Sunday, May 2, 2010

Garbo spricht!

Overnight between Sunday and Monday, TCM has its weekly Silent Sunday Night movie, followed by TCM Imports. This week's import is Anna Christie, at 2:00 AM ET. The thing is, it's not really an import, but a German-language version of MGM's earlier English-language Anna Christie, famous for being the first talkie for Greta Garbo.

What MGM did isn't unheard of. At the beginning of the sound era, studios would sometimes save money by making the same movie in more than one language. They'd make the English version first, and then keep the same sets for use by the crew making a movie in, say, French or German. Alfred Hitchcock did this, for example, when he made the "German" movie Mary, which is really just a remake of Murder!. And if you want to see Adolphe Menjou acting in French, you can try to find one of a couple of movies he made, such as the drawing-room comedy Soyons Gais, a remake of Let Us Be Gay. The latter has been shown on TCM; I don't know about the French version. Also Menjou made two foreign-language versions of the early Paramount talkie Slightly Scarlet, one in French and one in Spanish!

That having been said, this German-language version of Anna Christie also stars Garbo in the title role, but the rest of the actors are different.

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