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Unrealized Projects 1930-1934



ROMANCE – GERMAN LANGUAGE VERSIONS (1930)

Director Jacques Feyder was signed to direct two Garbo pictures in German. The first one was Anna Christie and the second was Romance.

Arthur Loew, vice president of Loew's Inc., had recently announced that MGM was budgeting $2 million for foreign-language versions. Only the German version of Anna Christie materialized.

No other information is known.

SOURCE: GARBO book

 

ANNA CHRISTIE – SWEDISH LANGUAGE VERSION (1930)

A Swedish version was also planned, with script written by Sven H. Borg.

SOURCE: GARBO book

 

UTA VON NAUMBURG (early 1930s)

A rumor from a Swedish magazine was that someone planned a film on Uta's life with Garbo in the lead. No details are known.

SOURCE: Swedish magazine

 

LADY FROM THE SEA (early 1930s)

Garbo said that she begged Mayer to make a film version of the Ibsen play, but Mayer declined.

SOURCE: GARBO book

 

NORA / A DOLL’S HOUSE (early 1930s)

Garbo wanted Mayer to make a film version of Ibsen's famous play but Mayer declined.

SOURCE: GARBO book

 

STAGE PLAY BY PRINCE LENNART (early 1930s)

There was a rumor that Lennart Bernadotte, Count of Wisborg (formerly: Lennart, Prince of Sweden and Duke of Småland), wrote a script for Garbo.

It was for a stage play and he wrote it especially for Greta.

No details are known.

SOURCE: Swedish Gossip Magazine

 

DAS WEIB IST EIN NICHTS (early 1930s)

In the early 1930s, MGM tried to turn this scandalous German 1929 novel (English Translation: This Woman is a "Nothing") by Mela Hartwig into a Garbo feature film. No details are known.

SOURCE: GARBO book

 

TOSCA (1930)

Berthold Viertel (husband of Salka Viertel) wanted to produce a film version of the opera Tosca, without music and with Greta in the lead.

Viertel also considered Somerset Maughan to write the screenplay. Nothing came of it.

SOURCES: GARBO Book

 

RED DUST (1930)

This famous Jean Harlow/Clark Gable movie was first planned to be made in 1930 with Greta Garbo and Adolphe Menjou. Red Dust is based on a play by Wilson Collison.

SOURCE: GARBO book

 

SVEN GARBO – WHERE ROSES BLOOM (1930)

Greta's brother was cast in the first Swedish talking picture directed by S. Adolison. Paramount was going to produce this film in Paris.

SOURCE: magazine

 

SVEN GARBO – THE HOLE IN THE WALL (1930)

Greta's brother was cast in a swedish version of this film, produced by Cinestudio Contenial in Paris.

SOURCE: magazine

 

NBC RADIO APPEARANCE (1931)

On the evening of October 11, 1931, Greta Garbo was scheduled as a guest for The Three Bakers of Hollywood, sponsored by Standard Brands (promoting Fleischmann’s Yeast. This short-run program aired over NBC Blue on Sunday evening. Even the New York Times reported Garbo’s up-coming appearance.

Martin Grams checked everything from the Library of Congress, the surviving records of the J. Walter Thompson Agency which represented the sponsor, files at NBC, and the Billy Rose Theatre Collection in New York City, I have verified that Garbo canceled her appearance before the broadcast and Harriet Hilliard filled in as a guest.

SOURCE: Library of Congress

 

RED DUST (1931)

MGM wanted to re-team Garbo with Gilbert for the film. The film was planned to be shot right after Inspiration was finished.

SOURCE: GARBO book

 

GARBO ON NBC RADIO SHOW (USA 1931)

American newspaper and radio commentator Walter Winchell wanted Garbo to say “Hello!” to his listeners on his Christmas Eve NBC radio show.

But Garbo failed to respond.

