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Unrealized Projects 1945-1949

SARAH (1945)

In a russian magazine I read that producer Jack Warner wanted Garbo for a film bio-pic about the famous french stage actress Sarah Bernhardt.

Sarah Bernhardt

SOURCES: Russian magazine


DUSE (1945)

In November of 1945, George Cukor wrote W.S. Maugham on Greta's behalf: “Your friend, Miss Garbo, has a notion. In my opinion a pretty good one – and it all depends on you! She thinks an extraordinary picture could be made about Duse.” 

Eleonora Duse (1858– 1924), was an Italian actress, often known simply as Duse.

Eleonora Duse

Though Cukor pointed out the pitfalls involved in dealing with such a high-falutin' legend, he agreed that it could be dramatic to see a romantic and noble creaturedone in by an ego-maniac like D'Annunzio.

Greta wanted to meet Maugham when she returned to New York. Actually, according to Greta's friend Einar Nerman, Salvador Dali brought up the idea, about an Eleonora Duse film, at one of George Schlee's parties.



TOSCA (1945)

Garbo was having a drink with George Cukor and photographer George Hoyningen-Huene.

“How would you like to make a film of Tosca? Not as an opera, of course, but just the story?” asked Hoyningen-Huene.

 “I don't want to kill,” Garbo said quickly.

ALTERNATIVE TITLES: La Tosca, The Story of Tosca



A Garbo book mentioned that in 1945 MGM proposed a remake of Garbo's 1926 hit.

Garbo didn't like the idea. She was said to be more interested in playing Anna Lucasta.

DVD cover of Garbo's orginal 1926 version




Based on Philip Yordan play. The plot is that a  prostitute is thrown out of her house by her alcoholic father, and her scheming brother-in-law tries to devise a plan to marry her off and make some money in the process.

Garbo had tried without success to buy the film rights.

Film poster of the 1949 released version

The film about a tragic prostitute was made in 1949 by Irving Rapper. It starred Paulette Goddard.




Based on the Luigi Pirandello play. The film was made in 1945 by William Dieterle with Merle Oberon.

Merle Oberon

The plot is: At a convention, medical researcher Michel Touzac goes with colleagues to see stage caricaturist Targel, whose assistant Florence recognizes him...and attempts suicide. Saved by Touzac's new technique, Florence is revealed in a flashback as Michel's abandoned wife Karin, whom their daughter Susette thinks is dead.




In an Orson Welles book i read that Garbo's friend Salka Viertel asked Welles ( in the mid 1940s)  if he would like to play charlatan Cagliostro opposite Garbo.

Count Alessandro di Cagliostro (1743 – 1795) was the alias for the occultist Giuseppe Balsamo, a Sicilian traveller. The history of Cagliostro is shrouded in rumour, propaganda and mysticism.

He was  arrested because of his possible participation in the Affair of the Diamond Necklace which involved Marie Antoinette. He wed the beautiful Lorenza Feliciani, a young woman of extraordinary beauty and grace and, like Balsamo, boundless ambition.


Garbo and Welles in a film? What was it going to be be?

Was Garbo planning to make a film about Queen Marie Antoinette or a film drama about the famous Affair of the Diamond Necklace where she would have played Jeanne St. Remy de Valois or mabye a film about the life about Cagliostro and Garbo wanted to play Lorenza Feliciani?

Sadly, we could not find more details. But it is written that years later, Welles regreted that the plan never materialised.

Welles made a film about Cagliostro years later

In 1949, Welles starred in a similar film - Black Magic. This is a film film adaptation of Alexandre Dumas, père's novel. It was directed by the Russian-born Gregory Ratoff and stars  Welles in the lead role as  Balsamo (aka 18th century hypnotist, magician and scam artist Count Cagliostro) and Nancy Guild as Lorenza/ Marie Antoinette in a double role.

VHS cover

SOURCE: The cinema of Orson Welles


GUSTAV ADOLPH II (mid 1940s)

A film about the life of the Swedish King and father of Queen Christina Of Sweden. This was a Swedish production and Garbo was offered to re-prise her role as Queen Christina (?). Gustav II Adolf (1594 – 1632), was King of Sweden from 1611 until his death in battle.

Image:Gustav II of Sweden.jpg
Gustav Adolf II

SOURCES: Swedish magazine



The  fictitious book The Greta Garbo Murder Case wrote that Mayer suggested Greta to star in a version of The Brothers Karamazov as Grushenka.

This is fiction but  MGM really suggested a film version of this Russian classic in the mid 40s starring Katharine Hepburn and Robert Taylor. It was never made.

A movie version, based on the novel, was made in 1958.

SOURCE: The Greta Garbo Murder Case



The  fictitious book The Greta Garbo Murder Case wrote that Mayer suggested Greta  in a female version of The Brothers Karamazov novel.

John Wayne was suggested could play the “Grushenka” part.

This is fictitious and made up by a writer but I still wanted to mention it cos its so funny.

SOURCE: The Greta Garbo Murder Case



Garbo again showed interrest in making a film about Saint Francis. Nothing turned out.

DVD cover

A St. Francis film, directed by Roberto Rossellini, was made in 1950. The English title was The Flowers of St. Francis.

ALTERNATIVE TITLES: St Francis, Saint Francis



Garbo's Swedish friend Alf Sjöberg from Stockholm , once recalled telling Greta about a book by Hjalmar Bergman, Chefen fru Ingeborg (Sweden 1924), in the car on the way back from Mimi Pollak's house.

He wanted to turn this book into a film with Greta. The English title of this novel is The Head of the Firm (USA 1936). The plot is about a middle-aged woman's passion for a younger man.

The orginal novel

“I always dreamt that she would come home and that together we would make the greatest love story in the Swedish language,” Alf Sjöberg said. “A ‘Phèdre' tragedy. ... I could see a new road open up for her.”

Their car stopped in front of her hotel on Djurgården and both passengers sat quietly in the back for several minutes.

“Greta was sitting in her corner, her face even more beautiful than in her youth. But she did not say anything, she just looked across the water ...”

Alf Sjöberg

Finally, she told Sjöberg to send her the book and she would read it on the boat home. “And then she was gone.” Sjöberg stayed in the car and watched her walk away.

Though his pitch had been persuasive, he knew Garbo would never do the film.

“Times change, and no one knew that as well as she. Behind that inscrutable face is a consciousness that knows exactly when the time has come.”

Alf Sjöberg also tried to get Garbo for his Fröken Julie filmproject.




Director Michael Powell had initially thought of trying to lure Garbo out of retirement.

He wanted her to play the part of troubled Sister Superior, in charge of a group of nuns who try to establish a community from a dilapidated palace in a remote part of the high Himalayas (created entirely at Pinewood studios in England).

Garbo declined and the part went to Deborah Kerr.

Kerr in the 1947 released film.

Black Narcissus was a hit in the US as well as the UK, and Kerr won the New York Film Critics' Award as Actress of the Year.

DVD cover

Black Narcissus (1947) is a film by the British director-writer team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, based on the novel by Rumer Godden. It is a psychological drama about the emotional tensions within a convent of nuns in an isolated Himalayan valley.

SOURCES: Internet



This novel was considered for a Film with Garbo several times. Master director Alfred Hitchcock was among the many who tried to lure Garbo out of retirement.

She was to star as the beautiful, treacherous, unfaithful Mrs. Paradine along with Lawrence Olivier (he and Garbo were (Hitchchock's orginal choices) in the Anthony Keane role.

Garbo turned down the role of Mrs. Paradine at the same time she turned down the Norwegian mother role in I remember Mama.   She is reported to have said, " No murderesses, no mamas."

Producer David O. Selznick one day noted, she “has always had an aversion to the story.”

Alida Valli got the part after Garbo and Ingrid Bergman declined.

Alida Valli and Gregory Peck in the 1947 released film

Hitchcock about Garbo and the film

In 1974, Hitchcock talked about the film and Garbo again. This is an expert from the Interview done by John Springer for Andy Warhol's Interview magazine, published September 1974:

JS: Didn't you almost use Garbo in The Paradine Case?

