The Painted Veil


1h 23m 1934
The Painted Veil

Brief Synopsis

A wife strays, then fights to redeem herself to her husband.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Release Date
Nov 23, 1934
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham (New York, 1925).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 23m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9 reels

Synopsis

After her sister Olga marries and leaves home, Katrin Koerber, the daughter of an Austrian medical professor, fights loneliness and dreams of a more exciting life outside Austria. Consequently, when Dr. Walter Fane, a British bacteriologist, asks her to marry him and move to Hong Kong, she agrees, even though she is not in love with him. As soon as the newlyweds arrive in Hong Kong, however, Walter becomes subsumed in his medical work, and Katrin becomes the romantic target of Jack Townsend, the unhappily married attaché to the British embassy. While showing her the city's exotic sights, Jack flirts with Katrin and kisses her. Katrin, unnerved by Jack's actions, retreats to her house, but soon rejoins him to observe local dancers performing at a Buddhist festival. Stimulated by the dancing and the atmosphere of a Buddhist temple, Jack confesses his love to Katrin, and Katrin admits that she is not in love with Walter. At home, Katrin then treats Walter coolly and reveals that his chronic lateness and fatigue annoy her. To make amends, Walter comes home early the next day, but discovers Katrin's bedroom door locked and Jack's hat on a table. That evening, Walter confronts Katrin with his suspicions, and she admits that she loves Jack. Distraught, Walter tells Katrin that he will grant her a divorce only if Jack promises in writing that he will divorce his wife and marry her. When Katrin presents Walter's conditions to Jack, he tells her that a divorce would ruin both his career and his reputation and backs out of the affair. Heartbroken, Katrin reluctantly accompanies Walter to an inland region of China, where a cholera epidemic is raging. While Walter struggles to arrest the epidemic, Katrin grows more and more despondent and lonely. Seeing Katrin's desperate condition, Walter finally offers to send her back to Hong Kong, then prepares to leave for a remote river village that has been identified as the root of the epidemic. After Walter has left, Jack realizes his genuine love for Katrin and leaves Hong Kong for the inland. Walter, who has ordered the infected village burned, then returns from the village and is overjoyed to find Katrin helping young cholera victims at an orphanage. In the chaos, Walter is stabbed, and Katrin rushes to be near him. While waiting to see her husband, Katrin is confronted by Jack, but tells him that she now loves only Walter and at last understands the sacrifices he makes for medicine. After Jack departs, Katrin assures the wounded Walter that she at last has fallen in love with him.

Cast

Greta Garbo

Katrin [Koerber Fane]

