie so soon.

In late August, Garbo and Stiller attended a preview of The Temptress. Stiller wasn't happy to see his scenes re-shot and some time later walked off. Greta described The Temptress as dreadful! She wasn't happy with her scenes. The actress said that she was feeling low, tired and couldn't sleep. She said that everything was crazy but the basic problem was that I'm not really an actress. Thalberg may have agreed because he did arrange re-takes. An alternative ending was filmed too, which was completed one week before the film premiere. The film ended up costing $669,211, that was far too much for earning profit. The Temptress premiered at the Capitol Theatre in New York on October 10, 1926. It broke box-office records and the critics were good aswell. Garbo turned into a star.



Budget: 669.000 Dollar
Gross: USA: 587.000 Dollar, Non-USA: 378.000 Dollar, World: 965.000 Dollar
Loss: 43.000 Dollar.



Ruth Harriet Louise made the portraits during the filming of  The Temptress.
More  HERE!




I want to go on record as saying that Greta Garbo in The Temptress knocked me for a loop. I had seen Miss Garbo once before, in The Torrent. I had been mildly impressed by her visualeffectiveness. In The Temptress, however, this effectiveness proves positively devastating. She may not be the best actress on the screen. I am powerless to formulate an opinion on her dramatic technique. But there is no room for argument as to the efficacy of her allure.... [She] qualifies herewith as the official Dream Princess of the Silent Drama Department of Life.
New York Times:
Greta Garbo, the accomplished Swedish actress who graced the pictorial translation of Torrent , wins new honors at the Capitol in the version of another story by the Spanish author.... None of the figurantes in the film appears to be in the least conscious of the camera. There are moments when Miss Garbo reflects a characteristic mood by the slightest movement of one of her eyelids.... Miss Garbo is not only remarkably well suited for the role. But with a minimum of gestures and an unusual restraint in her expressions, she makes every scene in which she appears a telling one. She is attractive and svelte of figure. She gives an emphatically effective performance in her impersonation of Elena's heartlessness.
New York Herald Tribune:
This is the first time we have seen Miss Garbo and she is a delight to the eyes! We may also add that she is a magnetic woman and a finished actress. In fact, she leaves nothing to be desired. Such a profile, such grace, such poise, and most of all, such eyelashes. They swish the air at least a half-inch beyond her languid orbs. Miss Garbo is not a conventional beauty, yet she makes all other beauties seem a little obvious.
New York Mirror:
Greta Garbo vitalizes the name part of this picture. She is the Temptress. Her tall, swaying figure moves Cleopatra-ishly from delirious Paris to the virile Argentine. Her alluring mouth and volcanic, slumbrous eyes enfire men to such passion that friendships collapse.
December, 1926, While this Vicente Blasco Ibañez story is crammed full of melodramatic action – much of it preposterous – Greta Garbo makes the proceedings not only believable but compelling. Miss Garbo scored in The Torrent, also a messy Ibañez tale. But it takes The Temptress to prove definitely her abilities. The background switches form Paris to the Argentine. Elena, the wife of a weak South American, has the unhappy faculty of making all men her slaves. They all fall: bankers, bandits, and heroic bridge builders. Suicide, ruin and disaster follow in her wake. And so she ends, a derelict of the Paris streets. Such a role strains at the probabilities, but Miss Garbo makes Elena highly effective. She is beautiful, she flashes and scintillates with a singular appeal. From the moment Robledo, fresh from the Argentine, meets Elena at a masked ball in Paris, passions simmer and smoulder. Tragedy stalks after Elena – but she follows Robledo to the Argentine. Robledo repulses her, despite his love, but tragedy still follows. The great dam is swept away by the tropical torrents and the villain's TNT. There is a whip duel, between Robledo and the scoundrelly bandit, Manos Duros. Which is something new in film fights. Director Fred Niblo hits a directorial high spot in Robledo's return to the Argentine. Robledo is galloping across the pampas. Antonio Moreno is effective as Robledo. But Roy D'Arcy does entirely too much mugging as the sneering bandit. As Elena's wealthy patron, Marc MacDermott provides a neat bit. However, The Temptress is all Greta Garbo. Nothing else matters.
Picture Play:

January, 1927. Look back and think – if you can – of any actress who has made a more profound impression than Greta Garbo in but one picture. You can't. Neither can I. That is why it gives me a deal of satisfaction to record her great improvement in The Temptress. She is a far finer artist in this, and the picture is much more satisfactory than The Torrent. Though I still think her true metier will be found in more restrained stories, than come from the pen of that literary hash slinger, Blasco Ibañez. The Temptress might have been terrible, but thanks to a fine scenario by Dorothy Farnum, excellent direction by Fred Niblo, and the support of Antonio Moreno and Lionel Barrymore. Greta comes out with flying colors. And these elements of good fortune do not lessen her own dazzling gifts but only emphasize them. The story is all about Elena, a trouble maker who finds the means to dress gorgeously. She goes through life inflaming gentlemen. Though the subtitles would have us believe she is innocent of the devastating effect she creates. There is one, however, who remains unyielding to her wiles. When he does break down, Elena steals away. Rather than bring to him the ruin all the others have suffered. Years later they meet in Paris, and in this sequence Greta Garbo's acting is a poignant revelation. The Temptress is exciting and colorful. If you like “refined” vampires, Greta Garbo will give you one you won't forget. Antonio Moreno is her equal in every scene.



More  HERE!



After only 4 days of shooting, Stiller handed Greta a telegram with awful news. Her sister Alva died at the age of 23 in Stockholm. Alva's health had been poor for some time. Upon hearing of it, Lillian Gish sent flowers to Garbo. Greta came to thank Gish at her MGM set. Years later, Gish recalled: "Tears came to her eyes. I couldn't speak Swedish so I put my arms around her and we both cried." Garbo had never suspected how seriously ill Alva really was.



At first, Stiller was assinged to direct the film. He started filming on March 24 but was fired on April 29 and replaced by director Fred Niblo. Not much is known about Stiller's filmed material. One of Stiller's filmed scenes was complete different introduction for Greta's character, Elena. It is said that Elena's first appearance in the “Paris Cirque” sequence, was just beautyfull. In Stiller's circus party scene, Elena (Garbo) enters the scenario on a huge white horse. She is dressed in a tailored white riding outfit, complete with stencilled boots and a kinky riding crop. Stiller filmed many great scenes but his directed footage is lost. After Stiller was fired, director Fred Niblo re-shot all of Stiller's scenes. He gave the film a more American flair and Moreno got his mustache back. After the first preview, on august 1926, Thalberg arranged some re-takes with Garbo. They also filmed an alternative ending which can be found on the DVD.



  Elena enters the scenario on a huge white horse.

  Antonio Moreno without his trademark mustache.


Based on the novel  La Tierra de Todos  (The Earth Belongs to Everyone), by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez.



More  HERE!



Available on DVD.


Greta Garbo: A Cinematic Legacy – by Mark A. Vieira
(Harry N. Abrams, Incorporated, New York 2005).
This is the best and most accurate book
about Garbo's-Films.


Karen Swenson – A life Apart
Barry Paris – Garbo
IMDB – International Movie Database
plus many other books, magazines and internet sites.
Film - Introduction  


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