Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Greta Garbo "The Single Standard" (1929)

"The Single Standard" (1929) is a silent romantic drama starring Greta Garbo, Nils Asther, and Johnny Mack Brown. Directed by John S. Robertson and adapted from the novel by Adela Rogers St. Johns, this film examines female liberation and sexuality. The story begins with young socialite Arden Stuart, played by Greta Garbo, in a party. That evening Arden asks Anthony Kendall, a family chauffeur to take her for a ride. When they are caught returning from a romantic fling, the chauffeur is fired by his employer and then commits suicide by speeding out the car and crashing it into a nearby tree.
Three months later, Arden meets famous artist Packy Cannon, played by Nils Asther. They sail together for a long romantic trip aboard his yacht. Arden wants to marry him, but Packy soon dumps her. Back home in San Francisco, Arden is proposed again by an old friend, millionaire Tommy Hewlett, played by Johnny Mack Brown. On the rebound from Packy, Arden accepts his marriage proposal. Three years later, Packy returns and wants her back. Arden loves Packy, but has a son with Tommy. What will she do? "The Single Standard" incorporates the ideals of women's liberation in the 1920's. Modern viewers would be surprised to know that by 1929 women had been liberated and had achieved sexual equality. The films of the era reflected these movements of America's slipping puritanism until the Hays Code became fully operational around 1934. Greta Garbo's Arden Stuart was made to relate with the modern women who made her own rules of sexual behavior. The Garbo character in "The Single Standard" insists on revised moral principles that would eliminate the double standard of sexual behavior and replace it with a single rule applying equally to men and to women. "The Single Standard" was Garbo's penultimate silent film. Worried that her rich, deep voice and thick Swedish accent would not record properly, MGM executives kept Garbo in silent films longer than any of the studio's other contractees. This film was Garbo's first "modern" role and she gives one of her most sensitive and restrained performances. The love scenes are romantic and tender. Most of the film is beautifully photographed and lit even though there is some nitrate decomposition. "The Single Standard" is worth watching just to see the divine Garbo perfectly cast playing an unconventional and independent woman.



  1. Silent, From reading and looking at the pictures, in your review. Greta Garbo, seems more of a modern woman in this film. I can not wait to see it..

  2. Dawn, I totally agree with you. Garbo was so modern in this film. Her wardrobe was very modern as well. The only thing bad about this film were some spots with nitrate decomposition. TCM hasn't shown this film in a while so I decided to buy the dvd from the Warner Archives for $18.00. I wanted to have it in my collection.

  3. Silent, I just watched the movie THE KID. Left you my thoughts on the film on your reveiw. :)


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