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The faces of Greta Garbo

The enigmatic star bade farewell to Hollywood with 'Two-Faced Woman,' which happens to have returned on DVD.

January 24, 2011|By Susan King, Los Angeles Times
  • Greta Garbo, posing for the movie "The Divine Woman" in November 1927.
Greta Garbo, posing for the movie "The Divine Woman" in November… (Ruth Harriet Louise / Santa…)

Not many superstars retire from the screen while in their 30s, but Greta Garbo did just that. She turned her back on Hollywood after the release of the 1941 romantic comedy "Two-Faced Woman." It really wasn't her swan song; it was more of a swan dive, with critics and audiences turning their nose up at MGM's attempt to make the Swedish star of such dramas as "Grand Hotel" and "Camille" into a va-va-va vamp.

Though she won an Oscar nomination for her first comedy, 1939's "Ninotchka," the Ernst Lubitsch comedy co-written by Billy Wilder was sophisticated and smart. "Two-Faced Woman" was a naughty little farce — it was condemned by the Catholic Legion of Decency — about a woman who pretends she's her twin to get back her wayward husband.

Warner Archive recently released "Two-Faced Woman" on DVD, as well as Garbo's first American film, the 1926 melodrama "Torrent," which had critics heaping praise on the enigmatic actress. Variety reported Garbo was a "girl with everything, looks, acting ability and personality."

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