lunes, 4 de agosto de 2008

The Temptress

The Temptress (2005 DVD)
Directed by Fred Niblo
USA, 1926
Silent with intertitles in English and subtitles in French and Spanish

A lightweight but entertaining tale of l'amour fou based on a work by Vicente Blasco Ibañez. While gender studies students should have a field day discussing whether Garbo's title character comes off as the heroine or the villainess of the film, others can just sit back and smile as a parade of men in awful moustaches practically piss all over themselves succumbing to the lovely Elena's devilish charms. Real-life madrileño Antonio Moreno is a bit of a weak link as the brooding engineer that the Temptress supposedly falls in love with enough to abandon her cushy life in France to follow all the way down to rugged Argentina (were you to borrow a vintage monocle from the good count Ferdinand von Galitzien, it would still be difficult to detect any traces of actual emotion in Moreno's wooden performance!), but the move from Paris to the Cono Sur at least allows for some great civilización y barbarie moments featuring guitar-playing gauchos, an uptight Frenchman trying mate for the first time, and the introduction of Roy D'Arcy as scene-stealing pampas villain Manos Duras (the guy responsible for the whip marks on injured engineer Robledo below). Manos is just a minor character in the movie's awkward and heavyhanded debate over whether Elena or men are ultimately to blame for the sexual obsession she inspires all around her; however, he gets off the best line in the movie after blowing up a dam in her honor:

"Beautiful Lady:

My songs could not touch your heart--perhaps a symphony in dynamite will be more to your taste?

Your admirer,

Manos Duras"

Garbo (left) and Moreno (shirtless and charisma-less, right)

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