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As You Desire Me [VHS]

4.2 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Greta Garbo, Melvyn Douglas, Erich von Stroheim, Owen Moore, Hedda Hopper
  • Directors: George Fitzmaurice
  • Format: Black & White, NTSC
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: MGM (Warner)
  • VHS Release Date: September 1, 1998
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 630196411X
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #209,869 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Budapest bar entertainer Zara is a discontented alcoholic who is pursued by many men but lives with novelist Carl Salter. A strange man (Tony) shows up on Salter's estate claiming that Zara is actually Maria, the wife of his close friend Bruno. Maria, Tony claims, had her memory destroyed during a World War I invasion ten years ago. Zara doesn't remember but leaves with Tony to Salter's dismay. Bruno, now an officer in the Italian army, tries to coax Maria's memory back on his large estate. No one is really sure if Zara is Maria, and when Salter shows up with a mental case that he claims is the real Maria, everyone on Bruno's estate is desperately searching for the truth.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
This is a poorly executed film that is based upon a play by Luigi Pirandello. The film opens onto a high end supper club in Budapest, where violins are playing and a chanteuse, an amnesiac who calls herself Zara (Greta Garbo), is singing to a packed audience. The languorous and world weary Zara leaves the stage, pursued by a number of enamored and decidedly unattractive stage door Johnnies of all ages, and they proceed to paint the town red.
When they arrive at Zara's home, they are greeted by the mysterious Count Salter (Erich von Stroheim), the man with whom she lives. While Zara is busy entertaining all but the audience of this film, an artist named Tony Boffie (Owen Moore) enters their home, addressing her as Maria, a woman whose portrait he painted years ago and who has been missing for ten years. Zara suddenly decides to leave with Tony, leaving the Count in a snit.
Zara and Tony go to Italy where, it turns out, a certain Bruno Varelli (Melvyn Douglas) has been pining for his wife Maria for the past ten years. It appears that Maria had disappeared in the confusion of the Austrian invasion of Italy during Word War I. Zara has no recollection of her former life, yet she tries to meld in to this life that everyone but she recalls. It is also clear that her husband is still besotted by her, despite the long, lost years.
As time passes, Zara, now Maria, begins to look more and more like the woman that Tony Boffie painted, as some of the melancholia seems to leave her. Then, a series of twists and turns, as well as a malicious attempt by Count Salter to reclaim his former lover, turn the Varelli household upside down. The moment of truth has finally arrived.
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Format: VHS Tape
In some instances it is difficult to believe the story and to make sense of the plot, however, just for the fashion alone, this is worth seeing. Garbo is her dramatic self, over acting in many instances, but for the day it was appropriate. She exudes her dramatic flair that is so typical and why she is so loved. But the fashion is dynamite.
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Format: VHS Tape
Lore has it that this is the only time Garbo appears as a bleached blonde. This is one of my favorite films of all time & contains one of the sexiest love scenes I have ever seen - one passionate kiss that ranks in the top five kisses on film that I have ever seen. A MUST see for the Garbo or any period film fan. Yes she is the Drama Queen and overplays every line but no one does it as well as Garbo matter of fact her over-acting is refreshing in the face of all the under-acting we see nowadays. This film will surely be out of print soon so order it NOW.
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By A Customer on October 3, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
I'm nuts about Garbo. I've seen 16 Garbo films, including 3 of the Silents. This was by far the least interesting I've yet seen. Typically, Garbo's mere presence makes a movie worthwhile, but this is an exception. It's odd to see Garbo as a blonde in the beginning of the film, but she is her usual alluring self. Unfortunatly, as the movie progresses, the plot stalls and Garbo's character is passive and uninteresting. It's not HER acting that disappoints; It's the dull plot and bored Melvyn Douglas as Garbo's hubby. Even if you love Garbo, this is still a movie you can miss or wait until it shows up on Turner Classic Movies. For an early Garbo talkie unexpected treat, try "Romance".
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Pirandello's "As You Desire Me" was both dumbed-down from the intellectually abstract play, and yet also very well fleshed out to transition it from the stage to the screen. It was also clearly written for the "Garbo" figure that had been created.
The first thing most reviewers comment on is Garbo's "horrible blonde wig". I question that this is a wig. If you are an afficionado of hair & costumes on film, the film was most likely shot out of sequence, in this order: Act 2 was shot with her normal "pageboy" hair, Act 3 was shot with her hair cut short, and Act 1 had the same short haircut with her hair bleached. (She took more than a year off after this movie.) And if I shot this film in this order, I'd be tired, too... it would leave you with a sour taste. Act 1 is very silly, and Eric Von Stoheim demonstrates with the overplaying of every line why he did not transition well to the more subtle art of the talkie.
In the first act of this film Garbo does a cheap imitation of her on-screen persona, as a backstage lush and libertine. The character is as unflattering and lazy as the costume of tights is unflattering and just, well, odd. While she is supposedly working in a dive, the place pictured is nearly an opera-house. The voice to represent her singing would better have come from Helen Hayes, it was a bad vocal match, but this was early talkies, so that can be excused.
Despite all this, the transition from play to film goes very well overall, it is a lovely friligree that allows Garbo her usual angst, but also a lightness. While I don't find Melvin Douglas attractive, she clearly enjoies working with him, as she did later in NINOTCHKA. (A much better film for him.
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