AW: Well, we wanted to, but when Garbo read the book by Robert Hichens (?), she read the discription of the principal character, and it was described as a woman who was a barber's assistant in Stockholm! Who eventually turned out to be a murderess!! She said: "I wouldn't play that part".

It was her. He'd based it on her! Because when Selznick proposed to have her in, Gregory Peck was going to be the lead, and at that time the publicity used to be GARBO SPEAKS and when they had Ninotchka they had GARBO LAUGHS and she hadn't made a film for years.

So I said to Selznick, "I've got an idea for a slogan for this picture. Why don't we say: GARBO'S BACK.....and Gregory's scratching it"

AW: That's great press conference yesterday abortion

DVD Cover

The Paradine Case was a 1947 courtroom drama film, directed by Alfred Hitchcock and produced by David O. Selznick. The screenplay was by David O. Selznick and Ben Hecht adapted by Alma Reville and James Bridie from the novel by Robert S. Hichens.




George Cukor and RKO try to interest Garbo in playing this story of a stout-hearted Norwegian mother.

Garbo turned down the role of the Norwegian matriarch at the same time she turned down Alfred Hitchcock's The Paradine Case.

She is reported to have said, "No murderesses, no mamas." Marlene Dietrich also wanted to play the role.

The role went to Irene Dunne.

DVD cover

I Remember Mama is a 1944 John Van Druten play, based on the memoir Mama's Bank Account by Kathryn Forbes. The plot focuses on a loving family of Norwegian immigrants living in San Francisco in the 1910s. The 1948 RKO film version was adapted by DeWitt Bodeen and directed by George Stevens.




After the war, English producer Gabriel Pascal offered Garbo again the chance to play Shaw's Saint Joan. This was going to be filmed in Europe and Wolfgang Reinhardt was going to direct the film.

Gabriel Pascal

But Pascal failed to raise necessary finance after his last major production of Cesar and Cleopatra, starring Vivien Leigh, didn't make any impression at the box office.

Otto Preminger made the film in 1957 starring Jean Seberg and Richard Widmark.




Arch of Triumph is a 1948 US war romance film made by Enterprise Productions and distributed by United Artists. The film was directed by Lewis Milestone and adapted from the 1945 Erich Maria Remarque novel Arch of Triumph. The film stars Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer and Charles Laughton with Louis Calhern.

Garbo was producer David Lewis first choice and offered her the film in 1947 but she declined.

Film poster




MGM wanted to produce this film, based on a John Gunther script ,about a beautiful lady spy and foreign correspondent set in World War II.

Garbo described the script as a mixture of Mata Hari and Joan Of Arc but she declined but said that it would be ideal for Greer Garson.




Based on a novel by Gertrude Atherton about a middle-aged woman who miraculously becomes young again after glandular therapy.

After the war, Mayer hired a number of people to look for Garbo properties.

Adela Rogers St. John was one of them. She alone wrote more than four hundred memos (!!!!) to Mayer with ideas for Garbo films, usually running to ten or twelve pages.

Adela Rogers St. John

Mayer sent those he liked to Garbo, then checked with her.

On only one of the four hundred did she nibble.The property was Black Oxen.

When Garbo expressed interest, Adela developed the idea to about two hundred pages. Garbo still liked it. She went so far as to tell Mayer she would make some tests for the picture. She never did, and Adela feels that she never intended to.




Vincente Minelli made a MGM film about Emma Bovary in 1949 starring Jennifer Jones.

Another choice for the part was Lana Turner but I found out that he already planned the film in 1946 and that he wanted Greer Garson or Garbo for the part.

Nothing turned out and the Film was made 3 years later. It starred Jennifer Jones and was released in 1949.

Jennifer Jones starred in the 1949 released film.

Madame Bovary is a 1949 film adaptation of the classic novel by Gustave Flaubert. It stars Jennifer Jones, James Mason and Gladys Cooper. It was directed by Vincente Minnelli and produced by Pandro S. Berman, from a screenplay by Robert Ardrey based on the Flaubert novel.





I don't know if this is true but someone told me that director Clarence Brown suggested Garbo for this MGM  film about Clara Schumann.

Schumann was a German musician, one of the leading pianists of the Romantic era, as well as a composer, and wife of composer Robert Schumann. No more Infos are known.

Katharine Hepburn starred in the 1947 released production titled Song Of Love. The film was no critical success.

VHS cover

Song of Love (1947) is a biopic starring Katharine Hepburn. It was directed by Clarence Brown and released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Hepburn plays Clara Wieck, Henreid plays Robert Schumann, and Walker plays composer Johannes Brahms.

ALTERNATIVE TITLES: A love Story, The Schumann Story, Clara Schumann
SOURCES: Unknown



In early 1946, an american newspaper announced that Garbo will may appear in a Swedish film production.

They wrote that Garbo will play the principal role in a film about the 1700 Century Swedish Colony on the Delaware river.

Garbo's part was going to be an immigrant girl in new Sweden.

SOURCES: Newsmagazine



Henry James's novel The Tragic Muse was also considered to turn into a Garbo “comeback film”.

The novel

The Tragic Muse is a novel by Henry James, first published in 1890. This wide, cheerful panorama of English life follows the fortunes of two would-be artists: Nick Dormer, who vacillates between a political career and his efforts to become a painter, and Miriam Rooth, an actress striving for artistic and commercial success. A huge cast of supporting characters help and hinder their pursuits.




Elisabeth Amalie Eugenie, Duchess in Bavaria, Princess of Bavaria (1837 – 1898) of the House of Wittelsbach, was the Empress consort of Austria and Queen consort of Hungary due to her marriage to Emperor Franz Joseph. 

From an early age, she was called "Sisi" by family and friends. She has undoubtedly become a 20th century icon, often compared to Diana, Princess of Wales. She was considered to be a free spirit who abhorred conventional court protocol. She has inspired filmmakers and theatrical producers alike.

Elizabeth of Austria

One day Garbo had a meeting with Billy Wilder in his house. Walter Reisch was there and so was Wilders wife.

They talked about several possible movie projects for Garbo.

Walter Reisch started with the story of Elizabeth of Austria, the most beautiful woman of the nineteenth century, an empress whose one temptation as a woman was to run away, abdicate and be herself.

“I have played Queen Christina already and I do not want to play another empress“, Greta said.




L'Inconnue de la Seine (French for "the unknown woman of the Seine") was an unidentified young woman whose death mask became a popular fixture on the walls of artist homes after 1900. Her visage was the inspiration for numerous literary works.

One day Garbo had a meeting with Billy Wilder in his house. Walter Reisch was there and so was Wilders wife. They talked about several possible movie projects for Garbo.

La Inconnue de la Seine

Wilder told her the interesting the story of The Unknown woman of the Seine (La Inconnue de la Seine).

Wilder tried to interest Garbo in this story of a drowned girl reconstructing her life and inspired by the famous death mask in the Louvre.

He developed the story of this unknown girl as the wife of a banker. Garbo answered “I do not want to play the wife of a banker“.

ALTERNATIVE TITLES: The Unknown woman of the Seine



Billy Wilder and Walter Reisch tried to get Garbo interested in a comeback.

They arranged to meet her at Billy's house after some suggestions, Walter asked her what she would like to do and Garbo answered:

“A clown, A male clown. Under the makeup and the silk pants, the clown is a woman. And all the admiring girls in the audience who write him letters are wondering why he does not respond. They cannot understand."

They never got any further.

Garbo by Beaton, New York 1946




Dudley Nichols offered Garbo the chance to star in his version of the famous stage play cos he heard that some years ago GG was interested to star in a film version but Garbo wasn't interested, with 42 years old, to play the mother of the 40 year old Rosalind Russell.

The RKO Picture got Russel an Oscar Nomination.

DVD cover

The 1947 film version starred Rosalind Russell, Michael Redgrave, Raymond Massey, Katina Paxinou, Leo Genn and Kirk Douglas. It was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Michael Redgrave) and Best Actress in a Leading Role (Rosalind Russell).

