Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Monday, May 5, 2008


MATA HARI (1931). Director: George Fitzmaurice.

A romantic film fashioned from the legend of the famous spy Mata Hari, here enacted by the equally legendary Greta Garbo. Mata is a German spy working in Paris in 1917, taking her orders from Lewis Stone. Her latest assignment is the boyish Russian soldier, Lt. Alexis Rosanoff (Ramon Navarro). Lionel Barrymore is an aging General who is obsessed with Mata and Karen Morley is Carlotta, another, ill-fated German agent. The second half of the film turns into a surprisingly poignant love story with Garbo and Navarro both giving excellent performances. It takes a while to accept both of these actors in their respective roles, but once you do they are very creditable and convincing. This probably has very little to do with the real Mata Hari, but it's a very compelling movie. Lewis Stone is also excellent as the head of the spy ring.

Verdict: One hanky tearjerker at least. ***.

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