SOURCE: Garbo book

 

THE YOUNG EAGLE (1931)

Mercedes De Acosta offered Garbo the idea to make a film version of the Edmund Rostand play – L'Aiglon, the nickname of Napoleon's son, Napoleon II of France. The name is French for "eaglet" (a young eagle) and the Edmond Rostand play is about Napoleon II's life. I think Mercedes also had her own play in the mid-1920s based on the novel but in her story, Napoleon’s son was in fact a daughter, dressed and raised as a boy.

A French film was made in 1931.

ALTERNATIVE TITLE: L'Aiglon, Napoléon II., Napoleon’s Son
SOURCE: GARBO book

 

DESPERATE (1931/32)

Mercedes de Acosta was eager to write a script for Greta. One day Thalberg gave his okay and some time later she gave him her finished script, titled Desperate.

The heroine is a confused soul named Erik Chandler. Her father (Sloane) is an American diplomat living in Paris; divorced from her mother (Erika), who was the daughter of the Norwegian ambassador to the Russian Imperial Court. As the story begins, Erik is going home to be with her mother on her eighteenth birthday. Her father delays her departure and her distraught mother, believing she has been deserted, jumps into the nearest fjord (hanging on just long enough to die in Erik's arms).

A vengeful Erik begins her reckless adult life. She is beautiful, polished, arrogant, wild and now irrevocably estranged from her father. When her companion, Toto, is killed in a club in Harlem, Erik disguises herself as a boy to avert a scandal and leaves town.

A scripted montage shows Erik transforming herself into a boy, and winds up in a swank gambling club in Mexico City, dressed in perfect evening clothes, her hair brushed straight back, her face a mask. She is a subject of interest among the feminine gamblers. Each woman feels there is some unfathomable mystery in this beautiful, pale, Shelley-like boy that no one can move to talk. Her eyes rarely leave the game, she has never been seen to smile and is indifferent to the others around him. Everyone wonders about him but her luck has changed.

“Once I was afraid to be alone with myself, now I no longer have that fear – and I am not lonely – ever”, Erik says.

She is last seen in Wyoming as a “pretty new cowboy” able to tame wild horses and men. An old lover reappears, and Erik wins a dramatic life-and-death struggle at the rodeo with the fiercest black stallion this side of the Mississippi. Irving Thalberg turned Desperate down. He thought it sounded too uncommercial and preferred to do Luigi Pirandello's play As You Desire Me with Garbo next.

SOURCE: Karen Swenson – A Life Apart

 

THE STORY OF GEORGE SAND (1931)

Mercedes suggested to Thalberg another film idea for Greta….The Story of George Sand, the nineteenth-century French novelist, a brilliant, provocative writer. Sand, in real life a member of the French aristocracy, would be remembered for her bohemian lifestyle, fondness for cigars and masculine attire. George Sand also had a series of scandalous affairs, most notably with poet Alfred de Musset and composer Frédéric Chopin.

ALTERNATIVE TITLE: George Sand
SOURCE: GARBO book

 

LADY OF THE CAMELIAS (1931)

In 1931, Thalberg asked Mercedes to work on an adaptation of Camille for Garbo. No more details are known. I wonder how her version of the famous Dumas novel would have turned out. Thalberg also asked Mercedes to work on the 1935 screenplay for Camille.

ALTERNATIVE TITLE: Camille
SOURCE: GARBO book

 

THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY (1931)

Talking about possible films, Greta told Mercedes about her interest in playing the title role in Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray… in which she would not “pass” as a man but really play a man. Mercedes responded: “You go and tell Irving that idea and have him throw you out the window – not me!”.

I'm not sure if Greta wanted Mercedes to write the script.

SOURCE :GARBO book

 

GERMAN DUB FOR SUSAN LENOX (1931)

For years some German fans circulated a rumor that MGM wanted Garbo to synchronize the film for the German market. No details are known.

SOURCE: unknown

 

GERMAN DUB FOR MATA HARI (1931)

German fans also repeated a rumor that MGM wanted Garbo to synchronize this film for the German market. No details are known.

