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A WOMAN OF AFFAIRS (1928)

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Discussion before

Forbidden love is at the heart of this silent feature and third film to team Greta Garbo with off-screen lover John Gilbert. They star as childhood sweethearts Diana and Neville, kept apart by Neville’s snobbish father. When the pair finally reunite years later, Neville is married to another woman who is so mired in scandal that their love becomes impossible. The Garbo-Gilbert romance was pretty impossible, too. They quarreled a great deal during filming and broke up shortly after making the film. MGM had bought the rights to Michael Arlen’s notorious novel The Green Hat despite the Hays Office’s objections. To adapt it for the screen, MGM had to change the title, the characters’ names and several plot elements; for instance, Diana’s husband, David (Johnny Mack Brown), commits suicide because he has syphilis in the novel, but in the film it’s over embezzlement. Also, a night of passion between the leads was only hinted at in the film, and a character’s miscarriage is labeled as an unspecified illness. Another censored element was the unrequited love Diana’s brother (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.) possesses for David (though it still reads that way on screen). Nevertheless, the film was a smash hit upon its release, as fans flocked to see the legendary Garbo-Gilbert duo romancing each other on screen unknowingly for the final time in a silent picture. Film preservationist and director Kevin Brownlow revived the film through his company Photoplay in 2002. This film will be accompanied by a live orchestra performing a score composed and conducted by Carl Davis. (d. Clarence Brown, 98m, 35mm)

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