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(USA 1936)



Die Kameliendame (GERMANY)
Le roman de Marguerite Gautier (FRANCE)
Kameliadamen (SWEDEN)
Margherita Gauthier (ITALY)
A Dama das Camélia (BRAZIL)
Dama Kameliowa (POLAND)






Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
MGM Production: 938



Directed by George Cukor.
Produced by Irving Thalberg (uncredited).
Screenplay by Z. Akins, F. Marion and J. Hilton, from the play/novel La Dame aux Camellias by A. Dumas.
Photographed by William Daniels and Karl Freund.
Edited by Margaret Booth.
Associate Producer: David Lewis.
Unit Manager: Ulric Busch.
Musical score by Herbert Stothart.
Recording supervised by Douglas Shearer.
Art Direction by Cedric Gibbons.
Associates: Fredric Hope and Edwin B. Willis.
Gowns by Adrian.
Dances staged by Val Raset.



109 Minutes


Camille - GIF

Marguerite and Armand "kissing".



Greta Garbo, Robert Taylor, Lionel Barrymore, Elizabeth Allan, Jessie Ralph, Henry Daniell, Lenore Ulric, Laura Hope Crews, Rex O'Malley, Russell Hardie, E. E. Clive, Douglas Walton, Marion Ballou, Joan Brodel, June Wilkins, Fritz Leiber, Elsie Esmonds....



Marguerite Gautier aka Camille



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Marguerite Gautier, known as Camille (Greta Garbo) is a fancy Parisian courtesan. Whose current lover is Baron de Varville (Henry Daniell). Camille's nature is not vicious. She is kind to those who have befriended her. She even pays for the wedding of an old friend, Nichette (Elizabeth Allan). One day at the theatre, Camille meets young Armand Duval (Robert Taylor) and both fall deeply in love. Camille wishes to spend time in the country with Armand. But the Baron finds out that she is cheating on him. He slaps her, but gives her the money she asked for. In the country her happiness comes to an abrupt end. When Armand's father (Lionel Barrymore) comes to see her alone. He tells her that if Armand marries her, he will ruin his career and his whole life. To save Armand, Camille leaves him, telling him she prefers the rich men in Paris. Camille contracts tuberculosis. She is forced to sell all her possessions. Only her faithful maid, Nanine (Jessie Ralph), to look after her. Dying, she cannot forget Armand. When he learns of her condition, he comes to see her and promises to stay with her forever. Camille dies, but happy in knowing that Armand still loves her.



(in Treatment)



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Release date: December 12, 1936 (New York), January , 1936 (USA)
Premiere date: December 12, 1936 (Plaza Theatre in Palm Springs) 
Release Date in Germany: 05.11.1937 / 23.05.1952. – TV: 21.04.1969 / 16.10.1970 / 10.07.1971 (ZDF)



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Production Dates: October–November 1936
Production Location: USA



The Stills were made during the production by William Grimes . 168 Movie Stills were shot.
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  Camille was Garbo's twenty-fourth motion picture.

  It's Garbo's only film with Robert Taylor.

  It was Lionel Barrymore's fourth and final role in a Garbo film.

  Garbo was nominated for an Academy Award.

  Cukor originally wanted Basil Rathbone as Baron de Varville.

  Of all her films, this was Greta' s favorite.

  A colorized version was made in the late 1980s.

  One rumor is that Thalberg already wanted to make Camille with Greta, back in 1931.

  Before filming, Greta signed a contract for two more films at $250,000 each.

  Adolf Hitler's favorite Film. It is said that he saw Camille six times.

  Filmed in 75 days.

  Camille was re-released in USA 1954 and 1955 and made again around 500.000 Dollar.

  Milton Benjamin wrote a song in 1936 called "I'll Love Like Robert Taylor, Be My Greta Garbo".

  Originally, Garbo was going to do Maria Walewska before Camille.

  Garbo's salary was $250,000.

  She had the choice of A Woman of Spain or Camille, to turn into a movie.

  John Gilbert already suggested Mayer, to do a film version of  Camille with Greta in late 1928.

  Ann Harding was also scheduled to do a version of Camille in London.
     But MGM beat the british production company by preparing its own Camille with Greta.

  Garbo didn't talk much to Robert Taylor. She was polite but distant.
      She had to tell herself that he was the ideal young man.
      George Cukor said that she knew if they became friendly, she'd learn he was just another nice kid.

  Mayer wanted to hire Selznick to produce the picture.

  A  rumor was that At Louis B. Mayer's insistence,  Greta  reluctantly  agreed   to attend the  Hollywood  premiere of  Camille.  She wore pajamas
      under a fur coat. She waved to her fans, walked  through the front door, and out the back without bothering to watch the film.

  Years later,  Robert Taylor  recalled  that  he  was  scared  to  death at the thought of appearing with Garbo.  He said she was a fantastic human
      being and that she loved acting and the people she worked with.

  Garbo did win the New York Film Critics award for the best feminine performance of the year.