Originally released by RKO at nearly three hours, it was eventually edited down to 105 minutes (losing more than an hour) after it performed poorly at the box office and won no Oscars. It has since been restored to its full length and shown on Turner Classic Movies




The Eagle has two Heads is based on Jean Cocteau's orginal play L'aigle à deux têtes (1947). Producer Alexander Korda had plans to make a film out of this Cocteau play. He wanted to film in London at the Shepperton Studios.

Jean Cocteau

Producer Alexander Korda had plans to make a film out of this  Jean Cocteau play. He wanted to film in London at the Shepperton Studios.

Garbo declared, “It is the only thing I would like to do. It has an atmosphere that appeals to me, and I've always wanted to play Elizabeth of Austria."

In winter of 1947, Garbo and Cecil Beaton saw Marlon Brando on stage in Teneessee Williams A Streetcar named Desire.

Later that evening, Garbo, Beaton, Teneessee and Marlon met and had some talk. Garbo told Brando that she saw The eagle has two heads  on broadway with that  "awful woman of the South, Tallulah Bankhead".

Greta said: "Its a play of great wretchedness. But even bad plays can be fixed for the screen. If I'm o wear decolletage in the film, there's a lot I've got to arrange. Much exercising for me. Much coaxing of my body to get back in shape. Of all the film beeing offered to me right now and they considerable, its the role of a queen that I am going to select for my turn to the screen", said Garbo.

"As you know, I've played Queens before but perhaps you're too young to remember my films." Than Greta told Brando: "I was a star when you were born." Marlon didn't comment.

Marlon Brando

Greta said: "If I agree to do the play and its not final yet, i want you to play my leading man! What actor would turn down a co-starring part in Garbo's return to the pictures? Incidentally, I hate the word 'Comeback'."

At the door to his dressing room, Garbo kissed Brando on both cheeks as aparting gesture. She reached for a rose held in the hand of Cecil Beaton and handed it to Marlon with a certain passion.

She deductively kissed the rose before passing it to him. "That will put the dew on it" she said before departing into the night.

Cecil Beaton said that Garbo really wanted to do the film but surprisingly Garbo got head that Korda had other engagements and can not do the film.

The film was made in 1948 and was Jean Cocteau's film adaptation of his own smash hit play. It stars the impeccably handsome Cocteau regular Jean Marais as Stanislas, a young poet and anarchist set off on an antimonarchist plot to kill the beautiful and mysterious widow queen, Feuillere.

film poster

Cocteau's poetic vision charges the thrilling plot, elegant setting, and eccentric characters with his own unique sensibility of intertwined sexuality, fatality, and voyeurism.

The plot is: As the queen is throwing a ball celebrating the 10th anniversary of her husband's assassination (on their wedding day) Stanislas, chased by dogs and wounded by police gunfire, penetrates the castle and confronts the queen. She is shocked by Stanislas uncanny resemblance to her dead husband, and the two fall instantly in passionate if complicated love. As Stanislas's mission to assassinate the queen transmogrifies into a scheme to rescue her from her morbid state of mourning and subordination to the secret evil powers of the state, the two lovers forge a fatal devotion to each other.

ALTERNATIVE TITLES: The Eagle has Two Wings



While Alexander Korda's and Garbo's project of The Eagle Has Two Heads failed. Korda offered GG the part of Madame Ranevskaya in his film version of this great A. Tschechow play.

Madame Ranevskaya is spoiled aging aristocratic lady, who returns from a trip to Paris to face the loss of her magnificent Cherry Orchard estate after a default on the mortgage.

In denial, she continues living in the past, deluding herself and her family, while the beautiful cherry trees are being axed.

Anton Chekhov

Kroda said that he would have given everything to see Garbo in this role.

Cecil Beaton was asked to do the set design and the costumes but Garbo thought that such a role wouldn't be good for her image as a big star.





The Emperor Waltz is a 1948 comedy musical film, directed by Billy Wilder, from a screenplay by Wilder and Charles Brackett. It was released by Paramount Pictures.

movie poster

Bing Crosby was trying to get GG for this film project.

It was written by the Ninotchka team, Brackett and Wilder. Garbo declined. Billy Wilder directed and Joan Fontaine got Garbo's role.

Joan Fontaine




David O. Selznick wanted to produce this story based on the 1944 Edward F. Murphy novel with Garbo.

It was said that she was really exited to film this fictionalised portrayal of St Mary Magdalene, her life and the times she lived in.

David O. Selznick

Mary Magdalene is described, both in the canonical New Testament and in the New Testament apocrypha, as a devoted disciple of Jesus.

The life of the historical Mary Magdalene is the subject of ongoing debate, while the less-obscure development of the "penitent Megdalene", as the most beloved medieval female saint after Mary, both as an exemplar for the theological discussion of penitence and a social parable for the position and custody of women, provides matter for the social historian and the history of ideas.

Image:Maria Magdalene crucifixion detail.jpeg
St Mary Magdalene

No details are known but I read that he offered her this project along with his idea of a bio-pic about Sarah Bernhardt. Garbo was very interested in both projects.

I also read that it was a dream project, from the early till late 50s, for Jennifer Jones (who was married to Selznick). She always regretted it not to film this story of Mary Magdalene.

Picture fom the orginal novel

The novel: The novel is a fairly straightforward tale of Mary Magdalene as the pentitent sinner who meets Jesus and gives up her life of sin to be born anew. It tends to get a bit cloying and preachy in places.

One of the main themes, as the title suggests, emphasizes the Virgin/Whore dicotomy: that Mary Magdalene is a stained scarlet woman compared to the white purity of the Virgin Mary. According to the version in this novel, the virgin Mary always knew that her son was special and as a result never seemed to suffer because of it, even as she watched him being crucified, something most readers would find difficult to believe. These two woman, first among Jesus' followers, seem to be the very pillars of strength that all women should aspire to.

Despite the author's claims in the forward that this is just fiction, it does tend to read like a medieval morality play, so unless that sort of book appeals to you, you probably won't enjoy it.




David Selznick announces that Garbo will star in a film about the life story of the famous French actress. This news went all around the world.

Sarah Bernhardt

The film was planned many times between 1946 and 1949. A script was written but it never went into production.

David O. Selznick's Sarah Bernhardt , had a sharp script by Ben Hecht and the lure of a dynamic young leading man named Gregory Peck.

Gregory Peck

Selznick sent Garbo a script about Sarah Bernhardt in 1946, and even budgeted a tentative $5 million for the project in Technicolor. But then he decided he'd like her better in The Paradine Case–playing a Swedish barbershop proprietress/murderess.

Later Selznick wanted to replace Garbo with Ingrid Bergman but the project foundered again.

ALTERNATIVE TITLES: Sarah, Sarah Bernhardt, The divine Sarah


GEORGE SAND (1946-48)

David O. Selznick wanted to produce a film version about the life of George Sand with Garbo. A script was written and Laurence Olivier was rumored to be the perfect partner for Chopin.

Laurence Olivier

Amantine Aurore Lucile Dupin, (1804 – 1876), best known by her pseudonym George Sand, was a French novelist and feminist. Her reputation was questioned when she began sporting menswear in public, the clothes being far sturdier and less expensive than a noble woman's dress. Also, she was one of the few female pipe smokers of her time.

George Sand

This male "disguise" also enabled Sand to circulate more freely about Paris, and gave her increased access to venues that might have been denied to a woman of her social standing. This was an exceptional practice for the 19th century, where social codes—especially in the upper class—were of the highest importance.

The film was never made.

ALTERNATIVE TITLES: George Sand & Chopin


ELEONORA DUSE (1947- 1949)

A film version based on the life of the italian actress was one of Garbo's dearest projects. Selznicks wanted to produce and a script was written too.


But like the three other planned Selznick/Garbo projects at this time (Sarah Bernhardt, George Sand & Mary Magdalena) the project never went into further production.

David O. Selznick




On December 1947, Greta and Cecil Beaton attended a performance of Tennessee Williams A Streetcar Named Desire in New York.

