Camille


1h 48m 1936
Camille

Brief Synopsis

In this classic 19th-century romance, a kept woman runs off with a young admirer in search of love and happiness.

Photos & Videos

Camille - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Camille (1937) - Movie Posters

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Drama
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Jan 1, 1936
Premiere Information
New York premiere: 12 Dec 1936
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Location
MGM Studios, California, USA
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel La Dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas, fils (Paris, 1848) and his play of the same name (Paris, 2 Feb 1852).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 48m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
12 reels

Synopsis

In mid-nineteenth century Paris, beautiful courtesan Marguerite Gautier, is known by all as "the lady of the camellias" because of her preference for the flowers. Marguerite's friends know her as a woman whose heart is bigger than her pocketbook. Though she is given money and jewels by her many admirers, her extravagance and generosity have kept her in debt. Marguerite's friend, Prudence Duvernoy, tells her to find a rich man who can take care of her debts and one night, arranges for her to meet the wealthy Baron de Varville. While Prudence leaves their theater box to find de Varville, handsome young Armand Duval, who has been in love with Marguerite and secretly followed her for weeks, goes to her. Because they have never met, she thinks that he is the baron and is immediately attracted to him. When she is introduced to the real Baron de Varville by Prudence, Marguerite is disappointed, but realizes that she must leave with him. Six months later, Marguerite has become de Varville's mistress and has indulged herself extravagantly with his money. When he goes on a business trip to Russia, her frail health will not allow her to accompany him, so she stays home. At a coach auction, she sees Armand again and is told by her maid, Nanine, that he came to inquire about Marguerite's health every day during her illness. Later, Marguerite invites him to a party at her home, and when she becomes ill, he carries her into her bedroom and tells her that he is deeply in love with her and wants to take care of her. She feels that he does not belong with people such as her friends and asks him to leave, but gives him her key and asks him to return later. Before Armand can return, however, the baron returns to see Marguerite one more time. Marguerite then has the door bolted, and Armand is unable to open the door. Despondent, Armand then goes to see his family and asks for money to travel. Monsieur Duval, a kind and loving father, agrees to give his son the money he wants, and Armand then writes a bitter note to Marguerite telling her that he is going away to forget her. After receiving the note, Marguerite goes to Armand's apartment. Seeing her, he again expresses his love and begs her to go to the country with him to regain her health. Marguerite accepts and leaves with him, telling no one where she is going. During the summer, they fall more deeply in love and are very happy until she learns that the adjoining property is the estate of the baron. After selling some jewelry to pay for the wedding of a young friend and give her a dowry, Marguerite and Armand dream of their own wedding, but Marguerite realizes that she will never have that happiness. Near the end of the summer, Armand writes to his father for money from his inheritance. When Monsieur Duval receives the letter, he becomes concerned and tries to find out what has happened. After learning about Marguerite, he goes to the country house and meets her one afternoon while Armand is out. Monsieur Duval soon realizes that Marguerite truly loves Armand, but convinces her that the relationship will only bring his son disgrace and unhappiness. When Armand comes back that evening, Marguerite is wearing a gown and tells him that she is going to go back to the baron, then leaves the cottage. The baron takes Marguerite back, but now on his own, less loving and generous terms. Back in Paris, she resumes the old life, but its rigors ruin her health. Soon she is so deeply in debt and ill that there is no hope for her recovery. With Nanine's help she writes to Armand, but before she can finish the letter, he comes to her. Seeing how ill she is, he promises to take her back to the country to regain her strength. She dies in his arms, knowing that she is as happy as she will ever be.

Photo Collections

Camille - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are several behind-the-scenes photos taken during the shooting of Camille (1937). Look for director George Cukor and stars Greta Garbo and Robert Taylor.
Camille (1937) - Movie Posters
Here are a few original release American movie posters from MGM's Camille (1937), starring Greta Garbo and Robert Taylor.

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Drama
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Jan 1, 1936
Premiere Information
New York premiere: 12 Dec 1936
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Location
MGM Studios, California, USA
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel La Dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas, fils (Paris, 1848) and his play of the same name (Paris, 2 Feb 1852).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 48m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
12 reels

Award Nominations

Best Actress

1937
Greta Garbo

Articles

The Essentials - Camille


SYNOPSIS

Marguerite Gautier (Greta Garbo) is a beautiful but jaded courtesan living in mid-nineteenth century Paris. Marguerite's decadent lifestyle leads her to seek the company of rich men, often against her better judgment. Her choices leave her purse full, but her heart empty. One night, however, she meets Armand Duval (Robert Taylor), who is handsome, charming and utterly bewitched by her. Unfortunately, Armand's meager fortune can't compare to her other suitors and she doesn't take him seriously. Gradually, however, Armand's sincerity wins her over and she decides to give up everything for true love. With her health quickly declining due to tuberculosis, Marguerite and Armand escape to the idyllic countryside for one beautiful summer together. However, interference from Armand's father (Lionel Barrymore) and Marguerite's bitter ex-lover (Henry Daniell) threatens to tear them apart.

Director: George Cukor
Writers: Zoe Akins, Frances Marion, James Hilton
Based on the Novel La Dame aux Camelias By: Alexandre Dumas, fils
Producer: David Lewis
Cinematography: William Daniels, Karl Freund
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons
Editing: Margaret Booth
Music Composer: Herbert Stothart
Sound: Douglas Shearer
Cast: Greta Garbo (Marguerite Gautier), Robert Taylor (Armand Duval), Lionel Barrymore (Monsieur Duval), Elizabeth Allan (Nichette), Jessie Ralph (Nanine), Henry Daniell (Baron de Varville), Lenore Ulric (Olympe), Laura Hope Crews (Prudence), Rex O'Malley (Gaston), Russell Hardie (Gustave).
BW-108m. Closed Captioning. Descriptive Video.

Why CAMILLE is Essential

More than 75 years after its release in 1936, Camille is still considered one of the great on-screen love stories of all time. With its beautiful and tragic story of romance between star-crossed lovers, Camille has endured through the generations, remaining timeless in its universal appeal.

The role of the doomed Marguerite in Camille is one of screen legend Greta Garbo's signature roles and it earned her an Academy Award nomination as Best Actress. The film showcases Garbo at the pinnacle of her career and beauty, and many believe it is the actress' best performance.

There have been numerous film versions of Alexandre Dumas, fils.' famed novel La Dame aux Camelias, but MGM's sumptuous 1936 production of Camille is considered the definitive and classic version of the story.

According to the New York Times in 1937, Camille, the original story and play from Alexandre Dumas, fils., is "less a play than an institution. Just as Hamlet is the measure of the great actor, so has the Dumas fils' classic become the ultimate test of the dramatic actress." Director George Cukor believed that Garbo met that acting challenge of playing Marguerite spot-on. "You have conquered every difficulty in re-creating this role," Cukor reportedly told Garbo. "No actress will ever surpass you."

Camille marked the first time that Greta Garbo and director George Cukor--two giants of the classic Hollywood cinema-- ever worked together. The film brought together two monumental talents, and the resulting classic that was born of that collaboration speaks for itself. Garbo and Cukor worked just one more time together on 1941's Two-Faced Woman, which was also Garbo's last film before she retired from making movies.

by Andrea Passafiume
The Essentials - Camille

The Essentials - Camille

SYNOPSIS Marguerite Gautier (Greta Garbo) is a beautiful but jaded courtesan living in mid-nineteenth century Paris. Marguerite's decadent lifestyle leads her to seek the company of rich men, often against her better judgment. Her choices leave her purse full, but her heart empty. One night, however, she meets Armand Duval (Robert Taylor), who is handsome, charming and utterly bewitched by her. Unfortunately, Armand's meager fortune can't compare to her other suitors and she doesn't take him seriously. Gradually, however, Armand's sincerity wins her over and she decides to give up everything for true love. With her health quickly declining due to tuberculosis, Marguerite and Armand escape to the idyllic countryside for one beautiful summer together. However, interference from Armand's father (Lionel Barrymore) and Marguerite's bitter ex-lover (Henry Daniell) threatens to tear them apart. Director: George Cukor Writers: Zoe Akins, Frances Marion, James Hilton Based on the Novel La Dame aux Camelias By: Alexandre Dumas, fils Producer: David Lewis Cinematography: William Daniels, Karl Freund Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons Editing: Margaret Booth Music Composer: Herbert Stothart Sound: Douglas Shearer Cast: Greta Garbo (Marguerite Gautier), Robert Taylor (Armand Duval), Lionel Barrymore (Monsieur Duval), Elizabeth Allan (Nichette), Jessie Ralph (Nanine), Henry Daniell (Baron de Varville), Lenore Ulric (Olympe), Laura Hope Crews (Prudence), Rex O'Malley (Gaston), Russell Hardie (Gustave). BW-108m. Closed Captioning. Descriptive Video. Why CAMILLE is Essential More than 75 years after its release in 1936, Camille is still considered one of the great on-screen love stories of all time. With its beautiful and tragic story of romance between star-crossed lovers, Camille has endured through the generations, remaining timeless in its universal appeal. The role of the doomed Marguerite in Camille is one of screen legend Greta Garbo's signature roles and it earned her an Academy Award nomination as Best Actress. The film showcases Garbo at the pinnacle of her career and beauty, and many believe it is the actress' best performance. There have been numerous film versions of Alexandre Dumas, fils.' famed novel La Dame aux Camelias, but MGM's sumptuous 1936 production of Camille is considered the definitive and classic version of the story. According to the New York Times in 1937, Camille, the original story and play from Alexandre Dumas, fils., is "less a play than an institution. Just as Hamlet is the measure of the great actor, so has the Dumas fils' classic become the ultimate test of the dramatic actress." Director George Cukor believed that Garbo met that acting challenge of playing Marguerite spot-on. "You have conquered every difficulty in re-creating this role," Cukor reportedly told Garbo. "No actress will ever surpass you." Camille marked the first time that Greta Garbo and director George Cukor--two giants of the classic Hollywood cinema-- ever worked together. The film brought together two monumental talents, and the resulting classic that was born of that collaboration speaks for itself. Garbo and Cukor worked just one more time together on 1941's Two-Faced Woman, which was also Garbo's last film before she retired from making movies. by Andrea Passafiume

Pop Culture 101 - Camille


In addition to numerous productions around the world, the stage play of Camille (aka La Dame aux Camelias) has had sixteen different productions on Broadway over the years. It first appeared on Broadway in 1853, and its most recent production was in 1935. Actresses that have played Marguerite on Broadway include Sarah Bernhardt and Lillian Gish.

