Mata Hari: the name breathes mystery, intrigue and sexual allure. Who better to play the notorious World War I spy than Greta Garbo, the enigmatic, exquisite screen icon called The Swedish Sphinx? Garbo is mesmerizing as t... more »he dancer-turned-German secret agent in a wartime Paris seething with secrets and betrayal. The notable supporting cast includes Lionel Barrymore as a Russian general besotted with her, Lewis Stone as an icy master spy, and Ramon Novarro as a handsome aviator who wins the heart Mata Hari did not know she possessed. With the world at war, love was her weapon. And the only men she couldn't seduce were the 12 in the firing squad that ended her tragic and tumultuous life.« less
Jery Tillotson | New York, NY United States | 01/05/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the Garbo movie I watch nearly every week, and have watched
for years. For one thing, no other Ameican movie so brilliantly
choreographed costumes, decor, lightning,star make-up like this
extraordinary fantasy of the notorious spy. The fact it was made in
l932 is another plus because our movie stars looked so damned glorious
back then. Hours and entire days were spent lighting one
close-up. Adrian came up with knockout fashions for his great star:
fantastic lame capes, sequined/precious stone gowns, fur-lined
greatcoats, hats of all types, ravishing photography by William
Daniels. Garbo is cast opposite a perfect male beauty of that era: the
now forgotten but very sensual Ramon Navarro, who had been a great
silent star like Garbo but unlike her, he was on his way out. He was
later murdered in the early 50s by two neanderthal hustlers who used
the black,art deco dildo given to him by his tragic lover,
Valentino.... Cedric Gibbons designed the high gloss fantasy world of
intrigue in Germany. Camera set-ups and groupings, especially in the
surreal court scene, often looks like a Russian avant-garde
movie. Shadows, Garbo's face painted in ultra white make-up, very
thick eyeliner and false lashes, so that she resembles a symbol,
rather than a person make you realize just how lovingly a screen
goddess was treated in those days. (I mention this movie often in my
book on old Hollywood, "The Kiss of King Kong"). Best scene
is with Garbo at the hospital, visiting her lover, Navarro. Wearing a
stunning 30s hat with a metal pendant, a knock-out furlined coat,
photographed unforgettably by Daniels, you're transported into another
dimension. The final scene of Garbo being led off by soldiers to be
shot is another unforgettable movie moment. Viva la Garbo, Adrian,
Daniels, MGM! Garbo would never look so magnificent and other-worldly.
C. Tolley | hampton, tn United States | 03/21/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Actually, the only real reason I wanted to see this picture was the alluring Greta Garbo. The woman radiates mystery, which in today's cinema is all-to-rare. She is really the best thing about this film, which is kind of cheesy in everything else. The costumes are gorgeous, the sets are well-contrived, but it's the worn story and wooden acting all around Garbo that drag this film down.
This is a Hollywood rendering of a famous spy, Mata Hari, who, on being caught, is executed by firing squad in the end. There is no faulting Garbo's contribution, as she slithers from one scene to the next, fully convincing as the ill-fated, beautiful spy. I only the rest of the cast had put forth that much effort! Ah well.
Fans of Miss Garbo will, no doubt, fully enjoy this film, as Garbo is actually very moving in her scenes. Now don't get me wrong, I actually enjoyed this film, myself. I just wish more effort could have been put forth by just a few more of her colleagues.
I give this film four stars on the basis of Garbo's unique ability to light up the screen whenever she appears, and for the glorious costumes that populate her environment. Just sit back and enjoy the visual treat that was Greta Garbo."
GARBO - THE ENIGMA
Henning Sebastian Jahre | Oslo, Norway | 11/03/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As MATA HARI, Garbo shows us hints of what was soon 2 come(Queen Christina, Camille) but in THIS film she is a sexy siren. No wonder 20s and early 30s people fell head over heals for her. All other "goddesses" are pale shadows. There was nothing as magical as Garbo. The script is corny at times, Lionel B. hams his part(see Mickey Rooney "do him" in BABES IN ARMS 1939) but the film has a magic air that is spellbounding... In no way a great thriller or a suspenser(laughable when it is attempting 2)but a great GARBO vehicle. Roman Novarro is OK but is ruined with some of the lines he has to say."
Truly great MGM masterpiece
simon Davis (email@example.com) | Melbourne Australia | 08/04/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Excellent early 30's vechicle for Greta Garbo and Ramon Novarro. Both stars have never been better in both looks and performances. Lighting of the film is a real highlight and it's performances like this that make you wonder why the great Ramon Novarro didn't stay one of the greatest heartthrobs of 30's romances, he is sensational. Garbo as always is exotic, mysterious and totally captivating. Any real lover of Hollywood's glamour era when stars were real stars should purchase this video."
Not really great, but worth watching
Anyechka | Rensselaer, NY United States | 02/15/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This seems like one of those films that sounded better on paper than in the actual finished product. The sets and costumes are gorgeous, the plot (though rather loosely based on the history behind the real Mata Hari) had a lot of potential to be interesting and gripping, and it has four big names heading the bill. Greta Garbo and Ramon Novarro are two of my favorites, and though I haven't seen him in a huge amount of films yet, I've also really enjoyed Lewis Stone in the films I have seen him in. The other big star, Lionel Barrymore, overacts as usual, though he does pull off the role well. (Though I know he was talented in spite of his tendency to overact, it's beyond me why he was once considered a better actor than his brother John.)
However, in spite of the big names, the promising storyline, and the gorgeous costumes and sets, the picture ultimately seems to fall rather flat. Perhaps part of it could be attributed to how this is after all an early talkie, made in 1931; it would take a little bit longer yet for films to lose this stagy feeling, with almost nonstop chatter, and go back to having more freedom of motion and a balance between dialogue and scenes and moments that didn't rely so heavily on constant talk. Many of these lines themselves weren't very dramatic or original, more like empty words used to fill the time. Additionally, it just didn't seem to have a whole lot of dramatic tension or to be a very compelling interesting story till it was well more than halfway over. There's also the problem of how Ramon is supposed to be portraying a Russian aviator. Given his Mexican accent and Mexican appearance, it's not really convincing, though he is as beautiful as always, and does manage to convey his talent and bring depth and emotion to the role in spite of the oftentimes rather lame script. And as in all of her other roles, Garbo also really shines. She always managed to elevate films that would otherwise be outright clunkers to something interesting and at a higher level due to her subtlety and her electric presence, not to mention how beautiful she was even when she had to wear some pretty ridiculous outfits, as she does here (particularly her hats). Basically (in my opinion at least), it's one of those films that one watches just to see the stars of because they made it interesting by their mere presence, whereas, had the leads been lesser-talented and less-captivating actors, one might not be all that inclined to want to watch it."