After the show they had some talk.

Marlon Brando asked her what sort of role would entice her to return to films and  Greta said that she wanted to make another film, if the part was not male or female.

She said that Dorian Gray was the role she would like to play in a film. If some producers would offer her the  role, she would return to the screen. Garbo admitted that she isn't really interested in returning to the movies.

Later Greta went on to assert that although she'd most prefer to play Dorian Gray, it was likely that she'd return to the screen in The Eagle with two Heads.

Tennessee Williams

Some time later Williams told Brando: “In appearance she is really hermaphroditic, almost as flat as a boy, very thin, the eyes and voice extraordinarily pure and beautiful but she has the cold quality of a mermaid or something. ... She scares me to death.”




After Garbo signed a deal with producer Walter Wanger, George Schlee urged Garbo to play Madame Récamier in a romantic comedy.

Madame Récamier

Schlee wanted to bring over Sacha Guitry from France to collaborate with Salka Viertel on the script. And now it was Salka who refused to participate. Guitry, she said, was a “ fascist sympathizer.”

That idea, too, died.

The French hostess Julie Récamier, or Madame de Récamier (1777–1849), is famed for her charm, beauty, and wit. Her salon attracted most of the important political and literary figures of early 19th-century Paris.

Madame de Récamier was born Jeanne-Françoise-Julie-Adélaïde Bernard on Dec. 4, 1777, in Lyon, France. She was the daughter of a prosperous banker and was convent-educated.

SOURCES: Garbo book



The Magic Mountain (Orginal title: Der Zauberberg) is a novel by Thomas Mann, first published in November 1924. It is widely considered to be one of the most influential works of 20th century German literature.

George Tabori, a well known Hungarian writer and theatre director,  wrote a screen play of  Thomas Mann's Der Zauberberg in early 1950.  English producer Alexander Korda bought the film rights to the novel and Tabori worked on a screenplay  for six month.

Image:Magic mountain.jpg
The novel

The Magic Mountain (Der Zauberberg) is a novel by Thomas Mann, first published in November 1924. It is widely considered to be one of the most influential works of 20th century German literature.

Tabori and Zoltán Korda (Alexander Korda's brother) considered Garbo as Madame Chauchat, Montgomery Clift as Hans Castorp and Charles Laughton was interrested to play.

Montgomery Clift

Charles Laughton

But was this the only cause for his failure? A letter Tabori wrote shows information about his efforts concerning this project:

"A film about a clinic, a sanatorium full of TB patients was for the Hollywood of those years a bad joke. Erika Mann told me that the Korda brothers decided to waive their option on 'Zauberberg'. (Thomas) Mann liked my synopsis.

Could you attend there to this matter? I am sure it would make a wonderful film. Maybe we'll have to involve Klaus (Mann) in the writing of the script, but as most of the time he is either drunk or suicidal he`ll make no problems...", Tabori thought.

In any case, should you meet the Mann family in London, please speak with Erika or Mrs. Mann about this matter (the old gentleman loathes to discuss financial details, but who doesn't ?)"

It is possible that Garbo was indeed interrested. Thomas Mann read the screenplay and liked it but Tabori's agent, Harry Tatterbaum, didn't want to sell the script to the studio. He feared it would damage is reputation in America.

Tabori wrote in his autobiography that he met Garbo and even had an affair ("She never forgave me") with her.

SOURCES: George Tabori Books and Interviews
Thanks to Georg P.



In late 1947,  according to the source, Garbo was going to  appear as George Sands in a picture to be made in spring 1948 in France at Pathe Cinema with George Cukor directing from a story by Salka Viertel and Marcel Achard.

George Cukor

At any rate and in line with arrangements being conducted by Peter Cusick, the film was slated to be produced in spring 1948  by the Laurence Olivier company and equally financed by British, French and American capital.

This latter move, it is understood, will surmount any tax or quota obstacles to the showing of the film in England and on the Continent.

One report has it that Twentieth Century-Fox will serve as the distributor here and there is talk also of dubbing the offering in French for exhibition to Gallic audiences.

According to the plans, the production was going to deal with the phase of George Sand's life when she was involved with the novelist-playwright de Musset.

SOURCES: News magazine



Some time after Garbo signed with Walter Wanger International Productions, the producer hoped to steer Garbo away from George Sand and make another film with her. He had no faith in this project anymore, since too many told him to stay away from "Sand".

Walter Wanger

He had Jean Anouilh, Marcel Archard, Jeann Cocteu and Sasha Guitry wroking on ideas.

Jean Anouilh suggested Norwegian novel by Knut Hamsun – Victoria. A miller's son, Johannes, falls in love with the daughter of a wealthy landowner, Victoria. They lead incomplete lives without each other, but their futures inevitably lead to each other.

The novel

A film about the novel was made in 1935.




Some time after Garbo signed with Wanger International Productions, the producer hoped to steer Garbo away from George Sand. He had no faith in this project anymore, since too many told him to stay away from "Sand".

Walter Wanger

He had Jean Anouilh, Marcel Archard, Jeann Cocteu and Sasha Guitry wroking on ideas.

Marcel Achard thought that Madame Sans-Gêne would make a good film for Garbo.

This is a stage play by Victorien Sardou und Emile Moreau.  Madame Sans-Gêne was Cathérine Hubscher – Duchess of Danzig.

Madame Sans-Gêne

When Garbo was at the Royal Dramatic Theatre Academy in Sweden of 1922-1924, she once had a part of this story on stage. An argentinean movie version of the novel was made in 1945 and it is also interresting to mention that Garbo played the role at the Dramaten (Swedish Royal Acting School)  in 1924.




Some time after Garbo signed with Wanger International Productions, the producer hoped to steer Garbo away from George Sand. He had no faith in this project anymore, since too many told him to stay away from "Sand".

Walter Wanger

He had Jean Anouilh, Marcel Archard, Jeann Cocteu and Sasha Guitry wroking on ideas.

Marcel Achard thought that Elizabeth D'Autriche (Empress Elizabeth of Austria) would make a good film for Garbo.

Elizabeth of Austria



ULYSSES (1948)

A Joyless Street director G. W. Pabst broached an idea for her comeback. He saw Garbo in a double role as Penelope and Circe and even suggested Orson Welles or Clark Gable as her partner. Pabst wanted to film in Italy and send her a rough script.

G. W. Pabst

He waited eagerly for her reaction. “I do nothing but sit and spin,” she said, dismissing the project.

Another source says that Pabst offered her the project between 1950 and 1952.

I also found out that "Walter Wanger international Pictures" may have thought about producing the Pabst directed film.  In 1948, Garbo signed a one movie deal with "Wanger International".

Pabst wanted to film the movie on the island Ischia. Ischia is a volcanic island in the Tyrrhenian Sea, at the northern end of the Gulf of Naples.

A film version called Ulyses, starring K. Douglas and S. Mangano, was made in 1955.

DVD cover




George Cukor invited Salka Viertel  to lunch. He had just read a biography of George Sand. Cukor saw Garbo in the role of the french writer and lover of Chopin. Wouldn't that be a fabulous role for Greta? Why not call her up and talk to her? Salka did so. Greta loved the idea. Cecil, besotted with the notion of his darling strutting about in velvet trousers and puffing a cigar, egged her on. Salka was thrilled.

“Most of George Sand's biographers were biased, condescending and ironical,” she declared. “Only a few condoned her many lovers, her trousers and her socialism.” Salka would teach the blind to see! A friend lent her Sand's letters– to Alfred de Musset, Chopin, Liszt, her lawyer, her children's tutor, and “her despicable husband.”

Salka worked ardently on the project for six months. At first prospects looked rosy. British Independents were wild for the idea. In Hollywood, Walter Wanger (who had produced Queen Christina) and Eugene Frenke actually took an option on it.

Walter Wanger saw Robert Cummings and Salka Viertel saw Montgomery Clift in the Alfred de Musset role. Musset was the French novelist who had a celebrated love affair with George Sand. Cecil Beaton was going to design the costumes for the film.

