Anna Christie (1930)

  • Year: 1930
  • Released: 21 Feb 1930
  • Country: United States
  • Adwords: Nominated for 3 Oscars. 1 win & 3 nominations total
  • IMDb:
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  • Metacritics:
  • Available in: 720p, 1080p,
  • Language: English
  • MPA Rating: Passed
  • Genre: Drama, Romance
  • Runtime: 89 min
  • Writer: Frances Marion, Eugene O’Neill
  • Director: Clarence Brown
  • Cast: Greta Garbo, Charles Bickford, George F. Marion
  • Keywords: prostitute, based on play or musical, sailor, pre-code,

Anna Christie Storyline

Old sailor Chris Christofferson eagerly awaits the arrival of his grown daughter Anna, whom he sent at five years old to live with relatives in Minnesota. He has not seen her since, but believes her to be a decent and respectably employed young woman. When Anna arrives, however, it is clear that she has lived a hard life in the dregs of society, and that much of spirit has been extinguished. She falls in love with a young sailor rescued at sea by her father, but dreads to reveal to him the truth of her past. Both father and young man are deluded about her background, yet Anna cannot quite bring herself to allow them to remain deluded.—Jim Beaver

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Anna Christie Movie Reviews

“Give me a whiskey, ginger ale on the side, and don’t be stingy, Baby.”

Garbo’s first speaking line, and it must have been thrilling to have such a tremendous foreign star able to make that transition from silent to sound.

The movie is “Annie Christie,” the year is 1930, and it is an adaptation of the play by Eugene O’Neill. It concerns a young farm woman, Anna, from Minnesota who comes to New York to find her father, whom she hasn’t seen in 15 years. Molested some time earlier, she hates men and has prostituted herself.

Her father takes her on his barge, and she comes to love the sea. One day, they rescue a young man (Charles Bickford), and he and Anna fall in love. However, neither he nor her father know anything of her past.

Garbo is very beautiful and her command of English is amazing. You can tell that she understands every word she is saying, just as you can tell when some actors have learned their role by rote. She acquits herself very well.

Marie Dressler as Marthy, a friend of her father’s whom Anna meets in a bar, is marvelous, playing each scene as a drunk. And you really think she is. As someone wrote, you can smell the alcohol on her breath.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that this is a very difficult film to watch. Sound and dealing with the camera when you have sound was all very new. The camera didn’t move around so it is a very static movie. The actors have several scenes where they all talk at once.

An acting teacher once said, “Eugene O’Neill was our greatest novelist.” The actors don’t just talk at once, they talk incessantly. There is no action to be had.

I love Eugene O’Neill, I have seen his plays on stage. This film is 85 years old, and it shows.

Definitely worth seeing, however. After all, “Garbo talks!”

Garbo Rocks

This is an amazingly well-filmed early talkie adaptation of the Eugene O’Neill play. Its major drawback is a static camera, and as a result it comes off much of the time as the filmed play it is, which is a pity, for it’s a good piece of primitive moviemaking, made at a time when sound was posing all kinds of technical problems, and as a result most films were experimental whether or not this was their maker’s intention. Garbo is as mysterious and charismatic as she was in her silent films, and her entrance is still classic. Her voice is strangely deep, almost boyish, which only enhances her already seductively eccentric persona. As her boyfriend, Charles Bickford is appropriately virile,–he was apparently born craggy–and a perfect counterpart to the divine Garbo. His Irish brogue is not bad at all, and he seems always a natural man of the sea, very O’Neill-like in his independent, brooding nature. As Garbo’s (very) confused father, George Marion seems truly from another time. He has the sort of face and voice,–open, unmannered, totally without guile–that has vanished from the earth. Marie Dressler is also in the O’Neill swing of things. Her blank expression and intensity around the eyes speaks volumes, as she plays her boozy character as a woman at times bordering on psychosis. Poetic license, perhaps, as this is not in the script, but we can forgive Miss Dressler’s excesses; she is too good at it not to. The story ends with a movement to the next thing, as distinct from resolution, which isn’t the author’s cup of tea; and those who like their films neatly worked out in the end will be disappointed by the absence of any real surprise. In Anna Christie we are in O’Neill country, a place of sea, storms and fog, a feeling of all-pervading and damnable uncertainty, which we would now call ambivilance, or anxiety neurosis. Rather than analyze this mood the author simply and wisely presents it, as weather, land, ocean and people intertwine and address one another in a unique language we feel priveleged to have heard.

Redemption Through Love

In New York, the alcoholic skipper of a coal barge Chris Christofferson (George F. Marion) receives a letter from his estranged twenty year old daughter Anna “Christie” Christofferson (Greta Garbo) telling that she will leave Minnesota to stay with him. Chris left Anna fifteen years ago to the countryside to be raised by relatives in a farm in St. Paul and he has never visited his daughter.

Anna Christie arrives and she is a wounded woman with a hidden dishonorable past since she had worked for two years in a brothel to survive. She moves to the barge to live with her father and one night, Chris rescues the sailor Matt (Charles Bickford) and two other fainted sailors from the sea. Soon Anna and Matt fall in love with each other and Anna has the best days of her life. But when Matt proposes to marry her, she is reluctant and also haunted by her past. Matt insists and Anna opens her heart to Matt and to her father disclosing the darks secrets of her past.

“Anna Christie” is the first talkie of Greta Garbo and a heartbreaking story of a young woman that finds redemption through love. I bought the DVD with both versions of 1930 and 1931, and the version in English is restored and has additional scenes in the beginning and in the ending; however, Jacques Feyder’s version in German is better than Clarence Brown’s. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): “Anna Christie”