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Garbo: Portraits from Her Private Collection Hardcover – August 30, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Greta Garbo's film career began in Sweden in 1923 and ended in Hollywood in 1941. While she took a professional approach to doing photographs on the sets and in the portrait studio, she did little else to aid MGM's publicity department. Traveling under false names, she avoided interviews, premieres, parties and nightclubs. With no off-screen publicity materials, the public pictured her through the lens of "MGM's portrait giants," Clarence Sinclair Bull and Ruth Harriet Louise. New York art dealer Dance, who did a book on Louise three years ago, notes that these two photographers "shaped the look and persona of Garbo that was marketed to audiences in the 1920s and 1930s and endures today." Garbo saved their lush and creamy original prints, radiating glamour, and passed the photos on to her family. The work of Bull, Louise, George Hurrell, Edward Steichen and other photographers receives lavish presentation here, along with family pictures and candid shots previously seen only by Garbo's closest friends and relatives. Reisfield, Garbo's grandnephew, covers her life from Stockholm to New York, while Dance delivers an informative essay on the image makers and their rapport with Garbo. However, even readers with good eyesight may find the faded tan typeface difficult to read. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

September 18, 2005, is the centennial of the birth of Greta Garbo, who became the archetypal movie star by being personally inaccessible (her most famous line of dialogue, from Grand Hotel, is "I want to be alone") but photographically ubiquitous. Informal images are scarce in her grandnephew Reisfield's selection from her archives: two pictures of her in train cars, two full-length snaps of her in sports clothes, two travel pictures, two press photos of public appearances, and an image of her mentor, director Mauritz Stiller, reclining with a cat. The rest are exquisite studio portraits and polished production stills, most of them taken by, respectively, her favored portraitist, Clarence Sinclair Bull, and her preferred on-set photographer, Milton Brown. The work of other hands--Bull's fellow Hollywood portraitists Ruth Harriet Louise and George Hurrell (whose approach to Garbo, Dance says in the accompanying history and assessment of the pictures, is too objective), Edward Steichen, Nicholas Muray, Cecil Beaton, and Arnold Genthe--also appears. Truly, Garbo's was the face of a century. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Rizzoli; First edition (August 30, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0847827240
  • ISBN-13: 978-0847827244
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 1.1 x 12.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #975,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By tudortwo on September 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The pictures are excellent in quality, and there are even some candid pictures of not just Greta, but her little known sister Alva. Alva died in her early 20's so it was nice to see some good pictures of her. She looked much like her sister, but she had darker hair.

I also enjoyed Scott Reisfield's account of his great-aunt Garbo. I found it interesting that this woman, who he fondly referred to as "Kata" (nickname), didn't allow it to be known that she was Garbo until he was a teenager. She even kept herself a secret from her own relatives!!

However, the true value in this book are the wonderfully reproduced pictures. If you're a Garbo fan, this is a must-have.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover
What a beautiful book this is, when I realised that they were releasing yet another 2 coffeee table books on Greta Garbo (GG.), I was a little apprehensive about buying them as I already own most of the published books on her and most have been rather overall a let down, full of the same quotes and background stuff, I thought that her life story before, during, and after her acting career was over had been fully explored. But I ordered them anyway, and I have to say this is a keeper.Its not too heavy on the bio side but has been published by the Reisfields ( her family) so it is the nearest to the real GG were ever going to find. And the rest of the book is simply STUNNING is full off quality photos of GG throughout her life, nearly all never released before, and some are quite breathtaking, I have been collecting GG stuff for years and have to say that this is the best book I have ever seen on her.BUY THIS BOOK YOU WONT BE DISAPPOINTED, its massive and very heavy ( God, I love super-saver as would have cost a fortune for this to be delivered from U.S.)and is now the gem of my collection.I am away to buy a spare as, no doubt this will be out of print soon, and will have to remorgage to buy it again, trust me its that good.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Schatze Page on August 30, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a truly beautiful book, the nicest I've seen on Garbo thus far. There's a nice combination of photos I've never seen before along with some old favorites exquisitely presented one to a page in beautiful sepia tones. The overall production values for this are exactly up to the standards you'd expect from Rizzoli. At a glace, the text doesn't seem to offer much insight, but that's not why you want this on your shelf, the pictures say far more than anything that can be written about the Garbo allure.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By John Matlock on September 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
64 years after her last movie, Greta Garbo is ranked highly among the top 100 movie stars of all time. Once voted the most beautiful woman who ever lived by the Guinness Book of World Records. Sometimes nicknamed The Face.

This book is a compilation of photographs from her private collection. While the dates all of the pictures were taken is not given, they appear to be from about 1923 to perhaps the late 40's or early 50's. The pictures were saved by Garbo and shared with her family.

Now as a celebration of the centinnial of her birth these have been collected together and mixed with short articles about her life. The articles are not the important part of this book. It is the photographs. Even across 80 years she comes across as beautiful and sexy. The do not have the look of so many pictures of that time. Here the hair style, the clothing, the photographic style is timeless. The quality of the printing of the photographs is absolutely first rate. This is a beautiful book.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Michael Hathaway on November 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Bottom line: I was disappointed.

I am a huge Garbo fan and looked forward to owning this book as soon as the public announcements came out - over 4000 photographs that Garbo personally kept. What pictures did she think enough to keep for herself?

One publicity blurb touting the book was accompanied by a candid photo of Garbo on the set of 'Two-Faced Woman' peering into a hand mirror while patting her hair into place - if that was an example of what the book had to offer, I DEFINITELY wanted it. That photo is not in the book.

There are over 200 photographs, and all of them except two I have seen before and are in print in other Garbo books I own. All of the photos have been 'antiqued' in burnished duo-tone, that I personally did not care for - I would have preferred the sharp black and white contrast of her MGM films.

Because all but two of the photos are unknown to me (and most likely you) and because they were printed in duo-tone I did not give the book five stars - only because it was Garbo did it get three. As a fan I am glad I own the book; as a general photography book of a classic Hollywood star, I own superior books, with superior photos of Garbo.
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