Camille (Cukor, 1936)

The heroine of George Cukor’s Camille can’t ever seem to make up her mind. As played by the great Greta Garbo, Marguerite is torn back and forth between the love of Robert Taylor’s Armand Duval and the wealth of Henry Daniell’s Baron de Varville so many times it becomes unimportant where she ends up. A “classic” love story, but one that relies too simply on this push pull love triangle, Camille has lush and lavish set design but none of the drama one would expect of such material. Even with all the period piece settings, Cukor’s drama can’t overcome the repetition of plot, especially when the performances are this wooden (Taylor is the consummate nutcracker). The doomed life of Marguerite has little charm and a bunch of melodrama, her exploits meandering through tough life changing decisions played off as casual musings of the rich. Garbo’s performance is the only sign of life in Camille, making her demise extremely ironic – it’s as if the film has put so much stock in her character it suffers more and more as she becomes increasingly love-sick. In the end, Marguerite’s life is wasted, much like Camille wastes much of it’s talent. It’s becoming apparent to me Cuckor’s comedy’s outclass his works of drama any day.

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