The story of Camille has been filmed at least twenty times throughout numerous countries. The role of Marguerite has been played on screen by actresses including Sarah Bernhardt, Clara Kimball Young, Theda Bara, Norma Talmadge and Alla Nazimova in addition to Greta Garbo.

In 1981 a film called Lady of the Camelias told the real-life tale behind the story of Camille in which actress Isabelle Huppert portrays Marie Plessis, Alexandre Dumas, fils.' inspiration for Marguerite.

In director John Huston's big budget 1982 film version of the musical Annie, Daddy Warbucks takes Annie to Radio City Music Hall for a screening of Camille where scenes from the film are featured prominently.

In the 1921 silent film version of Camille legendary actor Rudolph Valentino portrays Marguerite's lover, Armand Duval.

Charles Ludlam, an actor and director who founded the Ridiculous Theatrical Company in New York in 1967, presented a loose adaptation of Camille in 1973 which was later revived in 1990 by his partner and successor Everett Quinton, who played the title character.

In 1984 Greta Scacchi and Colin Firth played doomed lovers Marguerite and Armand in a Hallmark Hall of Fame television production of Camille.

At least three ballets have been created from the story of Camille. La Dame aux Camelias premiered in 1978 featuring music by Frederic Chopin. Marguerite and Armand premiered in 1963, created for famed dancers Rudolf Nureyev and Dame Margot Fonteyn. In 1990 a version called Camille was created by Veronica Paeper.

Giuseppe Verdi's famous opera La Traviata was based on Camille's original source material La Dame aux Camelias. Its first performance took place in Venice in 1853.

Baz Luhrmann's 2001 film musical Moulin Rouge! is at least partly based on the original story of La Dame aux Camelias, which inspired the opera La Traviata that influenced Luhrmann's colorful and inventive film.

by Andrea Passafiume

Pop Culture 101 - Camille

In addition to numerous productions around the world, the stage play of Camille (aka La Dame aux Camelias) has had sixteen different productions on Broadway over the years. It first appeared on Broadway in 1853, and its most recent production was in 1935. Actresses that have played Marguerite on Broadway include Sarah Bernhardt and Lillian Gish. The story of Camille has been filmed at least twenty times throughout numerous countries. The role of Marguerite has been played on screen by actresses including Sarah Bernhardt, Clara Kimball Young, Theda Bara, Norma Talmadge and Alla Nazimova in addition to Greta Garbo. In 1981 a film called Lady of the Camelias told the real-life tale behind the story of Camille in which actress Isabelle Huppert portrays Marie Plessis, Alexandre Dumas, fils.' inspiration for Marguerite. In director John Huston's big budget 1982 film version of the musical Annie, Daddy Warbucks takes Annie to Radio City Music Hall for a screening of Camille where scenes from the film are featured prominently. In the 1921 silent film version of Camille legendary actor Rudolph Valentino portrays Marguerite's lover, Armand Duval. Charles Ludlam, an actor and director who founded the Ridiculous Theatrical Company in New York in 1967, presented a loose adaptation of Camille in 1973 which was later revived in 1990 by his partner and successor Everett Quinton, who played the title character. In 1984 Greta Scacchi and Colin Firth played doomed lovers Marguerite and Armand in a Hallmark Hall of Fame television production of Camille. At least three ballets have been created from the story of Camille. La Dame aux Camelias premiered in 1978 featuring music by Frederic Chopin. Marguerite and Armand premiered in 1963, created for famed dancers Rudolf Nureyev and Dame Margot Fonteyn. In 1990 a version called Camille was created by Veronica Paeper. Giuseppe Verdi's famous opera La Traviata was based on Camille's original source material La Dame aux Camelias. Its first performance took place in Venice in 1853. Baz Luhrmann's 2001 film musical Moulin Rouge! is at least partly based on the original story of La Dame aux Camelias, which inspired the opera La Traviata that influenced Luhrmann's colorful and inventive film. by Andrea Passafiume

Trivia - Camille - Trivia & Fun Facts About CAMILLE


Greta Garbo received her third Academy Award nomination as Best Actress for her fine work in Camille and was named Best Actress by the New York Film Critics Circle.

The role of villainous Baron de Varville, played by Henry Daniell, was originally intended for actor John Barrymore.

Before filming began on Camille Greta Garbo publicly called co-star Robert Taylor "a fine actor -- and handsome, too." Fifty years later she described him as "so beautiful -- and so dumb."

Famed fashion designer Adrian's costumes for Camille were reportedly inspired by Constantin Guys' drawings of Marie Duplessis, the real-life inspiration for the character of Marguerite.

According to Robert Taylor, Greta Garbo often wore an old pair of bedroom slippers under her expensive costumes while shooting in order to be more comfortable.

Garbo's elaborate costumes were so heavy and burdensome that the star was often close to fainting under the hot studio lights. To help, a special ice box wind machine was built in order to keep her cool.

Actor Lionel Barrymore, who played Armand's father, had a difficult time filming his role due to acute arthritis. "If there was ever anyone who made us suffer vicariously it was [Barrymore]," recalled screenwriter Frances Marion, "for every time we saw him hunched over in his wheelchair we felt his pain. Arthritis raced through his entire body in tormenting rivulets of fire."

According to Frances Marion, there was an audible gasp in the audience at the Academy Awards when Greta Garbo lost the Best Actress award to Luise Rainer (for The Good Earth, 1937) since everyone expected Garbo to win.

Memorable Quotes from CAMILLE

"Of course, I order too many flowers, hats and too many everything. But I want them."
-- Marguerite (Greta Garbo)

"Well, you know Prudence. She's a woman full of secrets. Even changing her corset is a great mystery."
--Marguerite, to Olympe (Lenore Ulric)

"The Baron de Varville is on his way to this box and I'm going to stay and meet him."
"But he's coming to meet me."
-- Olympe and Marguerite

"Unfortunately, I like him, too."
"Why unfortunately?"
"Because his eyes have made love to me all evening."
"That's a lie. He barely glanced at you. I never took my glasses from his face except for an instant to let him see mine."
"Perhaps that was the instant he smiled at me."
--Marguerite and Olympe

"I'll tell you something else. If you don't stop being so easygoing with your money, you'll land in the gutter before you're through or back on the farm where you came from milking cows and cleaning out henhouses."
"Cows and chickens make better friends than I've ever met in Paris."
--Olympe and Marguerite

"I'm not always sincere. One can't be in this world, you know."
-- Marguerite, to Armand (Robert Taylor)

"It's a great mistake for any woman to have a heart bigger than her purse."
--Prudence (Laura Hope Crews)

"I always look well when I'm near death."
--Marguerite

"Would you care to come to a party I'm giving tomorrow night? It's my birthday."
"Aren't you afraid you're not strong enough yet? To give parties?"
"Oh, I'm afraid of nothing except being bored."
--Marguerite and Armand

"What a child you are."
"Your hand is so hot."
"Is that why you put tears in it? To cool it?"
"I know I don't mean anything to you. I don't count. But someone ought to look after you. And I could do it, if you'd let me."
"Too much wine has made you sentimental."
--Marguerite and Armand

"No one has ever loved you as I love you."
"That may be true, but what can I do about it?"
--Armand and Marguerite

"You should go away and not see me anymore. But don't go away in anger. Why don't you laugh at yourself a little as I laugh at myself, and come and talk to me once in awhile in a friendly way?"
"That's too much...and not enough."
--Marguerite and Armand

"You play beautifully."
"You lie beautifully."
"Thank you. That's more than I deserve."
"It's not half as much as you deserve, my dear...[doorbell rings] I'll see who it is.
"No. I'll tell you. But you won't believe me."
"No, I won't. Who is it?"
"Well, I might say there is someone at the wrong door, or the great romance of my life."
--Marguerite and Baron de Varville (Henry Daniell)

"You know, once I had a little dog, and he always looked sad when I was sad, and I loved him so. And when your tears fell on my hand, I loved you too all at once."
--Marguerite, to Armand

"How can one change one's entire life and build a new one on one moment of love? And yet, that's what you make me want to close my eyes and do."
--Marguerite, to Armand

"Are you going to spoil a day like this by being jealous?"
--Marguerite, to Armand

"Never be jealous again. Never doubt that I love you more than the world. More than myself."
--Marguerite, to Armand

"Let me love you. Let me live for you. Don't let me ask any more from heaven than that. God might get angry."
--Marguerite, to Armand

"Of course, you don't think me worthy of your son. You're right, I'm not."
"No. No woman is worthy of a man's love who's willing to let him ruin himself for her, as you're doing.