SOURCE: unknown

 

RED DUST (1932)

In late 1931 this project was again offered to Garbo, now to star with Clark Gable. The film was planned after Mata Hari but some sources also write it was planned after Susan Lenox. MGM really wanted to pair Gable and Garbo again but the script underwent drastic re-writes and after Garbo declined, the role was re-cast with Jean Harlow.

SOURCE: GARBO book

 

THREE WEEKS (1932)

A project considered for Garbo after As You Desire Me was based on a novel by Elinor Glyn (1864 – 1943).  Glyn was a British novelist and scriptwriter who pioneered mass-market women's erotic fiction. She was the celebrated author of early 20th century bestsellers such as It, Three Weeks, Beyond the Rocks, and other novels which were considered quite racy, as tame as they might seem now.

A silent film was made of Three Weeks in 1924 starring Aileen Pringle and Conrad Nagel. Why Garbo never made the film is unknown.

The plot: The Queen of Sardalia is in a bad marriage with the brutal King Constantine II. She decides to get away and goes on vacation to Switzerland. Here, she meets Paul Verdayne and they have an affair for three weeks.

SOURCE: GARBO book

 

THE PAINTED VEIL (1932)

Another project considered for Garbo after As You Desire Me. Garbo made the film in 1934.

SOURCE: GARBO book

 

THAIS (1932)

A project considered for Garbo after As You Desire Me

Thaïs was a famous Greek hetaera (courtesan) who lived during the time of Alexander the Great and accompanied him on his campaigns. Thaïs first came to the attention of history when, in 330 BC, Alexander the Great burned down the palace of Persepolis after a drinking party. Thaïs was present and gave a speech which convinced Alexander to destroy the palace. Why Garbo never made the film is unknown.

SOURCE: GARBO book

 

CONGAI (1932)

Another project considered for Garbo after As You Desire Me, based on a mid-1920s stage play. Garbo would have played Thi-Linh. Why she never made the film is unknown.

SOURCE: GARBO book

 

SUN OF ST. MORITZ (1932)

Based on Paul Oskar Höcker's Die Sonne von St. Moritz.  Garbo would have played Gertie Selle, the wife of a seriously ill older man. Tending to the husband's needs, Dr. Robert Frank falls in love with Gertie. When the wife administers a fatal overdose of medicine to her husband, Dr. Frank – correctly suspecting that she has committed murder – elects not to report the particulars of the death. This turns out to be a big mistake later on, when Gertie attempts to blackmail the doctor. The crisis seems to end with the death of one of the principals, but in fact it's only the beginning.

Why she never made the film is unknown.

SOURCE: GARBO book

 

GERMAN DUB FOR GRAND HOTEL (1932)

For years some German fans said that MGM wanted Garbo to synchronize the film for the German market. No details are known.

SOURCE: unknown

 

GARBO AND BEATON PHOTO SESSION (1930-1932)

During a trip to Los Angeles in 1930, celebrity photographer Cecil Beaton had spent a considerable amount of time pursuing Garbo for a possible Vogue sitting; but the Metro publicity department offered him Joan Crawford or Norma Shearer instead. By 1932, studios sought Beaton out to arrange special photo sessions with their top stars, but still no Garbo.

SOURCE: GARBO book

 

THE LIFE OF JEANNE D'ARC (1932)

Mercedes also hoped to do Jeanne D'Arc with Greta for MGM. It was her dream project and de Acosta told Thalberg: “I believe that Greta was worth much more than all the glamour and sex films she had been forced to play in. I had always wanted to see her play a peasant role in which she could brush her hair straight back off her face and wear simple clothes ... Nature is Greta's element”.

She told the producer that Greta should be allowed to play roles with simplicity, purity and drama, and that the lives of several Catholic saints might suit her.

Mercedes delivered her notes on The Life of Jeanne D'Arc, including her analysis of other dramatic works, to the story department. “I personally do not like the Shaw play except for some passages, but think the preface tremendously interesting,” she wrote. Mercedes’ script was based on her own play – Jeanne de Arc. After hard work Thalberg informed Mercedes that Garbo didn't like the finished product and that they would not do the film.

