‘Gimme a whiskey, ginger ale on the side, and don’t be stingy baby’
These were the first words spoken in the English version of the 1930 film Anna Christie by Swedish born Greta Garbo in a talking film. For TCM’s German Cinema in the Weimar Era theme I decided to borrow the DVD from my local library to watch the German version and compare to the English version.
Anna Christie was an MGM Studio movie, as soon as the English version of the film was shot; shooting began on the German version with basically the same sets, German actors in the supporting roles, German writers, Belgium born Director Jacques Feyder and different costumes.
I was impressed with both movies. Each film had its idiosyncrasies Garbo did an excellent job of acting in both movies.
Idiosyncrasies: I always thought Garbo acted a little over the top in some scenes in her movies but I wonder if it wasn’t the English throwing her off. In the English spoken Anna Christie the identical emotions she used in the German version seemed to be a more of an understated realistic performance. I know it’s silly but it fascinated me how Garbo sliced a loaf of bread. In the English version during dialog at the kitchen table she sliced a loaf of bread the way I assume we all slice bread, on the table with a knife slicing through the loaf to the table top. In the German version she holds the loaf against her chest and cuts the loaf with a large knife slicing through the loaf towards her chest… Is that a European type of thing?
This being a pre-code movie: in the English version the outfit Garbo wore in her first scenes shouted streetwalker. Low cut blouse ribbon tied in a bow at her neck, dangling earrings. The German outfit: dark mock turtle neck, checkered skirt, dark jacket with matching checkered trim on the lapel and collar was more understated but the heavy mascara on her eyes gave her away. This Eugene O’Neill play covered the subjects of: abandonment, rape, prostitution, illegitimacy, women drinking, smoking, houses of ill repute and living in sin.
A hunky Charles Bickford playing Garbo’s love interest insists Garbo swear an oath to God on his dead mothers cross that he wears around his neck that Garbo loves or has loved only him. Then he asks if she is Catholic. In the German version the hunky Theo Shall has Garbo swear to God about her love for him just not on a catholic cross.
William Daniels Cinematographer for both versions was nominated for an Oscar for Anna Christie. The English version film however seems a better quality of film than the German version. Greta Garbo was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in Anna Christie. Garbo lost to Norma Shearer for her performance in the movie The Divorcee which Rochellelynn Posted about in her Post titled: Happy Un-Valentine’s Day or Divorce in Classic Hollywood.
English Version: Screenplay Adaption-Frances Marion was the first female writer to win an Oscar for the 1930 film ‘The Big House’ the same year she adapted Anna Christie.
Anna to Matt: Are you trying to accuse me of being in love, really in love with them?
Matt to Anna: Your swearin on a catholic cross and your one of the others?
Anna to Father & Matt: Time for you two to kiss and make up
German Version: German born, Frank Reicher wrote the German Screenplay with Walter Hasenclever writing the German Dialogue
Anna to Marthy(father’s prostitute friend):If the old man won’t help me I’ll have to start it up again. I hate all men don’t you?
Matt to Anna’s father: Marry her? I’d just as soon beat her to death.
Anna to Father & Matt: Time for you two to drink to your new brotherhood.