"Without Armand, I'm doomed.
"With him, you're both doomed.
--Marguerite and Armand's Father (Lionel Barrymore)

"How could you do what you did? I'll tell you. Because your heart is a thing that can be bought and sold. Yes, I know, you gave it to me for a whole summer, but when it came to a choice, the jewels and carriages he could give you were worth more than my love, my devotion, my life."
"Yes, that's true. I'm a completely worthless woman, and no man should risk his life for me."
--Armand and Marguerite

"I doubled my fortune tonight at his expense. And when that's gone, I'll work, I'll beg, I'll borrow, I'll steal. But I must be with you always. Always."
--Armand, to Marguerite

"Nanine, get the doctor, quickly!"
"The doctor? If you can't make me live, how can he?"
--Armand and Marguerite

"No, no. Don't say such things, Marguerite. You'll live. You must live."
"Perhaps it's better if I live in your heart, where the world can't see me. If I'm dead, there'll be no stain on our love."
--Armand and Marguerite

Compiled by Andrea Passafiume

Trivia - Camille - Trivia & Fun Facts About CAMILLE

Greta Garbo received her third Academy Award nomination as Best Actress for her fine work in Camille and was named Best Actress by the New York Film Critics Circle. The role of villainous Baron de Varville, played by Henry Daniell, was originally intended for actor John Barrymore. Before filming began on Camille Greta Garbo publicly called co-star Robert Taylor "a fine actor -- and handsome, too." Fifty years later she described him as "so beautiful -- and so dumb." Famed fashion designer Adrian's costumes for Camille were reportedly inspired by Constantin Guys' drawings of Marie Duplessis, the real-life inspiration for the character of Marguerite. According to Robert Taylor, Greta Garbo often wore an old pair of bedroom slippers under her expensive costumes while shooting in order to be more comfortable. Garbo's elaborate costumes were so heavy and burdensome that the star was often close to fainting under the hot studio lights. To help, a special ice box wind machine was built in order to keep her cool. Actor Lionel Barrymore, who played Armand's father, had a difficult time filming his role due to acute arthritis. "If there was ever anyone who made us suffer vicariously it was [Barrymore]," recalled screenwriter Frances Marion, "for every time we saw him hunched over in his wheelchair we felt his pain. Arthritis raced through his entire body in tormenting rivulets of fire." According to Frances Marion, there was an audible gasp in the audience at the Academy Awards when Greta Garbo lost the Best Actress award to Luise Rainer (for The Good Earth, 1937) since everyone expected Garbo to win. Memorable Quotes from CAMILLE "Of course, I order too many flowers, hats and too many everything. But I want them." -- Marguerite (Greta Garbo) "Well, you know Prudence. She's a woman full of secrets. Even changing her corset is a great mystery." --Marguerite, to Olympe (Lenore Ulric) "The Baron de Varville is on his way to this box and I'm going to stay and meet him." "But he's coming to meet me." -- Olympe and Marguerite "Unfortunately, I like him, too." "Why unfortunately?" "Because his eyes have made love to me all evening." "That's a lie. He barely glanced at you. I never took my glasses from his face except for an instant to let him see mine." "Perhaps that was the instant he smiled at me." --Marguerite and Olympe "I'll tell you something else. If you don't stop being so easygoing with your money, you'll land in the gutter before you're through or back on the farm where you came from milking cows and cleaning out henhouses." "Cows and chickens make better friends than I've ever met in Paris." --Olympe and Marguerite "I'm not always sincere. One can't be in this world, you know." -- Marguerite, to Armand (Robert Taylor) "It's a great mistake for any woman to have a heart bigger than her purse." --Prudence (Laura Hope Crews) "I always look well when I'm near death." --Marguerite "Would you care to come to a party I'm giving tomorrow night? It's my birthday." "Aren't you afraid you're not strong enough yet? To give parties?" "Oh, I'm afraid of nothing except being bored." --Marguerite and Armand "What a child you are." "Your hand is so hot." "Is that why you put tears in it? To cool it?" "I know I don't mean anything to you. I don't count. But someone ought to look after you. And I could do it, if you'd let me." "Too much wine has made you sentimental." --Marguerite and Armand "No one has ever loved you as I love you." "That may be true, but what can I do about it?" --Armand and Marguerite "You should go away and not see me anymore. But don't go away in anger. Why don't you laugh at yourself a little as I laugh at myself, and come and talk to me once in awhile in a friendly way?" "That's too much...and not enough." --Marguerite and Armand "You play beautifully." "You lie beautifully." "Thank you. That's more than I deserve." "It's not half as much as you deserve, my dear...[doorbell rings] I'll see who it is. "No. I'll tell you. But you won't believe me." "No, I won't. Who is it?" "Well, I might say there is someone at the wrong door, or the great romance of my life." --Marguerite and Baron de Varville (Henry Daniell) "You know, once I had a little dog, and he always looked sad when I was sad, and I loved him so. And when your tears fell on my hand, I loved you too all at once." --Marguerite, to Armand "How can one change one's entire life and build a new one on one moment of love? And yet, that's what you make me want to close my eyes and do." --Marguerite, to Armand "Are you going to spoil a day like this by being jealous?" --Marguerite, to Armand "Never be jealous again. Never doubt that I love you more than the world. More than myself." --Marguerite, to Armand "Let me love you. Let me live for you. Don't let me ask any more from heaven than that. God might get angry." --Marguerite, to Armand "Of course, you don't think me worthy of your son. You're right, I'm not." "No. No woman is worthy of a man's love who's willing to let him ruin himself for her, as you're doing. "Without Armand, I'm doomed. "With him, you're both doomed. --Marguerite and Armand's Father (Lionel Barrymore) "How could you do what you did? I'll tell you. Because your heart is a thing that can be bought and sold. Yes, I know, you gave it to me for a whole summer, but when it came to a choice, the jewels and carriages he could give you were worth more than my love, my devotion, my life." "Yes, that's true. I'm a completely worthless woman, and no man should risk his life for me." --Armand and Marguerite "I doubled my fortune tonight at his expense. And when that's gone, I'll work, I'll beg, I'll borrow, I'll steal. But I must be with you always. Always." --Armand, to Marguerite "Nanine, get the doctor, quickly!" "The doctor? If you can't make me live, how can he?" --Armand and Marguerite "No, no. Don't say such things, Marguerite. You'll live. You must live." "Perhaps it's better if I live in your heart, where the world can't see me. If I'm dead, there'll be no stain on our love." --Armand and Marguerite Compiled by Andrea Passafiume

The Big Idea - Camille


In 1848 French writer Alexandre Dumas, fils. published the novel La Dame aux Camelias about the doomed romance between Marguerite, an ailing courtesan, and Armand, her devoted lover. In 1852, the novel was turned into a celebrated play on whose success Dumas made both his name and fortune. The fictional story was reportedly based on the author's own ill-fated love affair with famed Parisian courtesan Marie Duplessis who died of tuberculosis in 1844 at the age of 23. In English speaking countries, La Dame aux Camelias became loosely translated into the new title Camille.

During the silent era, the story of Camille was filmed several times, most famously in 1926 with actress Norma Talmadge in the title role. The sentimental love story was proving to be one of great endurance, tugging on the heartstrings of every new generation. In 1936, the most powerful studio in Hollywood, MGM, was ready to invest in a lavish big budget production of Camille with their highest paid star, Greta Garbo, in the lead.

Garbo was at the peak of her remarkable career as well as her unique beauty in 1936. MGM was actually planning to make two films with her that year -- Camille and Conquest, about the love story between Napoleon and Marie Walewska. Garbo's frequent director Clarence Brown would only be making one of them, and MGM subsequently gave George Cukor a chance to direct the other. He had a choice between the two projects. Cukor, who had already proven his mettle at the studio with such films as Dinner at Eight (1933), David Copperfield (1935) and Romeo and Juliet (1936), chose Camille. It would be the first time that he and Garbo worked together.

Even though the story of Camille had endured since 1848 and become a classic, in 1936 it was beginning to show some dust around the edges. George Cukor was faced with the challenge of making the dated melodrama relevant and appealing to modern audiences. "The play presented some enormous problems," said George Cukor according to the 2005 book Greta Garbo: A Cinematic Legacy by Mark A. Vieira, "because you had to make a modern audience understand its conventions. It came from a time when a woman's reputation, her virtue, was a terribly important thing and a big bonanza for drama." The trick would be in getting audiences to look past the period costumes and manners and still be moved by a love story that was timeless.

