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(USA 1930)



Ana Christie (SPAIN)






Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
MGM Production: 456



Directed by Clarence Brown.
Produced by Irving Thalberg (uncredited).
Adaptation by Frances Marion, from the play by Eugene O'Neill.
Photographed by William Daniels.
Edited by Hugh Wynn.
Recording supervised by Douglas Shearer.
Art Direction by Cedric Gibbons.
Gowns by Adrian.



89 minutes



Greta Garbo, Charles Bickford, George F. Marion, Marie Dressler, James T. Mack, Lee Phelps ...



Anna Christie aka Anna Christopherson



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Anna Christie (Greta Garbo) had been left by her sailor father on a farm owned by relatives. She fled from the cruel family and went on her own, eventually becoming a prostitute. Disgusted with her life and broke, she comes to her father, Chris (George F. Marion). She goes to live on his fishing barge. She meets Marthy (Marie Dressler), an old waterfront woman, who was her father's mistress. One day, during a storm, they save a seaman named Matt Burke (Charles Bickford) from drowning. Anna and Matt fall in love. However, Anna's anger at her father for neglecting her for so many years. It causes her to blurt out her past to her father and Matt. Matt, in disgust, walks out. Unable to stop loving Anna and knowing that he also had made mistakes. Matt returns. He asks Anna to marry him and she accepts.



Anna Christie: "Gif me a visky, ginger ale on the side, and don' be stingy, baby."



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Release date: February 21, 1930
Premiere date: January 22, 1930 (Criterion Theatre in Los Angeles)



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Production Dates: October–November 1929
Production Location: Hollywood/Los Angeles/USA



The Stills were made during the production by Milton Brown. 150 Movie Stills were shot.
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  Anna Christie was Garbo's fourteenth film and her first with sound.

  It was her only picture with the other three principal cast members.

  John Gilbert was considered to play the male lead.

  Filmed in 30 days.

 "Gif me a visky, ginger ale on the side, and don' be stingy, baby.", became part of Hollywood legend.

  In the early 1920s, Greta saw Swedish actress Tora Teje on stage in O'Neill's Anna Christie.

  One day, the Maharajah of Kapurthala visited the set of.
      He was the last visitor to MGM with whom Garbo would stand for a photograph.
     After this film, she no longer posed for publicity photos or poster art.

  Garbo reshot her first scene in this picture. She was not happy with her costume or performance.

  Anna Christie had won a Pulitzer Prize for Eugene O'Neill in 1922.

  The play was already turned into a silent movie in 1923 with Blanche Sweet in the lead.

  Garbo felt that the play characterized Swedish-Americans as stupid and vulgar.

  For her debut performance at the New Yorker Actors studio in 1955, superstar Marilyn Monroe had chosen a
      scene from Anna Christie. Marilyn was a big Garbo fan.

  In its first week at the Capitol Theatre, Anna Christie broke the house record.
      It earned $109,286. In its second week, it earned $92,100; in its third, $76,727.

  Garbo's entrance was shot in the morning. The soundtrack was ready by kunchtime and was played back over
      the studio loudspeakers.  Everyone held their breath.  When Garbo's lovely, limpid voice came on air, everyone
      nurst into applause. Garbo was definitely in the 'talkies'. Garbo later said:  "I was so nervous the night before. I
      couldn't sleep"



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Garbo's first "Talkie"

In late August 1929, Garbo finished The Kiss and prepared for Anna Christie, her first talking picture. Garbo already made her sound-tests after she came back from her first Sweden trip in late 1928. She wasn't scared about the recording of her voice and talk the lines before the microphone. Many foreign stars left Hollywood because of their heavy accent. Greta didn't know what would happen to her and it seemed that she didn't care anyway. No the world was waiting for her first “talkie”. MGM stars, Crawford, Gilbert and Novarro would soon have their talking-feature premieres.
Joan Of Arc
Anna Christie  was not the first choice for Garbo's sound debut. Thalberg and Garbo wanted to do a Joan Of Arc film. The producer suggested to remake the film La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc (France 1927), into a sound film. He also considered Shaw's play Saint Joan. But nothing turned out. Than they had chosen the, Pulitzer Prize winning, stage play Anna Christie by Eugene O'Neill. Read more about it  HERE.
Eugene O'Neill's Anna Christie
Anna Christie was one of the most difficult roles in contemporary theatre. The part is almost a monologue, a test for an actress experienced in speech. It was a brave move for Garbo and even for MGM. The role of a prostitute was hard to market and to reach a big audience. Its more of an adult story, had a rough language might offend some moviegoers the local censor boards. So Thalberg had an idea to make it more acceptable, even for a family audience. In the original screenplay, Anna Christie's dialogue was more of a thick Swedish accent. Greta didn't want that people think she would talk like that in real life.
Garbo's Voice
Her English was very good by now and so she did her dialogue the way she wanted it. Greta even refused a voice coach. On September 28, John Gilbert has his dedut in talking pictures. At the opening of film His Glorious Night, the audience started laughing out loud. His first lines of dialogue made his new film, look and sound like a parody. It was awful. Many bad reports from the movie theatre owners did not blame the script or the direction. They all blamed Gilbert's voice. Unfortunately, his voice wasn't bad , it was just too high pitched. Gilbert was deeply hurted. Garbo wasn't encouraged by the news of Gilbert's debut and still refused a voice coach.
Her co-star and director
Garbo wanted Clarence Brown as director of Anna Christie. She had heard of a Broadway actor named Charles Bickford who might be play the sailor Matt Burke. Greta had a say in casting and wanted Bickford. Thalberg and Mayer have their okay. On October 8, 1929, rehearsals started. Greta hated to rehearse. She would have preferred to stay away until everyone else had rehearsed. Then she would come in and do the scene.
Filming Started
On October 14, filming started and three days later Garbo had her first day before the microphone. She was in good shape and also a bit scared. When she herd her recorded voice for the first time, she laughed: “My God! Is that my voice? Does that sound like me? honestly?” Garbo was pleased with herself and the scene. But she still was unhappy with both her appearance and Brown's interpretation of the Swedish-American character. Some days later she had a discussion with Brown about it. What followed was that, all her scene from the first week of shooting was re-shot. The production went on very good and without any problems and finished on November 1929.
The "Garbo Talks!" Campaign
Now MGM started thinking about a campaign for the film. After some time someone suggestedt the idea, of only two words: GARBO TALKS. Thalberg loved it. A preview of the film was held in San Bernardino. Greta did not attend. The movie goers expected to see Garbo's The Kiss and came the opening titles of Anna Christie. The film started and Garbo did not appear on the screen until 15 minutes into the film. When she appeared in the saloon, the entire audience held its breath. Garbo succeeded, the audience applauded loudly. Mayer and Thalberg knew, that this is a winner. Thalberg said that the film does not need any retakes or cuts. This was highly unusual.