Mercedes was unhappy and hurt most of all because Garbo didn't tell her personally, but it is said that it may have been Mayer’s influence. He hated the thought that Garbo wanted to do the film with no makeup and hair cut very short.

ALTERNATIVE TITLE: Jeanne de Arc
SOURCE: GARBO book

 

CATHERINE THE GREAT (1932)

This was also a story MGM considered for Garbo before they decided to do Queen Christina.

SOURCE: GARBO book

 

TERESA OF AVILA (1932)

Mercedes also approached Thalberg with other story ideas, including the stories of Francis of Assini and Teresa of Avila. It is unknown if she started writing a script.

ALTERNATIVE TITLE: St. Teresa
SOURCE: GARBO book

 

FRANCIS OF ASSISI (1932)

Mercedes approached Thalberg with other story ideas – Francis of Assisi and Teresa of Avila. It is unknown if Mercedes started writing a script on her own.

ALTERNATIVE TITLE: St Francis
SOURCE: GARBO book, News magazine

 

RED-HEADED WOMAN (1932)

This was Jean Harlow's first MGM film. Many don't know that project was first offered to Greta Garbo. After she declined they wanted Clara Bow and later offered it to Joan Crawford. The film was a huge success for Harlow.

SOURCE: Internet

 

DINNER AT EIGHT (1932)

MGM considered Greta for the role of Kitty. They wanted to do another “all star cast” like Grand Hotel. Garbo declined and the role went to Jean Harlow. George Cukor directed this film which premiered in 1933.

SOURCE: German Magazine 1938

 

TRAGÖDIE EINER LIEBE (TRAGEDY OF LOVE) (1932)

This is a very funny rumour out of a 1932 German magazine. They wrote that Garbo would star with Marlene Dietrich in a film based on the life of Siamese twins.

SOURCE: German Magazine

 

THE MATCH KING (1932)

The character of Marta Molnar is based on Garbo. For the film, Warner tried to loan out Garbo from MGM.  The movie was going to be filmed partly on Ivar Kreuger's estate near Stockhilm. Garbo was set to play a mysterious actress who figured in the life of the late international finacier Ivar Kreuger. Warren Williams got the male lead (Kreuger). Warner later announced that Carole Lombard was going to get the female role if Garbo declined.

SOURCE: magazine

 

THE TORRENT (1932)

In 1932 Garbo didn't re-new her contract with MGM and numerous articles claimed to know Garbo's next plans. One said that she was planning to remake her silent film The Torrent (USA 1926).

No more details are known.

SOURCE: GARBO book

 

THE TEMPTRESS (1932)

In 1932 Garbo didn't re-new her contract with MGM and numerous articles claimed to know Garbo's next plans. Another source said that she was planning to remake her silent film The Temptress (USA 1926).

No details are known.

SOURCE: GARBO book

 

SALOME (1932)

In 1932, there was a rumor that Garbo demanded $14,000 a week, to produce her own version of Salome.

No details are known.

SOURCE: GARBO book, magazine

 

TWO GARBO PRODUCTIONS (1932)

A 1932 magazine reported that Garbo wanted to produce two pictures on her own, one of them Salome, the other one is not known.

SOURCE: GARBO book, magazine

 

WARNER (1932)

In 1932 Garbo didn't renew her contract with MGM due to unresolved issues at the big film company. Numerous articles claimed to know Garbo's next plan. One rumor was that Garbo was going to sign a movie deal with Jack Warner's major movie company.

No details are known.

SOURCE: GARBO book

 

BLACK OXEN (1932)

Jacques Feyder, director of the German Anna Christie, considered this novel as a possible Garbo vehicle in 1932. This Gertrude Atherton best seller is about a fifty year old woman whose aging process is reversed by a mysterious ray aimed at her ovaries.

Another source wrote that Thalberg wanted to make this film with Garbo after As you desire me. Adela Rogers St. Johns was going to write the script based on the novel. It is said that Garbo declined because they wanted to start the production too hastily. The novel was again suggested for a possible Garbo vehicle in the early 40s.