Robert Cummings

Montgomery Clift

It was going to be filmed in Paris. Garbo signed a deal with Wanger International Productions. Garbo's first deal since she signed for Two-Faced Woman in late 1940.

In September of 1948, when Wanger, Salka, and Garbo met to talk excitedly about the George Sand film, Wanger showed both women The Trial. This new murder-drama about anti-Semitism was made by by G. W. Pabst, who had directed Garbo in The Joyless Street in 1925.

Both Salka and Greta were moved. Delighted, Wanger proposed Pabst as the George Sand director. He duly approached Pabst. Fantastic! Pabst was dying to work with Greta again! But he just happened to have his own wonderful idea. He wanted to direct Garbo not as George Sand, but in an adaptation of Homer's Odyssey, playing both Penelope and Circe.

The producers were not sure what to do. The Viertel script of George Sand didn't make any impression on Wanger. Garbo's “manager” George Schlee hated it. Wanger than offered Garbo the idea to make a film out of Balzac's novel La Duchess de Langelais.

ALTERNATIVE TITLES: George Sand de Musset, Intimate Journal


FRÖKEN JULIE (Sweden 1948)

It was written that Garbo's Swedish friend Alf Sjöberg, a Swedish theatre and film director from Stockholm, again tried to make a film with Garbo. He wanted Garbo to star in his planned film production of Fröken Julie.

No info is known. The film was released in 1951 and became a critical success. It Anita Björk and the English title is Miss Julie.

Anita Björk as Fröken Julie

The plot is: Late 19th century. The young miss Julie lives in a mansion with her father. She has recently broken up her engagement but is attracted to one of the servants, Jean. They spend the midsummer night together, telling memories and their dreams to each other. Realizing that an affair between a man of the people and an aristocrat is impossible, they plan to escape to Switzerland.

DVD Cover art from the 1951 released film.

SOURCE: Garbo book, Internet



This is Garbo's most famous film of her ”Unrealized Projects".

After Wanger and Garbo decided not to do the planned George Sand movie, Garbo re-signed the “one Film” contract with Wanger International Pictures in early 1949.

Fanart by Nici

Everything seemed in key, she made three famous screen-tests, James Mason was going to be her co-star, Max Ophuls set to direct director and the film was going to be filmed in Italy.

Parts of the set was build in summer of 1949 and filming was going to be started in September 1949.The movie was based on Balzac's novel La Duchesse de Langeais telling the tragic love story between a Duchesse and a General.
She refuses to give herself physically to the general, trying to test him and when he revenges her by refusing to see her, she realizes how deeply in love with him she is and flees into a convent.

Fanart by Nici

He realizes his mistake and travels all over Europe in order to find her and when it happens it ends tragically of course.

It is a great part for an actress, demanding an actress who is a great tragedienne, as well a woman of great beauty and personality.


And I believe that Garbo must have been attracted to the aspect of the part of a woman of renouncing her great love in order to keep it intact and withdraws into a convent (a beautiful metaphor for her "renouncing" films).

The loss of financial backing caused Wanger to cancel the film. Returning to America, Garbo said, 'It's over. Never again."

More Infos  HERE!

Supposedly Garbo had seen and admired a french version of the film made in the 1946 with Edwige Feuillere whom she very admired. This movie may had greatly motivated her to do the film.

The original film

ALTERNATIVE TITLES: The duchess of Langelais, Lovers and Friends



Otto Preminger directed a movie version of the famous stage play in 1949.

Walter Reisch wrote the script. They may have offered Garbo the role of Lady Windermere since it was rumoured at this time that she wanted to star in a film version of this famous Oskar Wilde work.

A film was made in 1949 it was titled The Fan and starred Jeanne Crain.

Jeanne Crain




Director Vincente Minelli already wanted to film the movie, for MGM,  in 1946 starring Garbo or Greer Garson.

In late 1948 or early 1949 a news magazine reported that Greta Garbo and Lana Turner were both reportedly under serious consideration for Madame Bovary.

Garbo declined and Lana was pregnant and the part went to Jennifer Jones.

VHS cover from the 1994 released film.

SOURCES: News Magazine


SALOME (late 1940s)

Oskar Wilde's Salome was also a project someone suggested as possible material for a Greta film. Rita Hayworth starred in a film version.

Rita Hayworth in the 1953 released film.




After Alexander Kordas film version of Jean Cocteu's great play didn't turn out, Jean Cocteu produced, starred and directed the film in 1948 on his own and offered Greta the part of Empress Elizabeth.

It is unknown why she declined. The film was made without her.

DVD cover

ALTERNATIVE TITLES: The Eagle with Two Heads,
The Eagle has Two Heads, The Eagle has two Wings



In summer of 1947 Garbo was introduced to Tennessee Williams. The meeting was arranged very carefully and privately like an audience with someone superior to the Pope.

Tennessee Williams later  told Marlon Brando, that at first he wanted to offer Garbo the role of Blanche in a film version of A Streetcar Named Desire but he'd gotten so nervous that he actually pitched another story idea to her.

Tennessee Williams

Garbo and Williams sat in the parlour drinking schnapps and Williams began to tell her the story of The Pink Bedroom. This was a script Tennessee Williams, wrote especially for Greta.

The drama was about the rise and fall of an actress, her mentor and their relationship. The scenario, which Williams hoped she would consider for a future film, wasn't finished and doubtless contained too many biographical similarities and bizarre twists to suit Garbo.

It was about an actress and her agent lover. Yet as he told her the story she kept whispering! ”Wonderful“ leaned toward Williams with a look of entrancement in her eyes. He thought he had convinced her to return to the screen.

But an hour later, when he had finished Garbo sighed and leaned back on her sofa. “Yes, it's wonderful, but not for me. Give it to Joan Crawford."

The plot: Some may doubt the particulars of this exchange, because the first part of The Pink Bedroom should have hit Garbo uncomfortably close to home. Williams never finished it, but his hand-written sketch outlines a weirdly familiar story—of Anna, a famous actress, and her mentor, a director named Stiller (Mauritz has become Michael). Anna is photographed by Arnold Genthe and grows weary of the press.

Eventually breaking with Stiller, she hires a new manager, called Max, and their first picture is a great success, making Anna a star. The plot then departs real life. After the opening-night party, when Stiller finds Anna and Max in bed together, he kills himself—in Anna's pink bedroom.

Ten years pass. Anna takes up with an effeminate incarnation of Sweet Bird of Youth's Chance Wayne. Known as Dolores to his drag-queen friends, he is using Anna to launch his own legitimate career. Returning home one evening, she catches him prancing around in her ermine coat; after a catty exchange, he threatens to leave, but Anna—dangling a ruby-and-gold necklace before his envious eyes—manages to lure him into her pink bedroom. The curtain falls.




In Winter of 1947,Greta and Cecil Beaton saw the successful Tennessee Williams stageplay A Streetcar Names Desire. Later that evening, Greta, Cecil, Brando, Jessica Tandy and Williams sat together and had a long talk.

According to Cecil Beaton, Tennessee Williams had the fantasy of casting Garbo as Blanche Dubois in the movie version.  Precisely how he envisioned the intrinsically European Garbo as a neurotic Southern belle has never been explained. Greta told Tennessee Williams that Blanche DuBois is a bad woman and that she never want to play a bad woman on screen again.

Greta said that she found the character difficult and much too unsympathetic. Garbo told him: “I'm an honest and clear-cut woman. I see things with lucidity. I could never play such complicated woman. I couldn't bear to tell lies and see things around the corner instead of straight-on. I'm too direct and too masculine. Besides, who would believe me as an aging Southern Belle on the verge of madness? I couldn't play Scarlett O'Hara either."

Film poster from the 1951 released film.

Whether or not she played the role, she certainly could identify with Blanche Dubois's fragile sense of self and deepening melancholia. Cecil Beaton asked Brando if he would, over the weekend, do pose for a series of pictures for Vanity Fair with him.