  George Cukor  said that he wouldn't have thought of doing Camille without  Garbo.  Cukor said that this ill-starred,  tainted creature  (Camille) is
      something that Garbo has in her face.

  Producer Thalberg died while producing this film.

  After the death of Thalberg, MGM spend 100.000 USA $ for re-takes.

  The production was put on hold after Thalberg died and Garbo attended Thalberg's funeral.

  For the re-takes, the famous Death scene was re-written (2 times) and re-shot (3 times).

  The original Thalberg produced version is unreleased.

  The song  Marguerite & the Baron  are playing on the piano is  "Aufforderung zum Tanz".  (Invitation to the dance),  Composed by Carl-Maria von
      Weber (1841).

  Thalberg offered Cukor the chance to turn the two classic novels into a movie for Garbo.  He offered him the novels:  Manon Lescaut  or  Lady of       the Camilles.

  Garbo attended the USA premiere of F. Ashton's  Royal Ballet  production of the  Camille s tory.  I t starred  Margot Fonteyn and  Rudolf Nureyev.
      Greta didn't like it – but she didn't like any ballet. "Those poor fellows,having to lift all those big girls. It's so silly." Greta said.



The character of Marguerite Gautier is based on Marie Duplessis (1824-1847). She was a French courtesan and mistress to a number of prominent and wealthy men. She is the basis of , the main character of La Dame aux Camélias by Alexandre Dumas the younger, one of Duplessis' lovers. Much of what is known about her has been mixed with the literary character and contemporary legends.



(in Treatment)


Filming Ended

After filming ended, Camille had been assigned to producer Bernard Hyman who just had huge success with the Clark Gable picture, San Francisco.  For strange reasons, Hyman let Salka Viertel re-write some parts and arranged a round of retakes. Hyman was a friend of Thalberg and it is said that he wanted to “help” the film and not to “hurt” it but they wanted to improve something that needed no improvement. The famous deathscene we see is not the orginal version from the first version of the film. In the original version Garbo died on the bed, had more text to say and folded her hands before she died. This original death scene is lost. Cukor thought that it didn't really feel very natural talking that much when you've just about given up the ghost, so Garbo's last scene was re-written and re-shot three times. In the first and second alternate ending, Garbo was on the deathbed with less words to say but they still weren´t satisfied. They thought it seemed unreal for a dying woman to talk so much. In the third alternate ending, Garbo had to be even quieter and just slowly slipped away in Robert Taylor's arms. After dying three times, Garbo suddenly became hysterical with laughter. Salka Viertel later took credit for the best version of the last scene. She later said that Garbo was so inadequate in the death scene that she had to give all the lines to Robert Taylor. Garbo only had to say Yes and No. Garbo later said that if you're going to die on the screen, you've got to be strong and in good health. Many years later she admitted to a friend that she had watched the rushes of her best version of the deathscene and could not believe what she saw. Greta was baffled by what she'd done and by the peak she'd reached. She couldn't explain it. After spending 100.000 USA $ for re-takes, the new material was edited into the Film and was previewed in Santa Barbara.Garbo´s most famous film was poorly received. Garbo was there, and the audience applauded when the Baron slapped her! They hated her. Garbo shuddered and was gone when the preview ended.



Colorization is a computerized process that adds color to a black & white movie or TV program.  Camille and even Ninotchka   were also part of the film colorization during the mid - late 1980s. It was premiered on American TV in autumn 1990 and never aired again. Many Classics, like King Kong or Casablanca, were colorized by Time Warner Media Mogul Ted Turner. This was to allow black and white films to have new audiences of people who were not used to the format but the process drew considerable controversy. Garbo's colorized Camille was released on home video as a very limited release in 1990.



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Budget: 1.486.000 Dollar.
Gross: USA:1.154.000 Dollar; Non-USA: 1.688.000 Dollar; World: 2.842.000 Dollar.
Profit: 388.000 Dollar.
Gilbert's Salary:  $250,000



This is the first picture that showed Garbo in colour.It wasn't planned at all. During a photo session for Camille in 1936, photographer Clarence Sinclair Bull suggested a colour photo shot to Garbo. Making such a photo was hard work and Greta had to sit still for a couple of minutes but the result was a sensation. The world could finally see Garbo's pale blue eyes.

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Clarence Sinclair Bull made the portraits of Garbo for the film.The session was made in November 23, 1936. Bull made another special session with Garbo, likely in December 1936.
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Frank S. Nugent for New York Times:

Greta Garbo's performance is in the finest tradition: eloquent, tragic, yet restrained. She is as incomparable in the role as legend tells us that Bernhardt was. Through the perfect artistry of her portrayal, a hackneyed theme is made new again, poignantly sad, hauntingly lovely ... Miss Garbo has interpreted Marguerite Gautier with the subtlety that has earned her the title, “first lady of the screen.” Even as the impish demi-mondaine of the early sequences, she has managed to convey the impression of maturity, of a certain etherealism and spiritual integrity which raise her above her surroundings and mark her as one apart ... To appreciate her complete command of the role, one need only study her approach to the key scenes of the drama. Where the less sentient Camille bides her time until the moment comes for her to tear her passions and the scenery to tatters, Garbo waits and then understates. It is her dignity that gives strength to her scene with M. Duval when he asks her to give up his son. It is because her emotions do not slip their leash–when you feel that any second they might–that saves her parting scene with Armand from being a cliche renunciation. And, above all, it is her performance in the death scene–so simply, delicately and movingly played–which convinces me that Camille is Garbo's best performance.
Howard Barnes for New York Herald Tribune:

The incomparable Greta Garbo has returned to the screen in a breathtakingly beautiful and superbly modulated portrayal of Camille. As the tragic Dumas heroine, she floods a romantic museum piece with glamour and artistry, making it a haunting and moving photoplay by the sheer magic of her acting. It was not my good fortune to witness the great Eleanora Duse in the play, but I have seen many other illustrious actresses in French and English versions, and none have remotely matched Miss Garbo ... She dignifies this latest of many presentations of Camille with a magnificent and unforgettable performance. There has been no diminution of Miss Garbo's flaming genius during her recent absence from motion picture acting. Her command of the subtleties of an impersonation is even greater than it was in the past, and her voice has taken on a new range of inflection. The Marguerite she brings to the screen is not only the errant and self-sacrificial nymph conceived by the younger Dumas nearly a hundred years ago, but one of the timeless figures of all great art. With fine intelligence and unerring instinct she has made her characterization completely credible, while giving it an aching poignancy that, to me, is utterly irresistible. She achieves a consummate balance between the conflicting qualities that made up the eighteenth century demi-mondaine, and she plays the big flamboyant scenes of the piece with a versatile intensity that unshackles them from all their creaking artificiality and fills them with brooding emotional power and ineffable splendor ... It is likely that Miss Garbo still has her greatest role to play, but she has made the Lady of the Camelias, for this reviewer, hers for all time.



Camille – with Alla Nazimova (USA 1921)
Camille – with Greta Scacchi (UK/USA 1984)



Director Cukor and Garbo




While filming Marguerite's death scene, Taylor brought his phonograph to Garbo's dressing room. So that she could play Paul Robeson records to put her in the mood. “My mother had just died,” recalled Cukor, “and I had been there during her last conscious moments. I suppose I had a special awareness. I may have passed something on to Garbo without realizing it.” Garbo later praised Cukor's sensitivity. “Cukor gave me direction as to how to hold my hands,” said Garbo. “He had seen how, when his mother lay dying, she folded her hands and just fell asleep.”



On location in the Hollywood Hills, Greta surprised the crew by lunching with them and kept everyone laughing with stories about her adventures with the press in Europe. Riding back in the studio car, she inquired about a newly installed device that allowed for communication between the driver and passenger. After an assistant demonstrated its use, she picked up the microphone with a look of delight. “Hello, hello! This is Greta Garbo speaking. ... The first time Greta Garbo is on the air.”



While producing Camille, producer Irving Thalberg died. After filming was ended and post-production began, Mayer assigned Bernard Hyman. He was now the films new producer. Hyman arranged re-takes, cut some scenes or edit scenes from the original Thalberg produced film. It is not exactly known which scenes are cut. Two alternate endings for the death scene were written. Three alternate endings were filmed during the re-takes. The first had Garbo in bed (similar to the original Thalberg produced version). She had some more words to say before she died. I n the second she had less words to say before she died on the bed. In the final and third re-shot, Garbo lowly slipped away in Armand's arms. This is also the version which was used for the final version of the film. It is said that this new version was setting up the characters too well. Some  thought it was pure boredom and Camille would become an ordinary costume picture. Long, pointless scenes had taken the place of the precise, neatly interlocking ones of the first version. Motivations were changed too. Scenes showing the Armand's jealousy were cut. He was now the same old dreary Armand Duval from the novel. It is said that the preview of this “new” version was a disaster. But for unknown reasons this version was released.



Lady of the Camilles



The title "Camille" has to do with the first American actress named Matilda Heron who made an adaptation of the play La Dame aux Camélias (The Lady of the Camelia) after having seing it in Paris in 1855. She was impressed with the play and made an adaptation for the american stage called "Camille" or "The fate of a coquette". So the name "Camille" is an americanized nickname one should say of The Lady of the Camelias considered my many to be a mistake but it just stayed like that and everyone knows the play and subsequent films based on the play and novel by Alexandre Dumas Fils as "Camille". I have read somewhere that when the great french actress Sarah Bernhardt (famous for her portrayal of The Lady of the Camelias) made her famous tour in the US and was told that the play was called "Camille" she just roared with laughter. (thanks to Nakis)



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Garbo Loves Taylor in Camille!



Based on the novel La Dame aux Camellias (Lady of the Camilles/Camille/Die Kameliendame) by Alexandre Dumas fils.



Here is the George Cukor and Eddie Mannix Signed Camille Contract.
This agreement on MGM letterhead dated July 15, 1936, engages  Cukor's services as director.Signed on the last page by Cukor and infamous studio exec and "fixer" Eddie Mannix in green ink.



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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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