Cast & Crew
In Paris, artist's model Yvonne has been immortalized by the painter Jouvet, the sculptor Henry Coutant and Galand, the author of a book of love. Said to be "as well-known as the Eiffel Tower," the popular and free-spirited Yvonne has served as the inspiration to some of the greatest artists and writers in Europe. At a party attended by bohemians and artists, Yvonne becomes bored by the pretentious guests, including Coutant, who tries to rekindle his romance with the model to no avail. Yvonne sulks in a corner until she meets the handsome André Montell, who, to her astonishment, is not an artist, but a student studying at the Consular Service. Immediately taken by André, Yvonne suggests that they leave the party. Yvonne neglects to tell her husband Vignaud, whom she does not love, that she is leaving with another man. She also neglects to tell André that she is married. A romance between André and the model soon flourishes, and Yvonne shows her willingness to give up the security and comfort of her marriage for André. Meanwhile, André is visited by his uncle Julian and Madeleine, a childhood playmate of his. Yvonne instantly becomes jealous of André's attentions to Madeleine. Later, after Yvonne tells her husband that she does not plan to return to him, she tries to throw him out of his own house. André, overhearing the fracas, realizes that Yvonne is married and after apologizing to Vignaud for the affair, leaves. Later, while modelling for Coutant, Yvonne tells André that she loves only him, but she is immediately attacked by Odette, a jealous model who insinuates that Yvonne is a wanton woman with a sordid past. Although Yvonne tries to convince André that the allegations are not true, he does not believe her and tells her that he wants to forget that he ever knew her. On her way out, Yvonne slaps Odette for driving André away. Time passes, and Yvonne, destitute, walks by André on the street near his school, but he ignores her. When Yvonne is unable to pay a small bill at a nearby cafe, André sees her distress and pays it for her. He then takes her to dinner and realizes that she has been living like a pauper. Before André leaves for Algiers, Yvonne discovers that he is going to marry another woman and calls him a coward and a liar for not telling her earlier. Tragedy strikes when Yvonne's friend Liane Latour commits suicide after being spurned by playboy Delval. Shocked by the news, André fears the same fate may befall Yvonne and decides to return to her. However, since André last saw Yvonne, she has been seeing Mr. Normand, an ex-lover who was imprisoned for writing bad checks. Intent on preventing her suicide, André pleads with Yvonne to marry him, and she accepts. Later, though, Yvonne realizes that he came back to her out of sympathy. After writing André a farewell letter, in which she tells him to forget her and marry the right woman, Yvonne leaves him.
When asked to describe her character in Inspiration, Garbo replied, "I am just a nice young woman." Overall, critics didn't care for the film, but many praised Garbo's work. Variety reported, "Miss Garbo has never looked or played better than in this pictureÉ Replete with heavy love stuff, she plays it easily and convincingly." The New York Times stated, "Miss Garbo, no matter what may be said of the story, gives a stunning performance as the girl who is the toast of Paris studios."
Pathe, a French film company, sued MGM over the film Inspiration. The story by James Forbes was from the novel Sappho by Alphonse Daudet. In the United States, the story was considered in the public domain, but copyright laws were different in Europe. Inspiration could not be released in the United States until Pathe and MGM reached an agreement.
Inspiration was the only film in which Garbo starred opposite Robert Montgomery. At the time, Montgomery was one of the top male leads for MGM. Co-star Lewis Stone appeared in more films with Garbo than anyone else. Stone is best remembered, however, for his role as Judge Hardy in the Andy Hardy series of films starring Mickey Rooney.
Producer/Director: Clarence Brown
Screenplay: Gene Markey. Adaptation by James Forbes. Based on a novel by Alphonse Daudet.
Cinematography: William H. Daniels
Editor: Conrad A. Nervig
Music: William Axt
Cast: Greta Garbo (Yvonne), Robert Montgomery (Andre Martel), Lewis Stone (Delval), Karen Morley (Liane), Marjorie Rambeau (Lulu), Arthur Hoyt (Gavarni), John Miljan (Coutant).
by Deborah Looney
Release of the movie was delayed because of a law suit Pathe brought against MGM. Although Daudet's novel was in public domain in the United States, it was still under copyright protection in Europe. Pathe won the suit
Onscreen credits did not mention that this film was based on Alphonse Daudet's novel. Among the many films based on Daudet's novel are: a 1913 Majestic film entitled Sapho, which starred Florence Roberts; a 1917 Paramount film, also entitled Sapho, directed by Hugh Ford and starring Pauline Frederick and Frank Losee (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20; F1.3853 and F1.3554); and the 1934 French film Sapho directed by Léonce Perret and starring Mary Marquet and Jean Max. A biography of Greta Garbo noted that the actress had difficulties with director Clarence Brown, whom she called "old-fashioned." Although Garbo reportedly threatened to walk off the picture, return to Sweden and never work for Brown again, she completed the film and later went on to do two more films with the director.