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(USA 1926)



Es war (GERMANY)
La chair et le diable (FRANCE)
La carne e il diavolo (ITALY)
A Carne e o Diabo (BRAZIL )
Symfonia zmyslów (POLAND)






Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
MGM Production 282



Directed by Clarence Brown.
Produced by Irving Thalberg (uncredited).
Screenplay by Benjamin F. Glazer, based on the novel The Undying Past by Hermann Sudermann.
Titles by Marion Ainslee.
Photographed by William Daniels.
Edited by Lloyd Nosler.
Settings by Cedric Gibbons and Frederic Hope.
Wardrobe by André-ani.
Assistant Director: Charles Dorian.



113 Minutes
Silent film
MGM Production: 265



The classic "lighting a cigarette" scene.



John Gilbert, Greta Garbo, Lars Hanson, Barbara Kent, William Orlamond,
George Fawcett,  Eugene Besserer, Marc MacDermott, Marcelle Corday, Polly Moran...



Felicitas von Kletzingk



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Leo von Sellenthin (John Gilbert) and Ulrich von Kletzingk (Lars Hanson) have been friends for many years and have estates near each other in Austria. Leo has been having an affair with Felicitas (Greta Garbo), the wife of Count von Rhaden (Marc MacDermott). The Count learns of this, and Leo kills him in a duel. Leo is forced to leave for America, and Ulrich marries Felicitas, unaware of her affair with Leo. A few years later, Leo returns when he learns he will not be punished because of the duel. Felicitas again lures him into an affair. When Ulrich finds out, she says that Leo tempted her. Ulrich and Leo have a duel. Felicitas, not wanting Leo killed, hastens across an ice-packed river to prevent it. She falls through the ice and drowns. Leo wounds Ulrich in the duel, but nurses him back to health and the two become friends again.



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Release date: December 26, 1926
Premiere date: January 9, 1927 (Capitol Theatre in New York)



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Production Dates: August 9 –September 28, 1926.
Production Location: Hollywood/Los Angeles/USA



The Stills were made during the production by Bertram (Buddy) Longworth. 160 Movie Stills were shot.
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  Filmed in 43 days.

  This was Garbo's first film with John Gilbert.

  This film marked Lars Hanson's first American film appearance with her

  Garbo went on strike for a better salary from MGM after Flesh and the Devil was completed.

  John Gilbert and Greta fell in love while they were filming this movie.

  Garbo didn't want do this film because it was so quickly made after her last film.
      Greta told Mayer that she she still was suffering from the death of her sister.

  Lars Hanson already co-starred with Greta in Gösta Berling Saga.

  Garbo was paid $600 per week.

  Garbo had no double to take her place for her last scene in the lake.The water was not heated.

  Gilbert was paid $10.000 per week.

  A happy ending was filmed for the picture's general release.

  During filming, Greta turned 21 years old.

  In 1950, director Clarence Brown suggested Garbo  and MGM to re-make the film.



Greta's second American film

Even before The Temptress was finished, Garbo was informed about her next movie. It was going to be a film based on the german Hermann Sudermann novel, Es war (It was). The Undying Past was the original american title. Greta wasn't happy with her two American films. She wanted  to be a good  actress, just as good as Lilian Gish, she said one day.
John Gilbert
Thalberg told her that she would star co-star with John Gilbert. Gilbert was MGM's biggest star.Garbo had seen Gilbert him in  The Big Parade (USA 1925) and liked it. He had one box office hit after another. Since November 1925, MGM writers were working on a new script for John Gilbert. In April 1926, Thalberg assigned Benjamin (“Barney”) Glazer, to finish a script. In July, Glazer gave Thalberg his finished script, re-titled Flesh and the Devil.
Greta didn't want to play a Temptress again
Greta I did not like the story. She didn't want to  be a silly temptress again. She couldn't see any sense in getting dressed up and doing nothing but tempting men in pictures. Greta tried to talk with Mayer. She told him that she is dead tired, sick and cannot  do another picture right away. Than she said that she is  unhappy about her picture last picture. Mayer didn't understand and ignored her. Greta than turned to Stiller for guidance but he was busy with his Hotel Imperial production. When Stiller was finally able to break free and meet with her, he told her to be strong. Garbo didn't like the costume fittings. Her costumer complained that she had many dislikes. She also missed rehearsals with director Clarence Brown and did not answer her telephone calls.
Greta wanted to go home
On August 4, Thalberg informed her that she has to appear at his office. He wanted to talk with her about her part in Flesh and the Devil. Garbo did not go. Five days later filming started without her. Mayer sent Sven-Hugo Borg to visit Garbo. He saw a changed Garbo. It seems she didn't care for anything, she said that she wanted to go home. Borg told Mayer and Thalberg about it.Mayer was angry about her, he said that an actress does not behave this way.They wondered if she really would break her contract and leave America. On August 13, Mayer again wrote her a message.Garbo again did not reply.  Mayer  was angry about her.He was the one who takes all the risks and pays her the salary. He thought that her salary was far below what she is worth. Mayer told Borg that he can tell her that she can go back where she came from. After Borg told Greta about it, she called her lawyer. But they said that its better that she should go back to the studio and start working on the film.
Garbo and Gilbert
On August 17, She returned to the studio. This was also the day, Garbo and Gilbert met for the first time. Director Clarence Brown suggested to Gilbert that he should walk over to her and introduce himself. “To hell with her,” he said.Gilbert didn't like her very much. Garbo arrived and they met on the dark MGM lot. “Hello, Greta”, John Gilbert said. “It is Miss Garbo,” she said and walked off. Filming started without any problems. The first scene they shot was the train station scene, where Greta' & John's character first see each other. That following weekend, Garbo met Stiller and some friends. She talked about Gilbert and it seemed that it was love at first sight. Back on the set, Thalberg heard and saw the the electricity between Garbo and Gilbert. He assigned Frances Mari on to re-write scenes with an eye for passion. Garbo liked to work with Gilbert. She started feeling better.
The Director
Director Brown also threated Garbo very nice. He understood her acting possibilities and  respected her. Brown would gave her the time she needed. The director was a very quiet man and would talk to the actors in the softest voice. He was especially careful with Garbo and would almost whisper his instructions to her.
A Romance was going
The second scene Brown directed was Garbo and Gilbert dancing, in a crowded ballroom. In their third scene together, they are sitting in the moonlight and Gilbert lights her a cigarette. After filming the first take, Garbo and Gilbert both burst out laughing. Then they went more  passionate. When they got into that first love scene, nobody else was there. Those two were alone in a world of their own. Garbo and Gilbert next had to play the scene in which Leo (Gilbert) visits Felicitas (Garbo) for an afternoon of lovemaking. Their lovemaking was so intense that it surpassed anything anyone had seen. Sometimes they did not even hear Brown say ‘Cut!'. They went  on and on. After a while, everyone new that they had a romance going. This news spread around America. Thalberg told  Brown to create for more love scenes. Clarence Brown said that he has been made the greatest love scenes that have ever been screened. Gilbert helped Garbo much. He made many film sand had much experience. He watched everything she did and corrected it. Garbo was so thankful.
The Premiere

