MATA HARI (1931) 

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Greta Garbo
Ramon Navarro
Lionel Barrymore
Lewis Stone
C. Henry Gordon
Karen Morley
Alec B. Francis
Blanche Friderici

George Fitzmaurice



Time: 89 mins.
Rating: Not Rated
Genre: Drama/Romance

SYNOPSIS: The infamous dancer Mata Hari lives life on the edge in 1917 Paris, skirting the police who believe she's a spy and manipulating any man who may have information she needs. She's able to keep one step ahead of the law until she meets a man who captures her heart, causing her downfall.

BOTTOM LINE: Garbo is certainly not the most beautiful woman to grace the big screen, but her appeal, even in the most convoluted of tales, is undeniable. Probably because she always made sure the role was worth her time. Her films also have a higher standard of cinematography and art direction most others of the period lacked. Those elements are exactly what makes MATA HARI worth watching. Her costumes are gorgeous, her leading men equally talented and the role one that must have been great fun to play.

She's a strong, smart woman capable of anything to further her cause – which is mainly her own survival. She uses men, who don't usually complain, that is until she runs into the young and impressionable Lt. Alexis Rosanoff (Navarro). She breaks his heart after their initial meeting only to have the tables turned when she discovers he has information she requires. Her "relationship" with the handsome pilot causes one of her other gentlemen callers, the furiously jealous General Serge Shubin (Barrymore), to take drastic matters to end their association and her future as a spy.

It's not a unique tale, but Garbo and Navarro have such wonderful sexual chemistry, you almost believe she'd be so dumb as to fall in love with the enemy. Throughout cinema history, women have had to redeem themselves of their misdeeds to become worthy of true love. Thankfully, this film handles her moral turnaround with grace and class. No one expected Garbo to be a good girl, which works in the film's favor. A film that mixes a little duplicity with a bit of history, using Garbo's charms to their full advantage.

"I give up on a lot of things, but then I take them back."

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