The first order of business for MGM's new production of Camille was to have a fresh screenplay adaptation written. Cukor brought in noted screenwriter Frances Marion, who was well versed in the story. She had penned the 1915 silent scenario starring Clara Kimball Young and also contributed to the 1926 silent version starring Norma Talmadge. Marion was also no stranger to working with Garbo, having written the screenplay for the Swedish silent star's first talking picture, Anna Christie (1930).

Frances Marion and colleague James Hilton pounded out a draft of the new screenplay. Eventually a third writer, Zoe Akins, was brought in to do a polish, and all three ended up being credited on the film.

Garbo was reportedly excited to tackle the role of Marguerite, although her legendary mystique and inscrutability often left George Cukor scratching his head over what she was really thinking. "I sensed that she was a little distrustful of me," said George Cukor. "Having her own very clear idea of how La Dame aux Camelias ought to be played on the screen, she was not unnaturally afraid that I, too, would have ideas on the subject, and that a clash would develop when we faced each other...on the studio stage."

Garbo also made an impression on Frances Marion, with whom she had worked several years before. "[Garbo] gave no impression of having aged, but she had lost that darkly brooding look in her eyes which was so unfathomable when she was young," said Marion in her 1972 autobiography Off With Their Heads!. "If you spoke to her, even a casual greeting, she gave you a look at once watchful and shrewd. Curiously, it was never a direct look, but seemed to bypass you and focus upon some distant object. This was Garbo's way of rejecting you; she did not want to be burdened with too many friends."

With such a larger than life star as Garbo, the biggest challenge was to find a male co-star who could hold his own opposite her. "There was more parleying about the selection of her leading man," said Frances Marion, "than electing a senator." Everyone wondered if Armand should be played by a European actor or an American. Eventually, George Cukor settled on Robert Taylor, who had almost been rejected for being "too handsome," according to Marion. Taylor was a fresh new face at the time, having been slowly groomed by MGM for stardom. After being loaned out to make Magnificent Obsession (1935) at Universal opposite Irene Dunne, Taylor was finally making a name for himself and ready to take on the daunting task of sharing the silver screen with MGM's top actress. He was admittedly intimidated and "scared to death," but he rose to the challenge of playing Armand.

"Armand is historically a terrible part," said Cukor. "It was usually played by middle-aged men. As a result he seemed stupid doing the things he did. When you get someone really young playing Armand, you understand him; he becomes appealing, with a kind of real youthful passion; whereas if he were thirty-eight years old, you'd think, 'Oh, you ass, why do you do that?' So that very crudity, that intensity of young passion made Robert Taylor an extremely good Armand."

With cameras set to roll in the late summer of 1936, MGM was ready to realize one of its most lavish productions. When MGM production head Irving Thalberg got a look at Greta Garbo together with Robert Taylor, he exclaimed with supreme confidence, "We can't miss with these two!"

by Andrea Passafiume

The Big Idea - Camille

In 1848 French writer Alexandre Dumas, fils. published the novel La Dame aux Camelias about the doomed romance between Marguerite, an ailing courtesan, and Armand, her devoted lover. In 1852, the novel was turned into a celebrated play on whose success Dumas made both his name and fortune. The fictional story was reportedly based on the author's own ill-fated love affair with famed Parisian courtesan Marie Duplessis who died of tuberculosis in 1844 at the age of 23. In English speaking countries, La Dame aux Camelias became loosely translated into the new title Camille. During the silent era, the story of Camille was filmed several times, most famously in 1926 with actress Norma Talmadge in the title role. The sentimental love story was proving to be one of great endurance, tugging on the heartstrings of every new generation. In 1936, the most powerful studio in Hollywood, MGM, was ready to invest in a lavish big budget production of Camille with their highest paid star, Greta Garbo, in the lead. Garbo was at the peak of her remarkable career as well as her unique beauty in 1936. MGM was actually planning to make two films with her that year -- Camille and Conquest, about the love story between Napoleon and Marie Walewska. Garbo's frequent director Clarence Brown would only be making one of them, and MGM subsequently gave George Cukor a chance to direct the other. He had a choice between the two projects. Cukor, who had already proven his mettle at the studio with such films as Dinner at Eight (1933), David Copperfield (1935) and Romeo and Juliet (1936), chose Camille. It would be the first time that he and Garbo worked together. Even though the story of Camille had endured since 1848 and become a classic, in 1936 it was beginning to show some dust around the edges. George Cukor was faced with the challenge of making the dated melodrama relevant and appealing to modern audiences. "The play presented some enormous problems," said George Cukor according to the 2005 book Greta Garbo: A Cinematic Legacy by Mark A. Vieira, "because you had to make a modern audience understand its conventions. It came from a time when a woman's reputation, her virtue, was a terribly important thing and a big bonanza for drama." The trick would be in getting audiences to look past the period costumes and manners and still be moved by a love story that was timeless. The first order of business for MGM's new production of Camille was to have a fresh screenplay adaptation written. Cukor brought in noted screenwriter Frances Marion, who was well versed in the story. She had penned the 1915 silent scenario starring Clara Kimball Young and also contributed to the 1926 silent version starring Norma Talmadge. Marion was also no stranger to working with Garbo, having written the screenplay for the Swedish silent star's first talking picture, Anna Christie (1930). Frances Marion and colleague James Hilton pounded out a draft of the new screenplay. Eventually a third writer, Zoe Akins, was brought in to do a polish, and all three ended up being credited on the film. Garbo was reportedly excited to tackle the role of Marguerite, although her legendary mystique and inscrutability often left George Cukor scratching his head over what she was really thinking. "I sensed that she was a little distrustful of me," said George Cukor. "Having her own very clear idea of how La Dame aux Camelias ought to be played on the screen, she was not unnaturally afraid that I, too, would have ideas on the subject, and that a clash would develop when we faced each other...on the studio stage." Garbo also made an impression on Frances Marion, with whom she had worked several years before. "[Garbo] gave no impression of having aged, but she had lost that darkly brooding look in her eyes which was so unfathomable when she was young," said Marion in her 1972 autobiography Off With Their Heads!. "If you spoke to her, even a casual greeting, she gave you a look at once watchful and shrewd. Curiously, it was never a direct look, but seemed to bypass you and focus upon some distant object. This was Garbo's way of rejecting you; she did not want to be burdened with too many friends." With such a larger than life star as Garbo, the biggest challenge was to find a male co-star who could hold his own opposite her. "There was more parleying about the selection of her leading man," said Frances Marion, "than electing a senator." Everyone wondered if Armand should be played by a European actor or an American. Eventually, George Cukor settled on Robert Taylor, who had almost been rejected for being "too handsome," according to Marion. Taylor was a fresh new face at the time, having been slowly groomed by MGM for stardom. After being loaned out to make Magnificent Obsession (1935) at Universal opposite Irene Dunne, Taylor was finally making a name for himself and ready to take on the daunting task of sharing the silver screen with MGM's top actress. He was admittedly intimidated and "scared to death," but he rose to the challenge of playing Armand. "Armand is historically a terrible part," said Cukor. "It was usually played by middle-aged men. As a result he seemed stupid doing the things he did. When you get someone really young playing Armand, you understand him; he becomes appealing, with a kind of real youthful passion; whereas if he were thirty-eight years old, you'd think, 'Oh, you ass, why do you do that?' So that very crudity, that intensity of young passion made Robert Taylor an extremely good Armand." With cameras set to roll in the late summer of 1936, MGM was ready to realize one of its most lavish productions. When MGM production head Irving Thalberg got a look at Greta Garbo together with Robert Taylor, he exclaimed with supreme confidence, "We can't miss with these two!" by Andrea Passafiume

Behind the Camera - Camille


Filming began on Camille during the late summer of 1936. From the very beginning of the production, there was a feeling in the air that the film would be something very special.

Greta Garbo gradually relaxed enough to be able to trust that her first experience being directed by George Cukor would be a good one. It helped that her longtime cinematographer William Daniels was also behind the camera. Daniels, known as "Garbo's Cameraman," was brilliant at his craft and seemed to know better than anyone how to best capture Garbo's luminescent beauty on film.

As was her nature, Garbo didn't like having a lot of people around the set, and she kept those who were there at arm's length. However, she did make an effort to put co-star Robert Taylor at ease, even if she wasn't exactly warm. It was all part of her method. "Garbo didn't talk much to Robert Taylor," remembered George Cukor. "She was polite but distant. She had to tell herself that he was the ideal young man, and she knew if they became friendly she'd learn he was just another nice kid."

Garbo's approach to playing Marguerite was different from her predecessors. Her natural instincts and choices were a testament both to her talent and the skilled contributions of screenwriter Zoe Akins, to whom George Cukor gave much credit. "[Akins] managed to create a whole language, a kind of argot for the story," said Cukor. "She wrote one very good scene of a party at Marguerite's house. All these tarts were sitting around, and Zoe had the idea they told rather coarse jokes in front of each other and Armand was shocked by it. In the middle of all these tarts being so raucous and common, Marguerite has a coughing spell. It was the only time she really coughed in the film. Most of the time she suggested her tuberculosis by little dry clearings of the throat and touching her mouth. Most ladies cough and splutter their way through this part...What Garbo did in that scene was she suddenly lost her breath and went into the other room. Armand comes in and he's revolted by the coarseness he's just heard, and I'll never forget how beautifully Garbo played the next moment. She has a line that Zoe Akins wrote -- 'Oh, I'm just a girl like all the rest' -- as if to warn him not to put her on a pedestal and sentimentalize her."