Herbert Marshall

[Dr.] Walter Fane

George Brent

Jack Townsend

Warner Oland

General Yu

Jean Hersholt

Herr Koerber

Bodil Rosing

Frau Koerber

Katharine Alexander

Mrs. Townsend

Cecilia Parker

Olga

Soo Yong

Amah

Forrester Harvey

Waddington

Hans Von Morhart

Bridegroom

Alice Cooke

Curious woman

Jane Kerr

Cruel woman

Camille Rovelle

Fish-faced girl

Ricca Allen

Fish-faced mother

Jane Keckley

German teacher

Mariska Aldrich

German teacher

Lillianne Leighton

German teacher

Vernon Dent

Chief of police

W. H. Davis

German

Maidena Armstrong

German

Flora Finch Becker

German German

Jack Lipson

Fat man

Gus Leonard

Major-domo

Dorothea Wolbert

Stuttering woman

Mary Mclaren

Motherly woman

Robert Mckenzie

Jovial German

Delmar Watson

Crying boy

Lillian Lawrence

Spinster

Otto Hoffman

Husband

Eddie Lee

Chinese boy

Keye Luke

Shay Kee Seng

Olaf Hytten

Dr. Somerset

Herbert Farjeon

Dr. Simons

George Lee

Dr. Yencheu

Jack Don

Chinese officer

Lee Tin

Dr. Jupie

James Wang

Proprietor of curio shop

Terry Spencer

Groom

Mary Forbes

Mrs. Braithwaite

Ethel Griffies

Lady Coldchester

Henry Mowbray

Lord Chester

Leo Mccabe

Pendergrass

Jeffrey Halse

Ricketts

Leland Hodgson

Polo player

Jack Perry

Polo player

Robert A'dair

Polo player

Roland Morrison

Polo player

Phil Ormsby

Polo player

Margaret Mann

Mother Superior

Colin Kenny

Englishman

Leonard Mudie

Secretary

Lawrence Grant

English governor

Susanne Ransom

Child

Y. C. Shui

Tong Ching

Toshia Mori Jung

Specialty dancer

Laura Lau

Specialty dancer

Oui Louie

Specialty dancer

Charles Teske Dancers

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Release Date
Nov 23, 1934
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham (New York, 1925).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 23m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9 reels

Articles

The Painted Veil


The word "Garbo" is the first thing that appears on the screen during The Painted Veil (1934), and it remains as a background motif throughout the other credits. The idea for this came from Greta Garbo's agent, Harry Eddington, who wanted to place his famous client in the company of Eleonora Duse and Sarah Bernhardt -- actresses for whom only a surname was necessary. In this screen version of the Somerset Maugham novel, set in the mysterious Orient, Garbo plays a woman who commits adultery but redeems herself during a cholera epidemic.

Garbo enjoyed both Herbert Marshall, who played her husband, and George Brent, who played her lover. Her biographer, Barry Paris, wrote that during filming she "was more sociable than usual, frequently lingering on the set to converse with Marshall, [or] share a laugh with Brent..."Marshall was impressed with her kindness, later recalling that during some rain-drenched crowd scenes Garbo "displayed keen concern for several elderly ladies in the mob, actresses who had been more important at another time."

Garbo was intrigued by Brent, who was dubbed "the male edition of Garbo" by the Hollywood press because of his athleticism and love of solitude. The two formed a close friendship, visiting secluded restaurants and having quiet dinners at Brent's home -- where they sometimes boxed in the backyard! Rumors spread that they were having a torrid love affair. Brent reportedly told friends he was in love with Garbo and wanted to marry her. But Garbo entertained no such ideas, and Brent was completely out of her life within a couple of years.

As The Painted Veil was released, MGM's publicity department sent a letter to theater owners promising that "This is THE Garbo of your fondest memories -- of live, pulse-quickening memory -- This woman is of warm flesh and warmer blood -- of desire -- and the courage to life and love and adventure." But the movie proved too exotic for Depression era audiences and did not do well at the box office. Two decades later, Eleanor Parker took on the Garbo role in a remake entitled The Seventh Sin (1957).

Producer: Hunt Stromberg
Director: Richard Boleslawski
Screenplay: John Meehan, Salka Viertel, Edith Fitzgerald, from novel by W. Somerset Maugham
Cinematography: William H. Daniels
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons
Original Music: Herbert Stothart
Editing: Hugh Wynn
Costume Design: Adrian
Cast: Greta Garbo (Katrin Koerber Fane), Herbert Marshall (Dr. Walter Fane), George Brent (Jack Townsend), Warner Oland (General Yu), Jean Hersholt (Herr Koerber), Cecilia Parker (Olga Koerber).
BW-85m. Closed captioning.