On he next day after the photoshoot, Marlon told Teneessee that Garbo turned down the offer in starring in the film version of “Streetcar”. Tenneessee said: "Just as well. I got carried away when i offered her the role of Blanche. Garbo is wrong for Blanche."

Than he asked Marlon Brando: "Have you ever seen a Drag Queen impersonate Garbo?" Marlon said that he had not. "That's because she is unique. Almost impossible to capture in an impersination. Actually, she's a hermanphrodite with the cold quality of a mermaid. She is definitely not my Blanche."

Later , Williams told Brando that he could play Blanche better than Garbo! The film was made in 1951 starring Vivien Leigh.

SOURCES: Cecil Beaton book



Many skeptics who had no faith in Garbo's intention to work again were silenced in the summer of 1948, when she entered into an agreement with producer Walter Wanger. T hey were a good match, Garbo and the erudite Wanger, who had produced Queen Christina.

Jean-Paul Sartre

 Before they agreed upon a property, Garbo had said to him, "Please make sure that this is a good picture." Immediately after announcing his coup, Wanger was eager to find the right story and writer, Wanger dispatched his associate, Gene Frenke, and Garbo's friend, George Schlee, to Europe. There was talk of securing Jean-Paul Sartre to write a screenplay.




Many skeptics who had no faith in Garbo's intention to work again were silenced in the summer of 1948, when she entered into an agreement with producer Walter Wanger. They were a good match, Garbo and the erudite Wanger, who had produced Queen Christina.

Albert Camus

 Before they agreed upon a property, Garbo had said to him, "Please make sure that this is a good picture." Immediately after announcing his coup, Wanger was eager to find the right story and writer, Wanger dispatched his associate, Gene Frenke, and Garbo's friend, George Schlee, to Europe. There was talk of securing Albert Camus to write a screenplay.




Many skeptics who had no faith in Garbo's intention to work again were silenced in the summer of 1948, when she entered into an agreement with producer Walter Wanger. They were a good match, Garbo and the erudite Wanger, who had produced Queen Christina.

Somerset Maugham

 Before they agreed upon a property, Garbo had said to him, "Please make sure that this is a good picture." Immediately after announcing his coup, Wanger was eager to find the right story and writer, Wanger dispatched his associate, Gene Frenke, and Garbo's friend, George Schlee, to Europe. There was talk of securing Somerset Maugham to write a screenplay.




Many skeptics who had no faith in Garbo's intention to work again were silenced in the summer of 1948, when she entered into an agreement with producer Walter Wanger. They were a good match, Garbo and the erudite Wanger, who had produced Queen Christina.


 Before they agreed upon a property, Garbo had said to him, "Please make sure that this is a good picture." Immediately after announcing his coup, Wanger was eager to find the right story and writer, Wanger dispatched his associate, Gene Frenke, and Garbo's friend, George Schlee, to Europe. There was talk of securing Colette to write a screenplay.




The orginal title is: The Fortunes and Misfortunes of Moll Flanders Who Was Born In Newgate, and During a Life of Continu'd Variety For Threescore Years, Besides Her Childhood, Was Twelve Year a Whore, Five Times a Wife [Whereof Once To Her Own Brother], Twelve Year a Thief, Eight Year a Transported Felon In Virginia, At Last Grew Rich, Liv'd Honest, and Died a Penitent is a 1722 novel by Daniel Defoe.

Daniel Defoe

Walter Wanger thought this would be a good story for Garbo's comeback picture and suggested it to Garbo and his team.

The plot is: The daughter of a thief, young Moll is placed in the care of a nunnery after the execution of her mother. However, the actions of an abusive priest lead Moll to rebel as a teenager, escaping to the dangerous streets of London. Further misfortunes drive her to accept a job as a prostitute from the conniving Mrs. Allworthy.

It is there that Moll first meets Hibble, who is working as Allworthy's servant but takes a special interest in the young woman's well-being. With his help, she retains hope for the future, ultimately falling in love with an unconventional artist who promises the possibility of romantic happiness.




Like David O'Selznick, Walter Wanger thought this would be a good story for Garbo's comeback picture in 1948 and suggested it to Garbo and his team.

Eleonora Duse




Like David O'Selznick, Walter Wanger thought this would be a good story for Garbo's comeback picture in 1948 and suggested it to Garbo and his team.

Image:Maria Magdalene crucifixion detail.jpeg
St Mary Magdalene




After Walter Wanger signed a deal with Garbo for one film, he was eager for Garbo to take on a great role, and he wasn't alone. After Louella Parsons and Sidney Skolsky reported the imminent reappearance of the star, aspiring screenwriters and fans deluged the producer's office with ideas and advice:

Grayce Rodriguez wrote from El Paso:

"Puleese—no modern stuff for Greta—somehow she doesn't go with bobby-soxer stuff. She belongs to the age of mystery, romance, thinking—when men and women knew how to make love and did...." 

Martin Godfrey of Los Angeles:

"A story for Greta Garbo? I might have one. IF Miss Garbo has the courage and the intelligence to play a woman of her age." To hear more, Wanger would have to respond; apparently he did not. 

Arthur J. Dowling, a young Englishman

Dowling submitted his screen treatment of Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, describing the title character as "much in love with the surface of life, with the par¬ties at which she hopes (in Woolf's words) 'to create, kindle, illuminate... "

Joseph Zahorsky of West Aliquippa, Pennsylvania:

Zahorsky trotted out a heavy repertoire: Shakespeare's Cleopatra, Portia in The Merchant of Venice, and Kate in Taming of the Shrew; Roxanne in Cyrano de Bergerac; and Hedda Gabler. But he added, "Whatever you choose will be alright as long as you film it in Technicolor." 

John Hodges from Memphis:

Hodges was distressed to hear Robert Cummings mentioned as a possible co-star in the Wanger project. "Please inform Mr. Cummings that he is not fit to play opposite Miss Garbo," wrote the fan, who also weighed in on costume design and makeup.

"It seems an insult to let Valentina do them.... [And] don't smear Miss Garbo with dry pancake and rouge.... Consult Paramount for la Dietrich's make-up formula. This Garbo film must not be second rate. If you can spend millions on Bergman, you can treat Greta properly, too. Remember, you have a trust, a duty to the world when you work with this nonpareil."




Jack Warner offered her the role but Garbo declined too. The film was made with Viveca Lindfors.

Viveca Lindfors

The plot is: After serving bravely in WWII, American Paul remains in France and becomes a black marketeer. He meets Christine, an attractive French girl whose husband is in jail for collaborating with the Nazis, and they fall in love. But before they can make a life together, they must confront the "demons" that keep them apart.




Producer Dore Schary proposes this costume drama variation on the famous French legend of a man in an iron mask but fails to raise any enthusiasm from Garbo after she offered her the part.

Film poster from the 1951 released film.

The production team W. Wanger & E. Frenke produced a similar film in 1951. They may have too thought about casting Garbo at one time, after the production of  La Duchess De Langelais was stopped in early 1950.



THREE SISTERS (late 1940s)

Three Sisters is a play, written in 1900 and first produced in 1901, by Russian author Anton Chekhov. It is considered among Chekhov's major plays.

Anton Chekhov

Someone suggested Garbo this story for a possible film and saw her in the part of Masha.




A reporter (?) asked Garbo what role she would love to play. She said that she would love to play Cyrano De Bererac in a film version. No details are known.

Cyrano de Bergerac (1619 – 1655) was a French dramatist and duelist who is now best remembered for the many works of fiction which have been woven around his life story.

Image:Gravure-cyrano2 lien.jpg
Cyrano de Bergerac

In these fictional works he is featured with an overly large nose; portraits suggest that he did have a big nose, though not nearly as large as described in Rostand's play and the subsequent works about him. There is a statue of him in Bergerac, Dordogne, the French market town.

A film, with José Ferrer, was made in 1950.



HAMLET (1948)

Hamlet is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, probably written between 1599 and 1601. The play, set in Denmark, recounts how Prince Hamlet exacts revenge on his uncle Claudius, who has murdered Hamlet's father, the King, and then taken the throne and married Hamlet's mother.