Many people found Garbo's process as an actress inscrutable, though no one questioned it because the results spoke for themselves. Her habit was to work out a performance ahead of time in private as much as possible. Too many eyes on her in front of the camera made her uneasy. As Cukor once explained, "[Garbo] said that when she was acting she had some sort of an ideal picture in her mind -- something she was creating -- and she never saw the rushes because she was always disappointed in what she saw. But she said while she was acting she could imagine certain things and if she saw people just off the set staring at her, she felt like an ass, like somebody with a lot of paint on her face making faces. It stopped her imagination."

Sometimes Garbo's choices while making Camille surprised Cukor. For instance: the scene early on in which Marguerite kisses Armand all over his face. It was an undirected action Garbo took that Cukor called "memorable" and "erotic." At other times, Cukor was able to use his own directing instincts to use Garbo's natural aloofness to the film's advantage, such as during the scene at the beginning of the film when Marguerite goes to the theater. "I wanted to show that Marguerite was a public woman, that she went to the theater to be seen," explained Cukor. "She had to walk through a crowded lobby of men...I wanted her to walk through to show herself, as if on parade for clients. At first Garbo walked through rather quickly, as if she didn't want to be seen. I might have said, 'Walk through a little more brazenly, a little more slowly,' but I didn't. I realized she was right. She could slip through, and you knew damn well the men would look at her anyway."

Even though Garbo liked Cukor, he did have one behavior on the set that annoyed her. He had the habit of sitting behind the camera during a scene and mouthing the words along with the actors, sometimes making hand and facial gestures as well. Garbo didn't waste any time telling him that she found it extremely distracting and asked him to stop. Nevertheless, she and Cukor worked remarkably well together, and over the course of filming they developed a deep respect for each other.

When MGM production head Irving Thalberg saw the rushes, he could barely contain his enthusiasm. He was sure that Camille would be a great success and had nothing but praise for his leading actress. "I think we have caught Garbo as she should be caught," said Thalberg. "She will be the most memorable Camille of our time."

In the middle of production, however, Thalberg, who had always suffered from congenital health problems, suddenly died of a heart attack at age 37. Thalberg had been a much beloved figure at the studio who had overseen some of MGM's greatest triumphs. His death sent a wave of shock and grief throughout the studio and left some productions in precarious question. A short time later, however, production did resume on Camille, though hearts were heavy.

Thalberg's death came on the heels of George Cukor losing his own mother earlier during production, and the sense of grief was palpable. The loss inevitably hovered over the remaining time on Camille, especially while Garbo filmed Marguerite's famous death scene. The emotions that everyone brought to the moment helped make the scene memorable and deeply moving.

by Andrea Passafiume

Behind the Camera - Camille

Filming began on Camille during the late summer of 1936. From the very beginning of the production, there was a feeling in the air that the film would be something very special. Greta Garbo gradually relaxed enough to be able to trust that her first experience being directed by George Cukor would be a good one. It helped that her longtime cinematographer William Daniels was also behind the camera. Daniels, known as "Garbo's Cameraman," was brilliant at his craft and seemed to know better than anyone how to best capture Garbo's luminescent beauty on film. As was her nature, Garbo didn't like having a lot of people around the set, and she kept those who were there at arm's length. However, she did make an effort to put co-star Robert Taylor at ease, even if she wasn't exactly warm. It was all part of her method. "Garbo didn't talk much to Robert Taylor," remembered George Cukor. "She was polite but distant. She had to tell herself that he was the ideal young man, and she knew if they became friendly she'd learn he was just another nice kid." Garbo's approach to playing Marguerite was different from her predecessors. Her natural instincts and choices were a testament both to her talent and the skilled contributions of screenwriter Zoe Akins, to whom George Cukor gave much credit. "[Akins] managed to create a whole language, a kind of argot for the story," said Cukor. "She wrote one very good scene of a party at Marguerite's house. All these tarts were sitting around, and Zoe had the idea they told rather coarse jokes in front of each other and Armand was shocked by it. In the middle of all these tarts being so raucous and common, Marguerite has a coughing spell. It was the only time she really coughed in the film. Most of the time she suggested her tuberculosis by little dry clearings of the throat and touching her mouth. Most ladies cough and splutter their way through this part...What Garbo did in that scene was she suddenly lost her breath and went into the other room. Armand comes in and he's revolted by the coarseness he's just heard, and I'll never forget how beautifully Garbo played the next moment. She has a line that Zoe Akins wrote -- 'Oh, I'm just a girl like all the rest' -- as if to warn him not to put her on a pedestal and sentimentalize her." Many people found Garbo's process as an actress inscrutable, though no one questioned it because the results spoke for themselves. Her habit was to work out a performance ahead of time in private as much as possible. Too many eyes on her in front of the camera made her uneasy. As Cukor once explained, "[Garbo] said that when she was acting she had some sort of an ideal picture in her mind -- something she was creating -- and she never saw the rushes because she was always disappointed in what she saw. But she said while she was acting she could imagine certain things and if she saw people just off the set staring at her, she felt like an ass, like somebody with a lot of paint on her face making faces. It stopped her imagination." Sometimes Garbo's choices while making Camille surprised Cukor. For instance: the scene early on in which Marguerite kisses Armand all over his face. It was an undirected action Garbo took that Cukor called "memorable" and "erotic." At other times, Cukor was able to use his own directing instincts to use Garbo's natural aloofness to the film's advantage, such as during the scene at the beginning of the film when Marguerite goes to the theater. "I wanted to show that Marguerite was a public woman, that she went to the theater to be seen," explained Cukor. "She had to walk through a crowded lobby of men...I wanted her to walk through to show herself, as if on parade for clients. At first Garbo walked through rather quickly, as if she didn't want to be seen. I might have said, 'Walk through a little more brazenly, a little more slowly,' but I didn't. I realized she was right. She could slip through, and you knew damn well the men would look at her anyway." Even though Garbo liked Cukor, he did have one behavior on the set that annoyed her. He had the habit of sitting behind the camera during a scene and mouthing the words along with the actors, sometimes making hand and facial gestures as well. Garbo didn't waste any time telling him that she found it extremely distracting and asked him to stop. Nevertheless, she and Cukor worked remarkably well together, and over the course of filming they developed a deep respect for each other. When MGM production head Irving Thalberg saw the rushes, he could barely contain his enthusiasm. He was sure that Camille would be a great success and had nothing but praise for his leading actress. "I think we have caught Garbo as she should be caught," said Thalberg. "She will be the most memorable Camille of our time." In the middle of production, however, Thalberg, who had always suffered from congenital health problems, suddenly died of a heart attack at age 37. Thalberg had been a much beloved figure at the studio who had overseen some of MGM's greatest triumphs. His death sent a wave of shock and grief throughout the studio and left some productions in precarious question. A short time later, however, production did resume on Camille, though hearts were heavy. Thalberg's death came on the heels of George Cukor losing his own mother earlier during production, and the sense of grief was palpable. The loss inevitably hovered over the remaining time on Camille, especially while Garbo filmed Marguerite's famous death scene. The emotions that everyone brought to the moment helped make the scene memorable and deeply moving. by Andrea Passafiume

Camille (1936) - Camille


Camille (1937) is one of the screen's most timeless romantic tearjerkers of Hollywood's Golden Age. Swedish screen legend Greta Garbo stars as Marguerite, a courtesan of ill repute in 19th century Paris, who falls in love with the young French nobleman Armand (Robert Taylor). Happiness is elusive for the couple, however, due to the meddling of friends and family and Marguerite's rapidly failing health. As Camille, Garbo gives what many consider to be her greatest performance, and handsome romantic lead Taylor, once billed "the man with the perfect profile," sent female hearts aflutter upon the film's release.

MGM, led by production supervisor Irving Thalberg, wanted a fresh, sensual version of Camille, which had already been filmed several times during the silent era with such stars as Theda Bara and Rudolph Valentino. The famed George Cukor, whose credits include numerous screen classics like Dinner at Eight (1933), The Philadelphia Story (1940) and My Fair Lady (1964), was set to direct. It marked the first time he worked with Garbo (he would later direct her again in the 1941 comedy Two-Faced Woman). Though the two eventually became friends, Cukor initially didn't take to Garbo; he found her dour and depressing to be around. He was impressed with Garbo's acting abilities, however, and loved her performance in Camille. Her insecurities led to her usual practice of barring everyone who wasn't absolutely essential to the scene at hand from the set while she was performing, but Cukor understood that this was all part of her unique craft. According to him, she was always fresh and creative and worked extremely hard to get each scene exactly right. "She managed to create a whole language," he said, "a kind of argot for the story."

Cukor was also quick to give credit to screenwriter Zoe Akins. Akins and two others, Frances Marion and James Hilton, received screen credit for the script, but Cukor claimed that the final draft was all the work of Akins. The adaptation was based on the Alexandre Dumas novel La Dame aux Camelias which was later turned into a play and eventually the famous Verdi opera La Traviata. Dumas apparently based his original story on an actual woman - an acquaintance of his in Paris named Marie Alphonsine du Plessis who died at age 24 of tuberculosis.