SOURCE: GARBO book

 

THE SON-DAUGHTER (1932)

An MGM film starring Ramon Novarro. Rumor was that certain people at MGM thought about pairing Garbo with Ramon for this film which was based on a play.

SOURCE: Garbo book

 

MOVIE WITH VICTOR SEASTROM (1932)

While in Sweden a rumor appeared that Garbo would do a film with Seastrom in Sweden.

SOURCE: Garbo book

 

GRAND HOTEL – ON STAGE (1932)

While in Sweden a rumor appeared that Gösta Eckmann suggested that Garbo appear in a Swedish stage production of GRAND HOTEL at the Vasa Teatern in Stockholm.

SOURCE: Garbo book

 

DIE SAGA VON GÖSTA BERLING (1933)

Another rumour from a German gossip magazine. An unknown German film company wanted Garbo to do a remake of Gösta Berling Saga.

ALTERNATIVE TITLE: Gösta Berling Saga
SOURCE: German Magazine

 

SCHWEDISCHE NACHTIGALL (SWEDISH NIGHTINGALE) (1933)

Another rumour from a German gossip magazine. An unknown German film company wanted Garbo for a film of the life of Jenny Lind, the Swedish opera singer, known as The Swedish Nightingale.

SOURCE: German Magazine

 

THE GARDEN OF ALLAH (1933)

Selznick suggested Greta Garbo in the lead role of his planned remake of the 1927 silent film. John Gilbert was considered as her partner. The film was made in 1936 with Marlene Dietrich.

SOURCE: GARBO book

 

THE PARADINE CASE (1933)

MGM bought the film rights of this Robert Hichens novel for Garbo in the early 30s. This project would be suggested as a possible Garbo film several times.

SOURCE: GARBO book

 

THE WHITE SISTER (1933)

This romantic love story was also offered to Greta. It would have been another pairing of her and Clark Gable. After Garbo passed on the role in this MGM production, which was based on a successful play, Helen Hayes won the role.

SOURCE: GARBO book

 

THE SUN OF ST. MORITZ (1933)

This film was rumored to be in the pipeline after 'Queen Christina', as the second movie for Garbo's latest MGM contract.

SOURCE: magazine

 

JOAN OF ARC (1934)

The project was again considered for Garbo after Queen Christina was completed, but she did The Painted Veil instead.

SOURCE: GARBO book

 

INDO CHINA (1934)

The Hollywood Reporter wrote that MGM planned this movie with Constance Bennett and Clark Gable in the lead. Yet MGM was not sure of casting Bennett and offered the role to Garbo. Leon Gordon was going to write the screenplay. Some time later, Joan Crawford was in talks for the female lead while Arthur Richmond wrote the screenplay and Bernie Hyman produced.

SOURCE: Magazine

 

THE SUN OF ST. MORITZ (1934)

Garbo and Gilbert were supposed to star together in a film based on this novel by Paul Oskar Hoecker (German: Die Sonne von St. Moritz) first in 1926, again in 1932, and once again in 1934, after the completion of Queen Christina.

SOURCE: John Gilbert book

 

JEZEBEL (1934)

David O. Selznick had MGM readers report to him with story ideas for Garbo. An August 1934 memo from story editor Kate Corbaley suggested Jezebel. A film of this was made in 1938 starring Bette Davis.

SOURCE: GARBO book

 

MARY OF SCOTLAND (1934)

David O. Selznick had MGM readers report to him with story ideas for Garbo. An August 1934 memo from story editor Kate Corbaley suggested Mary Of Scotland. A film version was made in 1936 starring Katharine Hepburn.

ALTERNATIVE TITLE: Mary, Queen of Scots
SOURCE: GARBO book

 

HAMLET (1934)

David O. Selznick had MGM readers report to him with story ideas for Garbo. An August 1934 memo from story editor Kate Corbaley suggested Hamlet (Garbo as Ophelia and Leslie Howard as the Danish prince). But it’s said that Garbo would only be interested if she could play the title role.

