Career of Famous Actress Greta Garbo

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Greta Garbo was a Swedish-born American filmed actress during the 1920s to 1930s. Her film career started in 1920 and went through 1941, when her last film Two-faced woman debuted. During her career she was nominated for a total of four Oscars as the best actress. She was also ranked as one of the fifth greatest Hollywood actresses in her time. Garbo came across as being very mysterious. All of her silent films were very much focused on her unique beauty. She came at a point in time where American films only really featured Americans.

She had never been spoken about. She was just a new fresh Swedish face.

Her mystery really erupted fromthe fact that her voice was never heard in her silent films, making the people very curios of this new beautuful swedish woman, so by the time her first movie came around, it was devoted mainly to the fact that she spoke. She recieved her highest salary after she made Camille, at that time she had only be acting for a little over ten years.

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After Camille, she shortyly retired. She made three more films and was retired by the ripe age of thirty six. She spent the rest of her retired day alone. She was never married, and had no children and decided to live in hiding in her New York apartment. In 1926 she starred in one of her first American films, Temptress, where she immediately sets off her iconic image of silent vamp. Her character had nonchalant mannerisms with a hint of delicate gloominess.

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She was careless and evened spineless, not really caring for the consequences that occurred to men that fell for her stunning beauty. Men found her to be absolutely beautiful and drowned in her mystery stare which then causes them to fall instantly in love with her, resulting in most of their deaths. There is also little note during the film that says “God makes men and women make fools.”, which exactly what happens to these men.

Elena was a bit heartless, and her beauty overpowered it. That very beauty is presented as something of a curse which she has little control over. But she is still elegant and tragic all in one. She was heartless to all but one man. A stranger that she fell in love with. Her character was portrayed to still be somewhat caring at times. She showed some motherly traits when she rocked the toddler to sleep and aided to Robledo’s wounds.

But for her, everything was really about maintaining that lovely, classy image, making sure she was always in her lovely gowns, that her hair and makeup were always neatly done. She wanted to always look her part of riches. In the end she lost it all and herself as she finds herself homeless and shabby looking with no care for anything now, bshe only cared for an alcoholic drink. Her character doesn't necessarily develop much by the end of film, just by becoming homeless. Because, she is till careless when she sees her lost love again.In 1932 Garbo plays in the Grand Hotel, a lovely Russian ever enchanting ballerina. She is always looking exceptionally radiant. In the role of this character Garbo is still very sophisticated and classy. She is lithe and lovely in the flimsy gownery which makes her convincingly a dancer - even in the knee-length ballet costume of tarlatan and the ballet slippers (Nydailynews). Garbo is fascinating in her street clothes, high-crowned millinery, chinchilla and mink . She is much sweeter and even has a much more mellowness to her voice as well as very gentle when she speaks. In this film, she has evolved slightly from the last one I spoke about. She is this sensual dancer and everyone is very enchanted by her. However, she is still very melodramatic because this character's career is fading so she is sad at some points cancelling shows with no hope. But still manages to remain kind and upbeat. She finds love yet again ( at her lowest point) in a perfect stranger (as she did in Temptress) that is also a guest at the Grand Hotel and is completely smitten. She is conveniently hopelessly romantic for him which gives her this burst of energy and joy. It gives her the confidence that was missing for her to went on with her performances every night knowing that she has discovered this understanding version of love that she never knew existed. The scenario really shows that love does conquer all and that it does not matter that one's career could be failing, representing a great example of gender roles in the 1930's. Even Garbo’s accent was beautifully displayed with her already admired character. She is tender and hopeful and patiently waits for her handsome new love to return and she is ready to depart and start her new journey with him as well as continue her shows. Her role was touching and compelling without having seen not one danced scene. But as they repeated several times “Grand Hotel. Always the same. People come. People go. Nothing ever happens.” and that ;indeed, was the case on most days but far from the truth here. Things did happen, a murder occurred but everyone acted as if nothing happened and everything went on as normal.

In 1936 Greta Garbo plays the glamorous, romantic, beautiful but sickly Marguerite Gautier in Camille. One of Hollywood’s Golden Age's greatest melodramatic love/tragedy stories. In this film Garbo really shines, she is exquisite and wonderfully divine. She was nominated for her third Academy Awarded for this film and was named Best Actress by New York Film Critics Circle. She has definitely matured from the prior 2 films. Garbo continues with her sophisticated, classy formal elegance.

Greta Garbo is funny and witty, a complete delight. In one scene referring to friendship she says “ Cows and chickens make better friends than I've ever met in Paris”. whithin the role of this character, she too falls in love with a stranger. A younger man that had been in love with her for months. She is presented with financial difficulties and problems with the in-laws prevent her the pleasure of marriage.

Throughout these films, she has continued portrayed a wealthy glamorous diva. Only as Marguerite, she seems more mature, more kind, giving and generous. She displays a selfless love that eventually breaks her heart causing her illness to speed up. There were a various scene where she was feeling ill and coughing but still that was presented in a classy way. As she was always coughing in a white lace handkerchief. Of course that had to do with a mannerism and etiquette, still she did it with sophistication and grace.

I love how open and honest her responses were. The way she spoke at times seemed poetic. A scene that stood out to me was when she said “ It's hard to believe that there's such happiness in this world.You will never love me thirty years. No one will” and Armand said “I'll love you all my life. I know that now. All my life.” Marguerite; then, says to him “ let me love you. Let me live for you. But don't let me ask any more from Heaven than that - God might get angry”. I think those words very touching and I really liked how in many of the “old days” films they had genuine religious belief. Another beautiful quote is when Marguerite says “ Perhaps it’s better if I live in your heart, where the world can’t see me. If i’m dead, there will be no stain on our love”. That scene was beautifully sad and yet romantic. It almost gave me as the viewer hope, perhaps his love was going to save her and revive her. But it didn’t. Overall, within the three films that I had the pleasure of watching, I must say that Greta Garbo was a phenomenal actress from her silent, heartless role in the temptress to her dramatic but romantic semi role in Grand Hotel, ( I say semi because she was not the main attraction in the film) to her astonishing performance in Camille, I would say that she as an actress was able to maintain a respectable, classy, sophisticated image and always loved by a handsome beau or two. She was very strong-willed and brave, believing in love. It truly is a shame that she retired at such a young age. She would’ve had many more opportunities to be amazing all over again. She most definitely portrayed that IT girl icon in Hollywood’s Golden Age. But at least she was able to create the legacy she wanted.

As Emmanuel Levy stated in 2005, “George Cukor's Camille was the fourth–and best–film version of the famous Alexander Dumas work. Cukor said at the time: 'Camille is a true and tried piece of work that can seem hackneyed unless the actress is really gifted and there's happy meeting of actress and the part.' Indeed, the film features the 'divine' Garbo in one of her finest screen roles, as Marguerite Gautier, the tragic courtesan who must sacrifice her happiness in order to prove her love.”


  1. Levy, Emmanuel. “Camille (1937): Garbo's Definitive Performance.” Emanuel Levy, 24 Dec. 2005,
Updated: Oct 12, 2021
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Career of Famous Actress Greta Garbo. (2021, Oct 12). Retrieved from

Career of Famous Actress Greta Garbo essay
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