Marianne (Greta Garbo), who was placed on a farm by her mother so
that the mother might live her gay life in Paris alone, is finally
sent for by her and is brought to Paris by one of her mother's
lovers, Legrande (Lowell Sherman). When he makes a pass at her, she
hits him and flees thinking he is dead. She is befriended by a
soldier, Lucien (Lars Hanson). He leaves her with a friend,
Mme. Pigonier (Polly Moran), a laundress, and goes off with his
One night, Marianne meets Legrande. He is fascinated by her and vows
to make her a big stage star. Excited by the prospect of becoming
famous, Marianne becomes his mistress. Lucien returns, a
deserter, and is arrested and imprisoned. When he gets out on
parole, he goes to see Marianne and denounces her.
She, still in love with Lucien, renounces her career, and leaves
Legrande. She becomes impoverished, but Lucien finds her and
saves her from self-destruction. They reconcile and leave for
South America, where he has a small ranch, to start life anew.
Garbo's eighth film was to be her last with Lars Hanson. Her
role in this film was patterned on the life of Sarah Bernhardt. The
John Mack Brown's first role in a Garbo movie. In the
sound era, he was to become a famous Western star.
What was said about THE DIVINE WOMAN:
New York Herald Tribune (Harriet Underhill)
"We insist that all those who, in their foolishness, have cried,
'There is no screen acting—the figures are but puppets, with the
director pulling the strings,' go to the Capitol Theater and take a
Greta Garbo and Lars Hanson in The Divine Woman.
Many who admit that there is acting on the screen have stated that
Miss Garbo did not act, however, that she was only a beautiful woman
with a strong appeal."
"After seeing her play Marianne in this new Metro-Goldwyn picture,
no one ever again could say that. In the first place, we are
not at all sure that Miss Garbo is beautiful. It seems to be
soul, rather than prettiness, which makes her face so attractive,
and no one could call Lars Hanson handsome! Still we cannot
for the moment think of any two performances as fine as these
offered by a Swedish actress and a Swedish actor."
Motion Picture (Elizabeth Goldbeck)
"I must be getting inured to
Greta Garbo. In this picture she again seemed very lovely
indeed. And I think the secret is that, given a part in which
she is expected to be something more than a vamp, she is quite a
capable girl. She wakes up and has expressions just like other
people and is really charming. In fact, I think you will
thoroughly enjoy this picture."
Screenland (Delight Evans)
"This picture is a huge disappointment, and, although I am
trying to bear up, my emotions get the better of me at times; you
see, I counted on
Greta Garbo. I rooted myself hoarse for her. The
most potent personality on the screen—the girl who made Hollywood
actresses look like stock company ingenues [sic]—the Swedish marvel at
emotional massage—she was all of that. And now, just look at
The Divine Woman. Here is a new Garbo, who flutters,
who mugs. This interestingly reserved lady goes completely
Hollywood, all at once. It may have been the part. It
may have been the direction—but I don't think so. Miss Garbo
seems to me to have only one scene in her usual marvelous quite
manner...But for the rest—excuse me! 'I go now!'"