SOURCE: GARBO book

 

THE PARADINE CASE (1934)

David O. Selznick had MGM readers report to him with story ideas for Garbo. An August 1934 memo from story editor Kate Corbaley suggested The Paradine Case.

SOURCE: GARBO book

 

GARDEN OF ALLAH (1934)

David O. Selznick had MGM readers report to him with story ideas for Garbo. An August 1934 memo from story editor Kate Corbaley suggested Garden of Allah.

SOURCE: GARBO book

 

CAMILLE (1934)

David O. Selznick had MGM readers report to him with story ideas for Garbo. An August 1934 memo from story editor Kate Corbaley suggested Camille.

SOURCE: GARBO book

 

SISTER CARRIE (1934)

David O. Selznick had MGM readers report to him with story ideas for Garbo. An August 1934 memo from story editor Kate Corbaley suggested Sister Carrie.

SOURCE: GARBO book

 

A MIDSUMMERS NIGHT'S DREAM (1934)

In 1934, the great Theatre director Max Reinhardt went to America. His first desired project for Hollywood and MGM, was a film version of the famous Shakespeare play. He had a vision that Garbo should play Titania.
Max Reinhardt's dream cast:

Garbo (Titania)
Charlie Chaplin (Bottom)
Clark Gable (Demetrius)
Gary Cooper (Lysander)
John Barrymore (Oberon)
W C. Fields (Thisbe)
Wallace Beery (Lion)
Walter Huston (Theseus)
Joan Crawford (Hermia)
Myrna Loy (Helena)
Fred Astaire (Puck)

Nothing came of it and the film was made with Warners instead of MGM cast, with Anita Louise instead of Garbo as Titania. Reinhardt never gave up. But he could never get the cooperation of Garbo, in particular, or Los Angeles, in general: despite its steadily increasing population and fabulous pool of artists, theater simply never took root there.

SOURCE: Barry Paris – Garbo

 

NAPOLEON (mid 1930s)

Chaplin had toyed with many ideas for films since he began making movies, and during the 1930s planned many projects but none got very far.

One that didn't come to frution, though some meetings were held, was a Napoleon story with Chaplin as Bonaparte, Garbo in the female lead and Jean Renoir directing.

Nothing turned out.

SOURCE: David Shipmen – The Great movie stars

 

SALKA VALKA (mid 1930s)

Icelandic Nobel laureate Halldór Laxness particularly liked Garbo and wanted her to play Salka Valka

Salka Valka was Laxness's breakthrough novel and reflected the Socialistic views of his novels in the 1930s and 1940s. The story depicted a young woman, Salka, and a small fishing community. Evil enters into the town in the form of merchants and fishing entrepreneurs and is pitted against labor movement. The book gained a huge success in England and the The Evening Standard wrote that Greta Garbo would be the perfect Salka in its film adaptation.

MGM showed interest in one of his "magnificent" scripts (Sakja Valka) that "will conquer the world" – about a silent, erotic, pipe-smoking, whip-wielding woman who becomes a ship's captain, whom he imagined being played by Garbo. When the studio wanted to move the setting from Iceland to Kentucky, he threw in the towel. "Here it is not possible to do anything with genius. What they ask for is idiocy."

SOURCE: GARBO book
 

BLACK STEMMED CHERRIES (mid 1930s)

MGM bought this story as a starring production for Garbo. Later on Dolores Del Rio was signed by MGM with Richard Bolesavsky to direct, the film titled 'Rhapsody'.

SOURCE: Magazine

 

TRISTAN AND ISEULT (mid 1930s)

Swedish magazines wrote that Garbo would star in a film version of this Medieval legend. No details are known.

The legend of Tristan and Iseult is a famous romance of the adulterous love between the Cornish knight Tristan (Tristram) and the Irish princess Iseult (Isolde, Yseult, etc.), the narrative predates and most likely influenced the Arthurian romance of Lancelot and Guinevere, and has had a substantial impact on Western art and literature since it first appeared in the 12th century.

SOURCE: Magazine

 
 
  
1925-1929          Unrealized Projects          1935-1939
  

 

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