William Shakespeare

The play vividly charts the course of real and feigned madness—from overwhelming grief to seething rage—and explores themes of treachery, revenge, incest, and moral corruption.

A reporter (?) asked Garbo what role she would love to play. She said that she would love to play Hamlet in a film version. No details are known.




The Picture of Dorian Gray is the only published novel written by Oscar Wilde, and first came out as the lead story in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine on June 20, 1890. Wilde later revised this edition, making several alterations, and adding new chapters; the amended version was published by Ward, Lock, and Company in April 1891.

Oscar Wilde

A reporter (?) asked Garbo what role she would love to play. She said that she would love to play Dorian Gray in a film version. No details are known.



PETER PAN (1948)

Peter Pan is a character created by Scottish novelist and playwright J. M. Barrie (1860–1937). A mischievous boy who flies and magically refuses to grow up, Peter Pan spends his never-ending childhood adventuring on the small island of Neverland as the leader of his gang the Lost Boys, interacting with fairies and pirates, and from time to time meeting ordinary children from the world outside. In addition to two distinct works by Barrie, the character has been featured in a variety of media and merchandise.

J. M. Barrie

A reporter (?) asked Garbo what role she would love to play. She said that she would love to play Peter Pan in a film version. No details are known.



Desdemona is the wife of Othello based on the play The Tragedy of Othello, The Moor of Venice by William Shakespeare, written around the year 1603.

Image:Desdemona othello.jpg
Desdemona by Frederic Leighton

Walter Wanger thought this would be a good story for Garbo's comeback picture in 1948 and suggested it to Garbo and his team.



MEDEA (late 1940s)

Medea is a tragedy written by Euripides, based on the myth of Jason and Medea and first produced in 431 BC. Along with the plays Philoctetes, Dictys and Theristai, which were all entered as a group, it won the third prize (out of three) at the Dionysia festival. The plot largely centers on the protagonist in a struggle with the world, rendering it the most Sophoclean of Euripides' extant plays.

Medea, by Evelyn de Morgan

No details are known. Another suggestion by someone.



ADOLPHE (late 1940s)

Based on the novel by Benjamin Constant and was considered as a possible Film for Garbo.

Adolphe is a classic French novel by Benjamin Constant, first published in 1816. It tells the story of an alienated young man, Adolphe, who falls in love with an older woman, Ellénore.

Image:Adolphe novel 1842 title.jpg
Title page from the 1842 edition of Adolphe

Cecil Beaton writes in his diaries that Garbo was perfect for the romantic and sad Elleonore in Adolphe. He wrote a letter to Garbo and told her that he had I read Adolphe.

Cecil Beaton told her :  “It is a wonderful book written in such a wonderfully succinct style - with only the very essentials and how marvellous the description of love, which makes me remember so much of our times together”.

As to the idea of Garbo's comeback to the screen as a woman who throughout the film is in this degrading and terrible situation of being more in love with her lover than he is with her, it seems to be Beaton well very unsuitable.

Benjamin Constant

A film, based on the Benjamin Constant novel, was made in 1968.

SOURCES: Cecil Beaton book


QUO VADIS (1949)

Quo Vadis is an epic 1951 film made by MGM. It was directed by Mervyn LeRoy and produced by Sam Zimbalist, from a screenplay by John Lee Mahin, S. N. Behrman and Sonya Levien, adapted from the classic 1895 novel Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz. Screenwriter S.N. Behrman wanted Garbo for Quo Vadis.  It is unknown which role she was going to do. The film was shot in Italy at Cinecittà Studios (the big Italian Film city) in the same time as Garbo was doing La Duchess De Langelais.

The film was originally cast in 1949 with Elizabeth Taylor as Lygia and Gregory Peck as Marcus Vinicus. When the production changed hands the following year, the roles went to Deborah Kerr and Robert Taylor.

Image:Quo Vadis.jpg
original movie poster

Its is possible that Henry Henigson (MGM's top executive in Rome), offered Garbo a role in the production, after the Duchess project was stopped in fall of 1949.

Maybe the part of Empress Poppea? We will never know.

The filming of Quo Vadis also had some troubles and the production was stopped until 1950.

SOURCES: Italian Magazine, GARBO book



The  fictitious book "The Greta Garbo Murder Case" wrote that  Erich von Strohheim wanted to direct this film with Greta as Joan of Arc.

The Greta Garbo Murder Case

He hired Salka and Peter Viertel for the Screenplay.

Produced, with a 5 Mio $ budget, by Albert Guiss. Garbo was offered 1 Mio $ to play the lead in this Technicolor project. Boris Karloff was also considered for a role.

Garbo found herself to old to play Saint Joan in a film.

SOURCE: The Greta Garbo Murder Case


LORENZACCIO (late 40s)

Lorenzaccio  is a famous drama by Alfred de Musset and George Sand written in 1833.

It's the story of a young idealist who killed Duca Alessandro de' Medici. Than he was forced to leave his town, to avoid to be killed. He went to France, Venice and Constantinople in search for help. The story is set in Florence of the '500.

French actor Gérard Philipe as Lorenzaccio on stage, ca. mid1930s

Cecil Beaton said that Garbo was interested in this story and maybe even imagined herself in a film version.

SOURCES: Cecil Beaton book


LADY MCBETH (late 1940s)

Macbeth is among the best-known of William Shakespeare's plays. Suggested by one of Greta's friends, as possible material for a Comeback. No details are known.

A 1948 released film was also made by Orson Welles.

film poster




An interesting idea by Clarence Brown for a possible comeback film. No details are known.

Image:Domenico Beccafumi 026.jpg
Detail of a work by Domenico Beccafumi, c. 1515

Saint Catherine of Siena, O.P. (1347 -  1380) was a Tertiary (a lay affiliate) of the Dominican Order, and a scholastic philosopher and theologian. She deliberately told popes, queens and kings how to behave. She was spontaneous, unafraid of authority and fearless in the face of death. She was a Dominican religious who corresponded with Popes and peasants alike.

During her life as a religious, St. Catherine had numerous visions and long ecstasies, but she is most remembered for her writings, which eventually led to her being declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI in 1970. Truth be known, she didn't learn how to write until the end of her life, but that never stopped her. She dictated her literary masterpieces, sometimes reciting three documents to three secretaries at the same time.



THE FLAME (1948)

Walter Wanger thought this would be a good story for Garbo's comeback picture in 1948 and suggested it to Garbo and his team . It is one of D'Annunzio's most significant novels – Il Fuoco.

Image:Gabriele D'Annunzio.jpg

The Flame of Life or  Il fuoco, written in 1900, D'Annunzio's portrays himself as the Nietzschean Superman Stelio Effrena, in a fictionalized account of his love affair with Eleonora Duse. His short stories showed the influence of Guy de Maupassant. He was also associated with the Marchesa Luisa Casati, an influence on his novels.




Another story suggested as a comeback film. Based on Henry James novel.

The Princess Casamassima is a novel by Henry James, first published as a serial in The Atlantic Monthly in 1885-1886 and then as a book in 1886. It is the story of an intelligent but confused young London bookbinder, Hyacinth Robinson, who becomes involved in radical politics and a terrorist assassination plot.

Cover a of 1987 edition of The Princess Casamassima

The illegitimate and impoverished son of a dressmaker and a nobleman, Hyacinth Robinson has grown up with a strong sense of beauty that heightens his acute sympathy for the inequalities that surround him.

Drawn into a secret circle of radical politics he makes a rash vow to commit a violent act of terrorism. But when the Princess Casamassima – beautiful, clever and bored – takes him up and introduces him to her own world of wealth and refinement, Hyacinth is torn.

He is horrified by the destruction that would be wreaked by revolution but still believes he must honour his vow. He finds himself gripped in an agonizing and ultimately, fatal dilemma.

A compelling blend of psychological observation, wit and compassion, Princess Casamassima (1886) is one of Henry James's most deeply personal novels.




The Ballad and the Source (1944) is a only novel by Rosamond Lehmann. It was another story suggested for a possible Garbo film. Its a drama set place in the mid-Victorian era and the first World War.