Robert Taylor was considered an asset to Camille not just because of his good looks and earnest portrayal of Marguerite's suitor Armand, but also because of his youthful age of 25. According to George Cukor, Armand was a "notoriously bad part for an actor, and it's often played by men in their forties and doesn't make sense. But because Taylor was young, it came alive." Taylor had initially received much attention in Hollywood for his looks, but his talent evolved as he continuously worked hard to do justice to his roles. Of Taylor, Greta Garbo always spoke fondly. She was touched when he sent her mother a dozen beautiful orchids when he was in Stockholm for the premiere of Camille there. She also recalled his willingness to stay out of the sun during the shoot, even though he was a sun worshipper, in order to match Garbo's paler complexion.

For Marguerite's inevitable death scene at the end of the movie, there were two different versions shot. In one, Garbo delivered a long dramatic speech before she succumbs to her illness. In the other, she was mostly silent, allowing the emotion to come primarily from her face and body. George Cukor said that both versions were good, but in the end he and Garbo felt that it was too unrealistic to have a dying woman talk so much. They settled on the second one, which still has the power to move audiences to tears. For Garbo, playing her most famous role was an indelible experience. "My involvement in Marguerite was so complete," she said, "that I was unable to maintain emotional contact with people whom I met during work on this film." Her commitment to the role paid off when she won a Best Actress Academy Award® nomination for her work - the only nomination for Camille. She lost, however, to Luise Rainer in The Good Earth.

The tragic love story of Camille was an immediate hit with audiences and critics alike, who showered it with such adjectives as "brilliant," "eloquent" and "incomparable." Producer Irving Thalberg didn't live to see the success of his last project for MGM - he died September 14, 1936, three months before the end of production at the age of 37. After the film's success, MGM raised Garbo's already substantial salary, and the King of Sweden bestowed their Litteris et Artibus award on the actress. The beauty and romance of Camille have endured through the years, making it one of the silver screen's great classics.

Producer: Bernard H. Hyman, David Lewis
Director: George Cukor
Screenplay: Zoe Akins, Alexandre Dumas, James Hilton, Frances Marion
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Fredric Hope, Edwin B. Willis
Cinematography: William H. Daniels, Karl Freund
Costume Design: Adrian
Film Editing: Margaret Booth
Original Music: Herbert Stothart, Edward Ward
Principal Cast: Greta Garbo (Marguerite Gautier), Robert Taylor (Armand Duval), Lionel Barrymore (Monsieur Duval), Elizabeth Allan (Nichette), Jessie Ralph (Nanine), Henry Daniell (Baron de Varville), Laura Hope Crews (Prudence Duvernoy).
BW-108m. Closed captioning. Descriptive video.

by Andrea Foshee

Camille (1936) - Camille

Camille (1937) is one of the screen's most timeless romantic tearjerkers of Hollywood's Golden Age. Swedish screen legend Greta Garbo stars as Marguerite, a courtesan of ill repute in 19th century Paris, who falls in love with the young French nobleman Armand (Robert Taylor). Happiness is elusive for the couple, however, due to the meddling of friends and family and Marguerite's rapidly failing health. As Camille, Garbo gives what many consider to be her greatest performance, and handsome romantic lead Taylor, once billed "the man with the perfect profile," sent female hearts aflutter upon the film's release. MGM, led by production supervisor Irving Thalberg, wanted a fresh, sensual version of Camille, which had already been filmed several times during the silent era with such stars as Theda Bara and Rudolph Valentino. The famed George Cukor, whose credits include numerous screen classics like Dinner at Eight (1933), The Philadelphia Story (1940) and My Fair Lady (1964), was set to direct. It marked the first time he worked with Garbo (he would later direct her again in the 1941 comedy Two-Faced Woman). Though the two eventually became friends, Cukor initially didn't take to Garbo; he found her dour and depressing to be around. He was impressed with Garbo's acting abilities, however, and loved her performance in Camille. Her insecurities led to her usual practice of barring everyone who wasn't absolutely essential to the scene at hand from the set while she was performing, but Cukor understood that this was all part of her unique craft. According to him, she was always fresh and creative and worked extremely hard to get each scene exactly right. "She managed to create a whole language," he said, "a kind of argot for the story." Cukor was also quick to give credit to screenwriter Zoe Akins. Akins and two others, Frances Marion and James Hilton, received screen credit for the script, but Cukor claimed that the final draft was all the work of Akins. The adaptation was based on the Alexandre Dumas novel La Dame aux Camelias which was later turned into a play and eventually the famous Verdi opera La Traviata. Dumas apparently based his original story on an actual woman - an acquaintance of his in Paris named Marie Alphonsine du Plessis who died at age 24 of tuberculosis. Robert Taylor was considered an asset to Camille not just because of his good looks and earnest portrayal of Marguerite's suitor Armand, but also because of his youthful age of 25. According to George Cukor, Armand was a "notoriously bad part for an actor, and it's often played by men in their forties and doesn't make sense. But because Taylor was young, it came alive." Taylor had initially received much attention in Hollywood for his looks, but his talent evolved as he continuously worked hard to do justice to his roles. Of Taylor, Greta Garbo always spoke fondly. She was touched when he sent her mother a dozen beautiful orchids when he was in Stockholm for the premiere of Camille there. She also recalled his willingness to stay out of the sun during the shoot, even though he was a sun worshipper, in order to match Garbo's paler complexion. For Marguerite's inevitable death scene at the end of the movie, there were two different versions shot. In one, Garbo delivered a long dramatic speech before she succumbs to her illness. In the other, she was mostly silent, allowing the emotion to come primarily from her face and body. George Cukor said that both versions were good, but in the end he and Garbo felt that it was too unrealistic to have a dying woman talk so much. They settled on the second one, which still has the power to move audiences to tears. For Garbo, playing her most famous role was an indelible experience. "My involvement in Marguerite was so complete," she said, "that I was unable to maintain emotional contact with people whom I met during work on this film." Her commitment to the role paid off when she won a Best Actress Academy Award® nomination for her work - the only nomination for Camille. She lost, however, to Luise Rainer in The Good Earth. The tragic love story of Camille was an immediate hit with audiences and critics alike, who showered it with such adjectives as "brilliant," "eloquent" and "incomparable." Producer Irving Thalberg didn't live to see the success of his last project for MGM - he died September 14, 1936, three months before the end of production at the age of 37. After the film's success, MGM raised Garbo's already substantial salary, and the King of Sweden bestowed their Litteris et Artibus award on the actress. The beauty and romance of Camille have endured through the years, making it one of the silver screen's great classics. Producer: Bernard H. Hyman, David Lewis Director: George Cukor Screenplay: Zoe Akins, Alexandre Dumas, James Hilton, Frances Marion Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Fredric Hope, Edwin B. Willis Cinematography: William H. Daniels, Karl Freund Costume Design: Adrian Film Editing: Margaret Booth Original Music: Herbert Stothart, Edward Ward Principal Cast: Greta Garbo (Marguerite Gautier), Robert Taylor (Armand Duval), Lionel Barrymore (Monsieur Duval), Elizabeth Allan (Nichette), Jessie Ralph (Nanine), Henry Daniell (Baron de Varville), Laura Hope Crews (Prudence Duvernoy). BW-108m. Closed captioning. Descriptive video. by Andrea Foshee

The Critics' Corner - Camille


AWARDS AND HONORS

Greta Garbo was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actress for her performance as Marguerite in Camille. It was her third Academy Award nomination.

Garbo won the Best Actress Award from the New York Film Critics Circle.

Camille was included in Time magazine's list of the top "All-Time 100 Movies". Critic Richard Corliss said, "In this romance of selfless renunciation and the nobility of the call-girl class, Garbo's achievement may strike younger viewers as odd, silly, for she is performing in a gestural language utterly remote from today's. Yet it is an elegant, eloquent tongue, and no one 'spoke' it as brilliantly as Garbo did in this great and grand soap opera."

In 2002 the American Film Institute ranked Camille number 33 on its list of the best romantic films of all time, "100 Years...100 Passions."

In 2007 Time magazine named Camille one of the "Top 10 Romantic Movies" of all time. Critic Richard Corliss said, "For me, this is where a weepy story and a great, daring actress feed each other to create sublime and devastating art."