by Roger Fristoe
The Painted Veil

The Painted Veil

The word "Garbo" is the first thing that appears on the screen during The Painted Veil (1934), and it remains as a background motif throughout the other credits. The idea for this came from Greta Garbo's agent, Harry Eddington, who wanted to place his famous client in the company of Eleonora Duse and Sarah Bernhardt -- actresses for whom only a surname was necessary. In this screen version of the Somerset Maugham novel, set in the mysterious Orient, Garbo plays a woman who commits adultery but redeems herself during a cholera epidemic. Garbo enjoyed both Herbert Marshall, who played her husband, and George Brent, who played her lover. Her biographer, Barry Paris, wrote that during filming she "was more sociable than usual, frequently lingering on the set to converse with Marshall, [or] share a laugh with Brent..."Marshall was impressed with her kindness, later recalling that during some rain-drenched crowd scenes Garbo "displayed keen concern for several elderly ladies in the mob, actresses who had been more important at another time." Garbo was intrigued by Brent, who was dubbed "the male edition of Garbo" by the Hollywood press because of his athleticism and love of solitude. The two formed a close friendship, visiting secluded restaurants and having quiet dinners at Brent's home -- where they sometimes boxed in the backyard! Rumors spread that they were having a torrid love affair. Brent reportedly told friends he was in love with Garbo and wanted to marry her. But Garbo entertained no such ideas, and Brent was completely out of her life within a couple of years. As The Painted Veil was released, MGM's publicity department sent a letter to theater owners promising that "This is THE Garbo of your fondest memories -- of live, pulse-quickening memory -- This woman is of warm flesh and warmer blood -- of desire -- and the courage to life and love and adventure." But the movie proved too exotic for Depression era audiences and did not do well at the box office. Two decades later, Eleanor Parker took on the Garbo role in a remake entitled The Seventh Sin (1957). Producer: Hunt Stromberg Director: Richard Boleslawski Screenplay: John Meehan, Salka Viertel, Edith Fitzgerald, from novel by W. Somerset Maugham Cinematography: William H. Daniels Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons Original Music: Herbert Stothart Editing: Hugh Wynn Costume Design: Adrian Cast: Greta Garbo (Katrin Koerber Fane), Herbert Marshall (Dr. Walter Fane), George Brent (Jack Townsend), Warner Oland (General Yu), Jean Hersholt (Herr Koerber), Cecilia Parker (Olga Koerber). BW-85m. Closed captioning. by Roger Fristoe

Quotes

Trivia

Because some preview reviewers felt the opening scenes were much too drawn out, the film was cut and some retakes were made.

Most contemporary reviewers list Beulah Bondi in the role of Frau Koerber, but Bodil Rosing is credited onscreen and is in the movie. She probably replaced Bondi in the retakes. Similarly, Billy Bevan was replaced by 'von Moorhart, Hans' .

Background shots in China supervised by George W. Hill was also used in Good Earth, The (1937).

Notes

Greta Garbo's name appears above the title as just "Garbo." Before Richard Boleslavsky (whose name is spelled Boleslawski in the onscreen credits) was hired as director, Victor Fleming and Rouben Mamoulian were considered for the job, according to Hollywood Reporter news items. Hollywood Reporter news items from June 1934 state that director George Hill shot footage in China for use in this film and in The Good Earth, a picture that M-G-M eventually produced and released in 1937. Two months after returning from China, Hill committed suicide. It is not known how much, if any, of Hill's footage was used in The Painted Veil. An August 1932 Hollywood Reporter news item announced Joan Crawford as the star of the picture. Preston Foster was announced as a cast member in July 1934 Hollywood Reporter news items, but soon was replaced by George Brent, whom the studio considered to be a more convincing Englishman than Foster. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, M-G-M built a replica of an ancient Chinese temple at their Culver City lot. After the film had its preview, the studio ordered re-takes and shortened the running time by several minutes, according to Motion Picture Herald. The beginning of the story, which some reviewers had criticized as being too drawn out, apparently was re-shot and shortened. Although most reviews list Beulah Bondi in the role of "Frau Koerber," Bodil Rosing actually appeared in the part in the final film and is given onscreen credit. It is possible that Rosing, whose character appears in the beginning of the story, replaced Bondi in the re-takes. Daily Variety gives the film's preview running time as 76 minutes, but this time is probably incorrect.
       According to files in the MPPA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, Harry Warner of Warner Bros. objected to the filming of W. Somerset Maugham's novel because he believed that members of the MPPDA had agreed years before that it was not suitable movie material. Will Hays, president of the MPPDA, responded to Warner's complaints by stating that, as only two members of the board had objected to the novel in the MPPDA's October 31, 1930 Resolution, the story was acceptable from a Code standpoint. Although Hollywood Reporter reported in 1947 that M-G-M was planning to remake Painted Veil with Greer Garson, the second M-G-M version of Maugham's novel was not produced until 1957, when Ronald Neame directed Eleanor Parker and George Sanders in The Seventh Sin. Another adaptation of Maugham's novel was released in 2006. That version, also entitled The Painted Veil, was directed by John Curran and starred Naomi Watts and Edward Norton.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1934

Released in United States 1934