Ballad and the Source
book cover

The Plot:

The tale of the unlikely friendship between and an old woman and a young girl, this is one of Rosamond Lehmann's finest novels Ten year old Rebecca is living in the country with her family when Sibyl Jardine, an enigmatic and powerful old woman, returns to her property in the neighbourhood.

The two families, once linked in the past, meet again, with the result that Rebecca becomes drawn into the strange complications of the old lady's life - with her husband, her errant daughter and her grandchildren. Through the spellbound eyes of the young Rebecca we enter into an intricate and scandalous family history and slowly the story of the passionate, stormy life of Mrs. Jardine unfolds.



MOTHER COURAGE (late 1940s)

Mother Courage and Her Children (German: Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder) is a play written in 1939 by the German dramatist and poet Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) with significant contributions from Margarete Steffin.

After four very important theatrical productions in Switzerland and Germany from 1941 to 1952 - the last three supervised and/or directed by Brecht - the play was filmed several years after Brecht's death in 1959/1960 with Brecht's widow and leading actress, Helene Weigel.

the novel

Salka Viertel suggested Greta this story, as a possible film idea Mother Courage was written by Berthold Brecht.



HEDDA GABLER (late 40s)

Hedda Gabler is both a play and a fictional character created by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. First published in 1890 and premiered the following year in Germany to negative reviews, the play Hedda Gabler has subsequently gained recognition as a classic of realism, nineteenth century theater, and world drama.

Henrik Ibsen

A 1902 production was a major sensation on Broadway starring Minnie Maddern Fiske and following its initial limited run was revived with the actress the following year. The character of Hedda is one of the great dramatic roles in theatre, the "female Hamlet," and some portrayals have been very controversial. Depending on the interpretation, Hedda may be portrayed as an idealistic heroine fighting society, a victim of circumstance, a prototypical feminist, or a manipulative villain.

This Ibsen play was another idea suggested by someone.




Jean Anouilh suggested Garbo to make a film about the daughter of Francis I, King of France. The Duchess was famous for her styles and her costume balls.

Margaret of France, Duchess of Berry

ALTERNATIVE TITLES: Margaret of France, La duchess de Berry


OTHELLO (late 1940s)

The Tragedy of Othello, The Moor of Venice is a play by William Shakespeare, written around the year 1603. The work revolves around four central characters: Othello, his wife Desdemona, his lieutenant Cassio, and his trusted advisor Iago.

Because of its varied themes — racism, love, jealousy and betrayal - the play remains relevant to the present day, and is still very popular.

Image:Desdemona othello.jpg
Desdemona by Frederic Leighton

Rumor is that one producer wanted to make a new film version and offered Garbo the part of Desdemona. Desdemona is a fictional character in the play Othello by William Shakespeare. She is Othello's wife, and the daughter of Senator Brabantio. In the play, Iago successfully persuades Othello that Desdemona is unfaithful and uses this belief to destroy their lives, eventually leading Othello to murder her. The film was never made.

SOURCES: magazine

Thanks to Werner


THE ODYSSEE (late 1940s)

Another rumor. We got this info from an Orson Welles fan.

Welles planned a movie based on Homer's classic The Odyssey. This is the story about Odysseus' decade-long return from the Trojan War to his homeland of Ithaca in Greece. Welles wanted to direct and  to star as Odysseus himself. He also considered Garbo as Penelope, Odysseus loyal wife.

Welles, early 1940s.

No further infos are known.

SOURCE: Orson Welles book



Les Enfants Terribles is a 1929 book by Jean Cocteau. It concerns two siblings, Elizabeth and Paul, who isolate themselves from the world as they grow up; this isolation is shattered by the stresses of their adolescence.

Jean Cocteau

Jean Cocteau admired so strong Greta Garbo that he written the part of with Elisabeth with Garbo in mind. He may asked her to appear in the planned film version of his 1929 released novel.

The plot: Elisabeth is very protective of her teenage brother Paul, who is injured in a snowball fight at school and has to rest in bed most of the time. The siblings are inseparable, living in the same room, fighting, playing secret games, and rarely leaving the house; though Paul's friend Gerard often stays with them.

One day Elisabeth brings home Agathe to live with them also. She bears a strong resemblance to Dargelos, a schoolboy whom Paul had a crush on, and who injured him. Paul and Agathe become attracted to each other, causing Elizabeth to be very jealous.

A French film was made in 1950. It was directed by Jean-Pierre Melville.

DVD cover of the 1950 released film.



SAPHO (1948)

Garbo's 1931 film Inspiration was inspired by A. Daudet's novel Sapho but this time, the film was going to be fully based on the orginal novel.

George Cukor was set to direct and David O. Selznick was going to produce the picture. They believed that Daudet's Sapho was especially worthy of re-examination.

Garbo had the role Fanny Legrand and they wanted Montgomery Clift as her young lover.

Montgomery Clift

Salka Viertel arranged a meeting between Garbo and Monty. They liked each other very much but the project didn't went into production.

In August 1948, Cukor was informed that Garbo signed a movie deal with Walter Wanger and that they want to make the George Sand story.

A film, based on the novel, was made in 1934.

ALTERNATIVE TITLES: Sappho, Fanny Legrand



Walter Wanger was interested in making a film about the best selling Karen Blixen novel with Garbo. Out of Africa is a memoir by Isak Dinesen (the pseudonym of Danish Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke), first published in 1937.




As early as the 1950's, Orson Welles wanted to produce a film about Blixen's best selling novel, starring Garbo. Welles was a huge admire of Dinesen and her memoir and he considered Garbo for the leading role in her most famous book.

Out of Africa is a memoir by Isak Dinesen (the pseudonym of Danish Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke), first published in 1937.

Isak Dinesen

The book describes events during 1914–1931 concerning European settlers and the local tribesmen in the bush country of Kenya (British East Africa), from seaside Mombasa to Nairobi, from Mount Kenya to Kilimanjaro, as told from the lyrical, poetic viewpoint of Dinesen.




Garbo turned down a chance to be the next Miss Hush in radio's Truth or Consequences guessing game.

Her agent sent a message to M.C. Ralph Edwards: "Miss Garbo never heard of you . . . and the one & only time she ever listened to the radio was to hear President Roosevelt announce the war against the Axis."

SOURCES: News magazine



Sunset Boulevard is a 1950 American film noir classic. Directed and co-written by Billy Wilder, it was named after the famous boulevard of the same name that runs through Los Angeles and Beverly Hills.

DVD cover of the 1950 released film

Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett met with Greta Garbo.They tried to convince her to make a comeback for the role of Norma Desmond. Garbo declined.

Gloria Swanson

Gloria Swanson starred in the 1950 film.

SOURCES: GARBO book, Internet


PHEADRA (1949)

A French news paper wrote on Oct 14, 1949 that Garbo will may appear in a ballet verison of Phedre, at the Paris opera house. Garbo will not dance the part but mime. Staged and with words  by Jean Cocteau. Music by  Georges Auric and choreography by Serge Lifar.

Jean Cocteau

Auric, the composer of the music said that Garbo in possession of the manuscript and that and that they now were awaiting her definitive decision.if she accepts she will mime the role, not dance. After Garbo declined the part went to ballerina Tamara Toumanova.




Onassis  was the most famous shipping magnate of the 20th century and also a personal friend of Garbo. They met several times and it is rumored that Onassis wanted to finance Garbo's comeback film.


One rumor is he wanted to be one of the finance's of La duchess de langelais and other sources wrote that he told Garbo that he wanted to fiance a "giant" picture for her.

It is not knwon what it was.


Thanks to Werner



Elia Kazan was a Greek-American film and theatre director, film and theatrical producer, screenwriter, novelist and cofounder of the influential Actors Studio in New York in 1947. Rumor is he offered Garbo a riole in one of his produced stage plays. It is not known what role it was.

Elia Kazan

SOURCES: magazine

Thanks to Werner

1940-1944          Unrealized Projects          1950-1954


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