Anna Christie premieredat the Fox Criterion Theatre in Los Angeles on January 22, 1930. The critics loved it.Garbo saw Anna Christie the next day. She was pleased with her part but still was unhappy about how the film showed Swedes. “Garbo Talks” was a box-office hit. It was the highest-grossing film in America of 1930 and it made more than $1 million.



Budget: 376.000 Dollar.
Gross: USA: 1.013.000 Dollar.
Non-USA: (including the German language Version) 486.000 Dollar.
World: 1.499.000 Dollar.
Profit: 576.000 Dollar.
Garbo's Salary: (in Treatment)



Clarence Sinclair Bull made the portraits for the film.
More  HERE!



Richard Watts, Jr. for New York Herald Tribune:

Her voice is revealed as a deep, husky, throaty contralto that possesses every bit of that fabulous poetic glamour that has made this distant Swedish lady the outstanding actress of the motion picture world.
Norbert Lusk for Picture Play:

The voice that shook the world! It's Greta Garbo's, of course, and for the life of me I can't decide whether it's baritone or bass. She makes it heard for the first time on the screen in Anna Christie, and there isn't another like it. Disturbing, incongruous, its individuality is so pronounced that it would belong to no one less strongly individual than Garbo herself. Yet it doesn't wholly belong to her, but seems a trick of the microphone in exaggerating what in real life probably is merely a low-keyed voice, slightly husky.... In choosing Anna Christie for her audible debut, the Swedish star attempts one of the most difficult roles in the contemporary theater. The part is almost a monologue, a test for an actress experienced in speech, a brave feat for one who is not. And Garbo makes a magnificent effort, a gallant fight against great odds. She emerges not quite victorious, but crowned with laurels, nevertheless, for her courage. For she can do no wrong.

Mordaunt Hall for New York Times:

The tall Swedish actress's portrayal of the title role of Anna Christie is one that is very true to life. Miss Garbo, being of the same nationality as Anna, gives an enlightening conception of the character. Whether she is dealing with straight English or the vernacular, she compels attention by her deep-toned enunciation and the facility with which she handles Anna's slang.... One soon becomes accustomed to Miss Garbo's surprisingly low intonations. She is a real Anna, who at once enlists sympathy for her hard life. The words and expressions of this girl make one think of her in character, and cause one almost to forget that she is Miss Garbo, the Iris March of the pictorial version of The Green Hat, which was known on the screen as A Woman of Affairs; the unfortunate woman of The Kiss; the Felicitas of Flesh and the Devil, and a number of other impersonations. Here she is a Swedish girl to whom life has been anything but kind and who for that reason at the age of thirty is bitterly cynical.... All this is splendidly acted by Miss Garbo who proves here that she can handle a forceful role with little or no relief in its dull atmosphere just as well as she can play the part of the fashionably dressed, romantic wife of a moneyed lawyer.



Anna Christie – with Blanche Sweet (USA 1923)
Anna Christie – with Sean Connery, TV Film (UK 1957)

Blanche Sweet



Garbo Talks!



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Before filming started on Anna Christie , Garbo's co-star Charles Bickford saw her slip out one day. He followed her secretly than Greta  broke into a run and he gave chase. Finally he was catching up with her at her dressing room.

CB: “I'm sorry for chasing you like that.”
GG: “My mistake. I thought you were a rabbit.” Garbo laughed at this.
CB: “What were you doing on my set, Miss Garbo?”
GG: “I wanted to see you act.”
CB: “That's very flattering. Did you like what you saw?”
GG: “Very much.”
CB: “Thank you. Why did you run away?”
GG: “I was embarrassed to have you see me there.”

The ice was broken, and the two became acquainted.



After Garbo returned from Sweden in early 1929, MGM arranged her first professional Sound-Tests. Greta made her sound-tests in three languages and had choosen:

  Faust by Goethe – Marguerite “Monologue” in german.
  Peer Gynt by Ibsen – Solviegs “Song“ in swedish.
  Hamlet by Shakespeare – Ophelia's “Prayer “ in english.



The first scene of Greta's entrance was re-shot one week after it was done.  Greta didn't like interpretation of the Swedish-American character. She was wearing a different kind of costume in the new shot. The footage of the first shot was deleted.



Based on the play  Anna Christie, by Eugene O'Neill.



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Available on DVD & VHS.


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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