Did John Gilbert’s Voice Translate So Poorly to “Talkies” That His Career Was Ruined?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: John Gilbert’s voice translated so poorly to “talkies” that his career was ruined.

As established in a previous installment of Movie Legends Revealed, John Gilbert was one of the major male sex symbols of the silent movie era.

However, once films began having dialogue in them, Gilbert’s star waned, and by the time he died of a heart attack in 1936 (not even 40 years old) his time as a matinee idol was over.

For years, the story goes that in his first “talkie” (a film with spoken dialogue), His Glorious Night, in 1929, his light tenor voice made him sound like a squeaky kid, and not the red-blooded Lothario his fans all expected him to be.

Is the story true?
Continue reading “Did John Gilbert’s Voice Translate So Poorly to “Talkies” That His Career Was Ruined?”

Did an Early Film Version of Anna Karenina Have Two Endings, One Happy and One Sad?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: An early film adaptation of Anna Karenina contained two versions of the ending, one happy and one sad.

The 1927 silent film, Love, is a great example as to how little regard Hollywood often has for its source material.

Greta Garbo and John Gilbert starred together in the 1926 silent film blockbuster, Flesh and the Devil, where Gilbert plays a man driven practically to madness with his desire for Garbo. At the time, Garbo and Gilbert began a real-life, very public romance.

In 1927, Garbo went through various machinations to get Gilbert on to her next film, which was an adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel, Anna Karenina (Garbo was “sick” for months until the studio both gave her a raise and replaced her initial co-star for the film with Gilbert). The sad melodrama of the ill-fated lovers of Anna Karenina (Anna and Vronsky, who are torn apart by the fact that they fell in love while Anna was married to the heartless Senator Karenine) perfectly fit the melodrama of Flesh and the Devil.

The working title for the film was Heat, but it was changed to Love.

While it was never said explicitly that this was the reason behind the change, it does seem likely that the tagline “John Gilbert and Greta Garbo in Heat” probably was at least a partial reason for making the change from that title, while on the other hand, “John Gilbert and Greta Garbo in Love” is an absolutely brilliant tagline, given their very notorious romance.

What’s also notorious about the film is what they did to Tolstoy’s novel.
Continue reading “Did an Early Film Version of Anna Karenina Have Two Endings, One Happy and One Sad?”