THE CRITIC'S CORNER - CAMILLE

"Greta Garbo's performance in the new Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer version...is in the finest tradition: eloquent, tragic, yet restrained. She is as incomparable in the role as legend tells us that Bernhardt was. Through the perfect artistry of her portrayal, a hackneyed theme is made new again, poignantly sad, hauntingly lovely. George Cukor...has retained the full flavor of the period...without drenching his film with the cloying scent of a hothouse. Camille under his benign handling and the understanding adaptation by Zoe Akins, Frances Marion, and James Hilton, is not the reverentially treated museum piece we half expected to see. Its speech has been modernized, but not jarringly; its characters, beneath the frill and ruffles of the fifties, have the contemporary point of view; its tragedy is still compelling, for the Lady of the Camellias must eternally be a tragic figure." -- The New York Times

"George Cukor directs this famous play...with rare skill. Interior settings, costumes and exteriors are lavish and beautiful. The film shows the great care which went into its preparation and making. Robert Taylor plays with surprising assurance and ease. He never seems to be striving for a point...Garbo's impersonation of Marguerite Gautier is one of her best portraits...The two principals play the love scenes for full worth...Of the support players, Henry Daniell, as Baron de Varville, turns in a performance of unusual interest...Daniell is suave and properly elegant without being too obvious." -- Variety

"Beautiful MGM production; in one of her most famous roles, Garbo is Dumas' tragic heroine who must sacrifice her own happiness in order to prove her love. Taylor is a bit stiff as Armand, but Daniell is a superb villain." -- Leonard Maltin's Movie and Video Guide

"If Greta Garbo is not Hollywood's greatest dramatic actress in her greatest dramatic role then I have been bewitched." -- The Los Angeles Herald-Express

"MGM's high camp 'funereal' decor, the judicious adaptation of Dumas' play, Cukor's gay sensibility in directing women, and William Daniels' atmospheric photography - all these made Camille Garbo's most popular film. Her aura of self-knowledge, inner calm and strength of purpose intermeshed finely with elements of the production to produce a tragedy of love-as-renunciation which was closer in spirit to Hedda Gabler than to Dumas." - TimeOut

Compiled by Andrea Passafiume

The Critics' Corner - Camille

AWARDS AND HONORS Greta Garbo was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actress for her performance as Marguerite in Camille. It was her third Academy Award nomination. Garbo won the Best Actress Award from the New York Film Critics Circle. Camille was included in Time magazine's list of the top "All-Time 100 Movies". Critic Richard Corliss said, "In this romance of selfless renunciation and the nobility of the call-girl class, Garbo's achievement may strike younger viewers as odd, silly, for she is performing in a gestural language utterly remote from today's. Yet it is an elegant, eloquent tongue, and no one 'spoke' it as brilliantly as Garbo did in this great and grand soap opera." In 2002 the American Film Institute ranked Camille number 33 on its list of the best romantic films of all time, "100 Years...100 Passions." In 2007 Time magazine named Camille one of the "Top 10 Romantic Movies" of all time. Critic Richard Corliss said, "For me, this is where a weepy story and a great, daring actress feed each other to create sublime and devastating art." THE CRITIC'S CORNER - CAMILLE "Greta Garbo's performance in the new Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer version...is in the finest tradition: eloquent, tragic, yet restrained. She is as incomparable in the role as legend tells us that Bernhardt was. Through the perfect artistry of her portrayal, a hackneyed theme is made new again, poignantly sad, hauntingly lovely. George Cukor...has retained the full flavor of the period...without drenching his film with the cloying scent of a hothouse. Camille under his benign handling and the understanding adaptation by Zoe Akins, Frances Marion, and James Hilton, is not the reverentially treated museum piece we half expected to see. Its speech has been modernized, but not jarringly; its characters, beneath the frill and ruffles of the fifties, have the contemporary point of view; its tragedy is still compelling, for the Lady of the Camellias must eternally be a tragic figure." -- The New York Times "George Cukor directs this famous play...with rare skill. Interior settings, costumes and exteriors are lavish and beautiful. The film shows the great care which went into its preparation and making. Robert Taylor plays with surprising assurance and ease. He never seems to be striving for a point...Garbo's impersonation of Marguerite Gautier is one of her best portraits...The two principals play the love scenes for full worth...Of the support players, Henry Daniell, as Baron de Varville, turns in a performance of unusual interest...Daniell is suave and properly elegant without being too obvious." -- Variety "Beautiful MGM production; in one of her most famous roles, Garbo is Dumas' tragic heroine who must sacrifice her own happiness in order to prove her love. Taylor is a bit stiff as Armand, but Daniell is a superb villain." -- Leonard Maltin's Movie and Video Guide "If Greta Garbo is not Hollywood's greatest dramatic actress in her greatest dramatic role then I have been bewitched." -- The Los Angeles Herald-Express "MGM's high camp 'funereal' decor, the judicious adaptation of Dumas' play, Cukor's gay sensibility in directing women, and William Daniels' atmospheric photography - all these made Camille Garbo's most popular film. Her aura of self-knowledge, inner calm and strength of purpose intermeshed finely with elements of the production to produce a tragedy of love-as-renunciation which was closer in spirit to Hedda Gabler than to Dumas." - TimeOut Compiled by Andrea Passafiume

Greta Garbo in Camille


Greta Garbo's effort in director George Cukor's adaptation of the Dumas fils tragedy Camille is pretty well recognized as her signature performance, presenting as it does the definitive foredoomed heroine whose cynical veneer is eroded by the discovery of true love. The inscrutable star received an Oscar® nomination for her superbly calibrated work, and Warner Home Video has now brought the film to its long-awaited release on DVD, available singly as well as packaged with nine other memorable Garbo turns in Garbo: The Signature Collection.

The film opens in the Paris of 1847, where Marguerite Gautier (Garbo), a onetime shopgirl who has used her charm and beauty to live well above her means by providing companionship to wealthy rakes, is now desirous of an arrangement that will cover her for life. Her dressmaker confidant Prudence (Laura Hope Crews) finagles a "chance" encounter with the estimable Baron de Varville (Henry Daniell). However, she winds up making a mistaken flirtation with Armand Duval (Robert Taylor), a handsome young law student who has long harbored an infatuation with her from a distance. Once she does connect with the Baron, though, Armand's flattering attentions are quickly forgotten.

The young Duval is persistent, however, and his determination, as well as his concern (alone amongst her social circle) about her recurring bouts with consumption, ultimately move the flighty courtesan. Marguerite breaks off her relationship with the Baron and accepts Armand's invitation to a healthful summer at his family's country estate. Their idyll together is cruelly ended when Armand's father (Lionel Barrymore) confronts her alone, adamant that his son will have no future in society as long as he is linked to a demimonde. After tearfully conceding the elder Duval's point, Marguerite delivers Armand the crushing news that she's returning to de Varville.

When the parties meet again at a the opening of a gambling club, the embittered Armand takes de Varville for a fortune, and delivers a humiliating public repudiation to Marguerite, throwing his winnings in her face. He then takes the baron up on his demand for a duel, and flees the country after wounding him. Returning months later, he learns that Marguerite is alone and succumbing to her illness, and resolves to beg her forgiveness before it's too late.

Rendered with all the considerable opulence that MGM could muster, Camille was a worthy vehicle for its star's considerable ability. As the kept and calculating party girl who finally discovers genuine romance and genuine heartbreak, Garbo moves through every phase with delicate nuance. While critics over the years have felt compelled to take potshots at Taylor for his efforts here, the role of Armand only required that he be convincingly both good-looking and good-hearted, and he succeeded on each count. Of the supporting performances, special note has to be given to the terrific screen villain Daniell, who in the role of the callous and officious Baron received an ideal showcase for his patented brand of reptilian cruelty.

The mastering job on the DVD of Camille is crisp, and presented in the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, and the Dolby 1.0 Mono audio is extremely clean. Warner chose to provide Camille with a most significant add-on, that being MGM's 1921 silent take on the story, with the title role going to the legendary Broadway diva Alla Nazimova. The Russian émigré's repute as a stage performer granted her an unprecedented amount of clout during her comparatively brief run as a Hollywood lead through the teens and '20s, and she made the calls as to script and production. That's very much in evidence in this final effort from her stint at MGM, right down to the insistence that the role of Armand go to a relative unknown named Rudolph Valentino.

Valentino's star-making performance in The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse (1920) had yet to open at the time Camille was lensed, and his natural efforts here helped cement his growing reputation. Camille is his only project in which all three of the women most tied to his meteoric career participated. Like Nazimova, screenwriter June Mathis was an avid early patron, and it was on this set that he met his notorious second wife, art director Natacha Rambova. Rambova's audacious art deco set design for Nazimova's modern-dress spin on the Dumas tale remains one of the primary points of interest in the film today.

Less so can be said for the on-screen efforts of Nazimova herself, which come across as rather florid and overwrought. The actress was in her early forties when Camille was made, and to the contemporary eye, the abrupt shifts to soft-focus for her close-ups borders on the comical. Much has been noted of her choice to have Armand written out of the death scene, and speculation abounds that fear of being upstaged by Valentino was the motivating factor. The film is effectively complemented by the newly-commissioned musical score from Peter Vantine. Rounding out the extras are the theatrical trailer and an audio track featuring one MGM's "Leo is On the Air" radio promotions of the era.

