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The 5 Roles That Defined Greta Garbo's Career

By    |   Friday, 08 May 2015 07:54 AM

By the time Swedish-born actress Greta Garbo appeared in her first American film, 1926's "Torrent," she was already an established star in Europe. However, the best was yet to come for Garbo, who hit the ground running in 1930, earning not one but two Academy Award nominations for her work that year.

Although she was nominated twice more, in 1938 and 1940, the only Oscar she ever won was an honorary one in 1955. Even without the approval of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Garbo is regarded as one of the best all-time at her craft. Here is an overview of five of Garbo's best roles.

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1. Anna "Christie" Christofferson, "Anna Christie" (1930)

Garbo's first appearance in a talking picture (marketed by film studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer with the tagline "Garbo Talks!"), her turn as the film's title character also earned the Swedish actress her first Academy Award nomination (and first of two for the year). She stars as Anna "Christie" Christofferson, a prostitute who is the estranged daughter of a New York boat captain and falls in love with a sailor (Charles Bickford).

2. Madame Rita Cavallini, "Romance" (1930)

Garbo's performance in "Romance" netted the actress her second Academy Award nomination in 1930 for her performance as Madame Rita Cavallini, an Italian opera singer, who falls in love with the son of a disapproving aristocratic family, who is also a priest. Actors Lewis Stone and Gavin Gordon also star, according to IMDb.

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3. Grusinskaya, "Grand Hotel" (1932)

Featuring an ensemble cast that includes John Barrymore, Joan Crawford, Wallace Beery, Lionel Barrymore, Lewis Stone, and Jean Hersholt, Garbo stars as Grusinskaya, a Russian ballerina whose career is coming to an end and is leading to a bout of insanity. Staying at the Grand Hotel in Berlin, she becomes attracted to Baron Felix von Geigern (John Barrymore), who was attempting to rob her of her jewels, and they make plans to leave for Vienna the next day. The filmed won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

4. Marguerite Gautier, "Camille" (1936)

Garbo earned her third Best Actress in a Leading Role from the Academy Awards for her performance in "Camille," in which she plays Marguerite Gautier, a poor girl who transforms herself into someone from high society while living in Paris. Although her lifestyle is funded by one man, she falls in love with another (portrayed by Robert Taylor) and risks everything for love. Directed by George Cukor, the film also stars Lionel Barrymore.

5. Ninotchka, "Ninotchka" (1939)

In her penultimate film appearance, Garbo did something she had never done before in her illustrious movie career: appear in a comedy. Known strictly for her dramatic roles, film studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer even marketed the film with the tagline "Garbo Laughs!," which was a play on her first appearance in a talking movie, "Anna Christie." In "Ninotchka," Garbo portrays Nina "Ninotchka" Yakushova, a Soviet envoy whose goal is to capture three runaway Russian jewel thieves. The film also stars Melvyn Douglas and Bela Lugosi and earned Garbo her final Academy Award nomination.

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By the time Swedish-born actress Greta Garbo appeared in her first American film, Torrent, she was already an established star in Europe. However, the best role was yet to come for Garbo, who hit the ground running in 1930, earning not one but two Academy Awards.
greta garbo, roles, movies, actress, films
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