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Mata Hari [VHS]

3.9 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews


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$6.99 & FREE Shipping on orders over $49. Details Only 1 left in stock. Sold by shopWOOP! and Fulfilled by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.


Product Details

  • Actors: Greta Garbo, Ramon Novarro, Lionel Barrymore, Lewis Stone, C. Henry Gordon
  • Directors: George Fitzmaurice
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: MGM (Warner)
  • VHS Release Date: September 1, 1998
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6301972252
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #328,678 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

She's a household name that conjures up international intrigue and wartime espionage, predatory sexuality and fatal passion. So how is it that none of the several movies titled Mata Hari is very satisfying? This Greta Garbo vehicle is much less interesting than the 1931 Sternberg-Dietrich film Dishonored (whose doomed spy lady went by the name X-27). The divine Swede plays the Javanese-Dutch exotic dancer who romances a Russian aviator in perfumed Paris on behalf of German intelligence. It's typical that the Balinese temple harness Garbo almost wears in the first nightclub number looks sexier in stills than it does in motion: Mata Hari is less a film than the idea for a film. George Fitzmaurice's direction is static, silent-era holdover Ramon Navarro makes a cookie-dough leading man, and the feisty Karen Morley (as Mata's secret-agent colleague) exits the picture much too soon. The gowns--and harness?--are by Adrian. --Richard T. Jameson

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By C. Tolley on March 20, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
Actually, the only real reason I wanted to see this picture was the alluring Greta Garbo. The woman radiates mystery, which in today's cinema is all-to-rare. She is really the best thing about this film, which is kind of cheesy in everything else. The costumes are gorgeous, the sets are well-contrived, but it's the worn story and wooden acting all around Garbo that drag this film down.
This is a Hollywood rendering of a famous spy, Mata Hari, who, on being caught, is executed by firing squad in the end. There is no faulting Garbo's contribution, as she slithers from one scene to the next, fully convincing as the ill-fated, beautiful spy. I only the rest of the cast had put forth that much effort! Ah well.
Fans of Miss Garbo will, no doubt, fully enjoy this film, as Garbo is actually very moving in her scenes. Now don't get me wrong, I actually enjoyed this film, myself. I just wish more effort could have been put forth by just a few more of her colleagues.
I give this film four stars on the basis of Garbo's unique ability to light up the screen whenever she appears, and for the glorious costumes that populate her environment. Just sit back and enjoy the visual treat that was Greta Garbo.
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Format: DVD
This seems like one of those films that sounded better on paper than in the actual finished product. The sets and costumes are gorgeous, the plot (though rather loosely based on the history behind the real Mata Hari) had a lot of potential to be interesting and gripping, and it has four big names heading the bill. Greta Garbo and Ramon Novarro are two of my favorites, and though I haven't seen him in a huge amount of films yet, I've also really enjoyed Lewis Stone in the films I have seen him in. The other big star, Lionel Barrymore, overacts as usual, though he does pull off the role well. (Though I know he was talented in spite of his tendency to overact, it's beyond me why he was once considered a better actor than his brother John.)

However, in spite of the big names, the promising storyline, and the gorgeous costumes and sets, the picture ultimately seems to fall rather flat. Perhaps part of it could be attributed to how this is after all an early talkie, made in 1931; it would take a little bit longer yet for films to lose this stagy feeling, with almost nonstop chatter, and go back to having more freedom of motion and a balance between dialogue and scenes and moments that didn't rely so heavily on constant talk. Many of these lines themselves weren't very dramatic or original, more like empty words used to fill the time. Additionally, it just didn't seem to have a whole lot of dramatic tension or to be a very compelling interesting story till it was well more than halfway over. There's also the problem of how Ramon is supposed to be portraying a Russian aviator.
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Format: DVD
Mata Hari, whose name translated loosely as "Eye of the Morning," was an eastern princess who had been immersed in dance from the moment of her birth--or so she said. In actual fact, she was Margaretha Geertruida Zelle, born to a respectable family in Leeuwarden, Holland. In 1895, with the family fortune in decline, she married Rudolf John MacLeod and with him moved to Java. The marriage was horrendously unsuccessful and the couple separated in 1903, when she returned to Europe. After a stint as everything from an artist model to a circus horseback rider, Margaretha reinvented herself through a name change, skimpy costumes, and fairly lacivious dances. Critics regarded her as a lousy dancer, but the public loved her, and she would continue her career as both dancer and courtesan for the next fourteen years, passing between lovers as freely as she passed between the theatres of Europe. During World War I, however, the combination of Mata Hari's lovers and her touring schedule brought charges of espionage. Accused passing information to Germany that caused the deaths of some fifty thousand French soliders, she was found guilty and executed by firing squad in 1917 at age 41. Much argument concerning her guilt or innocence continues to this day.

But you won't really learn much of this from the 1931 MGM film MATA HARI. The Dutch Mata Hari is played by Swedish star Greta Garbo. Mata Hari and Garbo have precisely one trait in common: neither can dance worth a damn. Where Garbo is concerned the film tries to conceal this by a mixture of costuming and "artistic" cinematography that avoids showing Garbo's legendarily large feet and works to dodge the more obvious edges of her lack of dance talent. But Garbo is hardly the only performer who is miscast.
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Format: DVD
Mata Hari was a real person, mistress of a French diplomat and a professional dancer. She was arrested by the French and executed as a German spy in 1917. Her trail was a press sensation. In addition to this film, she was played by Jeanne Moreau (1964) and Sylvia Kristel (1985).

Greta Garbo (1905-90) plays Mata Hari. She was a big silent film star and in her first talkie in 1930 (“Anna Christie”) she was nominated for an Oscar. This was her fourth talkie and a big commercial success. She is listed #5 on the AFI’s list of Greatest Actresses.

Ramon Navarro (1899-1968) plays a Russian pilot. He was the “latin lover” successor to Rudolph Valentino and very popular through the mid 30s when MGM cancelled his contract partly as a result of an early “red scare”. He achieved the apex of his fame in the silent era (“Ben Hur”, “Student Prince”) and didn’t have the same success in talkies.

The great Lionel Barrymore (1878-1954) plays a Russian General. He appeared in more than 200 films between 1908 and 1956, and was twice nominated for an Oscar, winning once (“A Free Soul” ) in 1931 Though he’s probably best known as the evil banker in “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946) and from his recurring roles in the Dr. Kildare and the Dr. Gillepsie films, he gave us many memorable performances - as the innkeeper in “Key Largo” (1948), Thaddeus Stevens in “Tennessee Johnson” (1942), Grandpa in “You Can’t Take it With You” (1938), and Billy Bones in “Treasure Island” (1934). Fans of Barrymore will enjoy watching him in his prime, before arthritis robbed him of his ability to walk.

Lewis Stone (1879-1953) plays Mata Hari’s control agent. He was a major star in the 20s and 30s and was nominated for an Oscar for “The Patriot” (1930).
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