Shooting on Flesh and the Devil ended on 28 September 1926.For months fan magazines, gossip columnists and radio had been talking about the big love affair. The public was eager to see the movie. Flesh and the Devil finally premiered at New York's Capitol Theatre on January, 1927. The critics were great but some said that the audience roars with laughter about some Gilbert scenes and in the wrong places. MGM knew, that this was a typical midwestern audiences reaction. So, MGM shot an alternate ending for the film. The film was a big hit and is now an ultimate classic.



Budget: 373.000 Dollar
Gross: USA: 603.000 Dollar, Non-USA: 658.000 Dollar, World: 1.261.000 Dollar.
Profit: 466.000 Dollar.
Garbo's Salary: $600 per week.
Gilbert's Salary: $10.000 per week.



Ruth Harriet Louise made the portraits during the filming of  Flesh and the Devil.
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New York Times:

Produced with admirable artistry, both in the unfurling of the chronicle and in the character delineation, Flesh and the Devil ... is a compelling piece of work in which there are but a few conventional movie notes.... Miss Garbo is undeniably alluring as Felicitas.
Here is the picture filmed when the romance of Jack Gilbert and Greta Garbo was at its height. Naturally, the love scenes (and there are several thousand feet of them) are smoulderingly fervent.... Miss Garbo gives a flashing performance of Felicitas, Gilbert is a dashing Leo, although he does over shade some of his scenes, and Lars Hanson is excellent as Ulrich. .
Here is a picture that is the pay-off when it comes to filming love scenes. There are three in this picture that will make anyone fidget in their seat and their hair rise on end–an' that ain't all. It's a picture with a great kick, a great cast and great direction.... Miss Garbo, properly handled and given the right material, will be as great a money asset as Theda Bara was to Fox in years past. This girl has everything.
Picture Play:

However striking a picture “Flesh and the Devil” is, it will be thought unpleasant by many for much the same reasons that “Variety” proved distasteful, while remaining very nearly a great achievement. But those that like the new picture will rave over it, and this contingent will be in the majority. There is no similarity except that the story centers around a very naughty lady, scheming, unscrupulous, alluring. She is Greta Garbo who, you know full well, can be all that – and then some. She is magnificently effective as Felicitas, her best role so far. In her hands this unabashed siren becomes a genuine character study, replete with light and shade. The story is an adaptation of Hermann Sudermann's novel, “The Undying Past,” and Clarence Brown, the director, has retained the German locale in its entirety. In doing so, he has achieved a triumph for himself. The production is a marvel of technical accuracy and fine imagination. Leo, John Gilbert, and Ulrich, Lars Hanson, have been friends since childhood. They are united in a bond of blood-brotherhood – until Felicitas comes between them. Though married to the elderly Count von Rhaden, she lures Leo on until, on being discovered, he is forced to fight a duel with the Count, whom he kills. Banished from the country, he returns to find her married to Ulrich, but eager to ensnare Leo again. Despite his loyalty to his friend, she succeeds; and when the moment of discovery comes, she causes Ulrich to believe that Leo tempted her. Again there is a duel, this time between the former friends, and Felicitas, hastening across the ice to prevent it, is drowned. Nevertheless, neither is killed, because both are too overcome by memories of the past to fire, and there is an indication of happy ending in the willingness of Leo's boyhood sweetheart, Hertha, to forgive. John Gilbert as Leo will prove irresistible to his admirers as he was to Felicitas, but I hope they will not be blind to the fine performance of Lars Hanson in the secondary role of Ulrich. Finer, in my opinion, because less histrionic. Barbara Kent as Hertha holds the promise of a more notable career than any of the new crop of “Baby Stars,” among whom she is listed.



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(in Treatment)



Some American critics reported that many moviegoers were laughing at the wrong places. This kind of reaction was more typical of midwestern audiences. For this reason MGM  shot an alternate ending for the film. This ending suggests a relationship with Leo (J. Gilbert) and Hertha (B. Kent) for the final scene. Director Clarence Brown who didn't like the idea and went under protest.



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Based on the novel Es war (The Undying Past), by Hermann Sudermann.



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Available on DVD & VHS.



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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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