For more information about Camille, visit Warner Video. To order Camille, go to TCM Shopping.

by Jay S. Steinberg

Greta Garbo in Camille

Greta Garbo's effort in director George Cukor's adaptation of the Dumas fils tragedy Camille is pretty well recognized as her signature performance, presenting as it does the definitive foredoomed heroine whose cynical veneer is eroded by the discovery of true love. The inscrutable star received an Oscar® nomination for her superbly calibrated work, and Warner Home Video has now brought the film to its long-awaited release on DVD, available singly as well as packaged with nine other memorable Garbo turns in Garbo: The Signature Collection. The film opens in the Paris of 1847, where Marguerite Gautier (Garbo), a onetime shopgirl who has used her charm and beauty to live well above her means by providing companionship to wealthy rakes, is now desirous of an arrangement that will cover her for life. Her dressmaker confidant Prudence (Laura Hope Crews) finagles a "chance" encounter with the estimable Baron de Varville (Henry Daniell). However, she winds up making a mistaken flirtation with Armand Duval (Robert Taylor), a handsome young law student who has long harbored an infatuation with her from a distance. Once she does connect with the Baron, though, Armand's flattering attentions are quickly forgotten. The young Duval is persistent, however, and his determination, as well as his concern (alone amongst her social circle) about her recurring bouts with consumption, ultimately move the flighty courtesan. Marguerite breaks off her relationship with the Baron and accepts Armand's invitation to a healthful summer at his family's country estate. Their idyll together is cruelly ended when Armand's father (Lionel Barrymore) confronts her alone, adamant that his son will have no future in society as long as he is linked to a demimonde. After tearfully conceding the elder Duval's point, Marguerite delivers Armand the crushing news that she's returning to de Varville. When the parties meet again at a the opening of a gambling club, the embittered Armand takes de Varville for a fortune, and delivers a humiliating public repudiation to Marguerite, throwing his winnings in her face. He then takes the baron up on his demand for a duel, and flees the country after wounding him. Returning months later, he learns that Marguerite is alone and succumbing to her illness, and resolves to beg her forgiveness before it's too late. Rendered with all the considerable opulence that MGM could muster, Camille was a worthy vehicle for its star's considerable ability. As the kept and calculating party girl who finally discovers genuine romance and genuine heartbreak, Garbo moves through every phase with delicate nuance. While critics over the years have felt compelled to take potshots at Taylor for his efforts here, the role of Armand only required that he be convincingly both good-looking and good-hearted, and he succeeded on each count. Of the supporting performances, special note has to be given to the terrific screen villain Daniell, who in the role of the callous and officious Baron received an ideal showcase for his patented brand of reptilian cruelty. The mastering job on the DVD of Camille is crisp, and presented in the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, and the Dolby 1.0 Mono audio is extremely clean. Warner chose to provide Camille with a most significant add-on, that being MGM's 1921 silent take on the story, with the title role going to the legendary Broadway diva Alla Nazimova. The Russian émigré's repute as a stage performer granted her an unprecedented amount of clout during her comparatively brief run as a Hollywood lead through the teens and '20s, and she made the calls as to script and production. That's very much in evidence in this final effort from her stint at MGM, right down to the insistence that the role of Armand go to a relative unknown named Rudolph Valentino. Valentino's star-making performance in The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse (1920) had yet to open at the time Camille was lensed, and his natural efforts here helped cement his growing reputation. Camille is his only project in which all three of the women most tied to his meteoric career participated. Like Nazimova, screenwriter June Mathis was an avid early patron, and it was on this set that he met his notorious second wife, art director Natacha Rambova. Rambova's audacious art deco set design for Nazimova's modern-dress spin on the Dumas tale remains one of the primary points of interest in the film today. Less so can be said for the on-screen efforts of Nazimova herself, which come across as rather florid and overwrought. The actress was in her early forties when Camille was made, and to the contemporary eye, the abrupt shifts to soft-focus for her close-ups borders on the comical. Much has been noted of her choice to have Armand written out of the death scene, and speculation abounds that fear of being upstaged by Valentino was the motivating factor. The film is effectively complemented by the newly-commissioned musical score from Peter Vantine. Rounding out the extras are the theatrical trailer and an audio track featuring one MGM's "Leo is On the Air" radio promotions of the era. For more information about Camille, visit Warner Video. To order Camille, go to TCM Shopping. by Jay S. Steinberg

Quotes

His eyes have made love to me all evening.
- Marguerite
If you don't stop being so easy-going with your money, you'll land in the gutter before you're through or back on that farm where you came from, milking cows and cleaning out hen houses.
- Olympe
Cows and chickens make better friends than I've ever met in Paris.
- Marguerite
Yes, you, well you did smile at me a moment ago, didn't you?
- Armand
Well, you tell me first whether you smiled at me or my friend.
- Marguerite
What friend?
- Armand
You didn't even see her?
- Marguerite
No.
- Armand
She's not easy to get along with, I can tell you, ask anybody... and she has the reputation of being one of the most extravagant girls in Paris as well as one of the most insincere... She's the kind who says one thing and thinks another.
- Olympe
Now what shall I give you to remember me by?
- Marguerite
You can't give me anything I'd like.
- Baron de Varville
What's that?
- Marguerite
A tear. You're not sorry enough I'm going.
- Baron de Varville
Oh, but I *am* sorry.
- Marguerite

Trivia

The play originally opened in Paris on 2 February 1852. Dumas based the character Marguerite on a woman with whom he had an affair for 11 months. She died when she was 23. The movie inspired Milton Benjamin to write and publish a song in 1936 called "I'll Love Like Robert Taylor, Be My Greta Garbo".

Notes

The following written prologue follows the opening credits: "1847: In the gay half-world of Paris, the gentlemen of the day met the girls of the moment at certain theatres, balls and gambling clubs, where the code was discretion-but the game was romance. This is the story of one of those pretty creatures who lived on the quicksands of popularity-Marguerite Gautier, who brightened her wit with champagne-and sometimes with tears in her eyes."
       The Alexandre Dumas, fils novel was adapted into a play that was first produced in Paris in 1848. Information contained in a September 1937 feature article on Camille in Picturegoer Weekly notes that Dumas based his fictional heroine on Alphonsine Plessis, a French woman with whom he had had a relationship for eleven months. Plessis, who changed her name to Marie Plessis, died heavily in debt on February 3, 1947, at the age of twenty-three. According to a news item in Daily Variety, at one time M-G-M considered changing the setting of the Dumas story to modern times. Writer Ernest Vajda was the first screenwriter assigned to the project according to a November 8, 1935 Hollywood Reporter news item, but Vajda's name is not included in credits after production began and the extent of his contribution to the completed film has not been determined. News items in Daily Variety and Hollywood Reporter on July 25, 1936 note that John Barrymore was originally cast in the role of "Baron de Varville," but a bout of pneumonia prevented him from working on the picture. Barrymore's brother Lionel was scheduled to replace John in the role; however, a few days later, it was reported that a change in casting resulted in Lionel Barrymore's assignment to the role of "Monsieur Duval," and Henry Daniell's assignment to "Baron de Varville." Photographer William Daniels is mistakenly listed as a cast member in early Hollywood Reporter production charts.
       A note in Hollywood Citizen-News on February 4, 1937 advises readers that the music played on the Herbert Stothart soundtrack during the scene in which "Armand" carries "Marguerite" into the barn of their country cottage is "Makin' Whoopee!" [by Gus Kahn and Walter Donaldson]; in fact, though the first few notes of the Stothart melody is very similar to the opening bars of the Kahn-Donaldson song, the Stothart music is played at a much slower tempo and immediately changes to an entirely different melody. This was Greta Garbo's first film since Anna Karenina, released on September 6, 1935. A programme for the Plaza Theatre in New York's premiere of the film indicates that opening night tickets sold for $5.50. Camille marked the screen debut of actress Joan Leslie, who appeared under her real name, Joan Brodel.
       Modern sources credits Jack D. Moore and Henry Grace with set decoration and Joan and Eugene Joseff with creation of the costume jewelry word by Garbo. According to a biography of director George Cukor, he agreed to do retakes on the film at the personal request of M-G-M production head Irving Thalberg whom he regarded highly. The biography quotes Cukor as calling Thalberg "the most brilliant, the most creative producer that I worked with. That includes everyone. Garbo was thirty-one when she made Camille and Robert Taylor was twenty-five. She earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for the picture but lost to Luise Rainer for The Good Earth. Garbo was named Best Actress by the New York Film Critics and was named one of the Best Actresses of the year by the National Board of Review. The film was also selected as one of the best of the year by the National Board of Review, and was included in the "Ten Best" list of New York Times. Contemporary critics praised Garbo's performance as perhaps her best. The Variety reviewed said, "Miss Garbo has never done anything better. Her impersonation of Marguerite Gautier is sure to go down among her best portraits." Frank S. Nugent of New York Times wrote, "Miss Garbo has interpreted Marguerite Gautier with the subtlety that has earned her the title 'first lady of the screen'....and mark her as one apart....it is her performance in the death scene-so simply, delicately and movingly played-which convinces me that Camille is Garbo's best performance." Many modern critics have also pointed to Camille as Garbo's best performance. Dumas' novel was the basis for the 1853 Giuseppe Verdi-Francesco Maria Piave opera La Traviata. Among the many films which were the based on or inspired by the Dumas novel are, a 1907 Danish short entitled La dame aux camélias; a 1915 Shubert production, entitled Camille directed by Albert Capellani and starring Clara Kimball Young and Paul Capellani; a 1917 Fox film, also entitled Camille, directed by J. Gordon Edwards and starring Theda Bara and Albert Roscoe (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20; F1.0580 and F1.0579); and a 1984 British-made television movie, directed by Desmond Davis and starring Greta Scacchi and Colin Firth.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter January 1937

Completed production December 1936.

Released in United States Winter January 1937