L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i



Sunday, October 18, 2020

Swedes on board - Great Garbo and Nils Asther in "The Single Standard", 1929



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Garbo arrived in Hollywood in 1925; Asther two years later. Sometimes referred to as "the male Greta Garbo" because of his nationality and his epicene beauty, Asther made two films with Garbo in 1929, "Wild Orchids" and "the Single Standard". Having know each other previously in Sweden - both had been mentored by director Mauritz Stiller - the gay Asther and bisexual Garbo became good friends for a time, even vacationing together. In his posthumously published - and quite unreliable - memoirs, Asther claimed to have proposed marriage to Garbo on three separate occasions. With no doubts regarding his sexuality - or her own? - she understandably refused.


4 comments:

  1. I love that there's always something new to discover, like Nils Asther. Thanks to you, I gave him a quick internet lookup and I'm getting a sense that he was deliberately erased. But I suspect there are hundreds, if not thousands, of stories are mimic his to a degree in film history.

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    1. So happy to have sent you down the rabbit hole! I certainly hold that there are innumerable LGBQT people in film history that were "left out of the party", as it were, for that very reason. By I also wonder about that group of actors who began late in the Silent era, made the transition to sound, but whose careers didn't last past the early Thirties. The films of the very late Twenties and early Thirties, the "Pre-Code" era, are only now really beginning to be appreciated I think. There are some masterpieces from that period, certainly, but there are also a lot of things that are so bland and awkward as to be nearly unwatchable. I really wonder if we'd much remember Shearer or Crawford, Cooper or Cagney if their careers, their starring roles, had dried up by 1933, as Asther's essentially did. And then he eventually disappeared back to Sweden. His career contemporary, the delightful William Haines, was drummed out of the business for being gay, but he stuck around and made a name for himself as an interior designer and he's remembered. (Sadly, pretty much - only - for being gay and losing his acting career....) But it's such an interesting question about who gets remembered and why. We recently watched some of Marion Davies' early "Talkies", and she was brilliant. Funny, charismatic. But she only gets remembered, incorrectly, as being an inspiration for the second wife in "Citizen Kane", and not for her wonderful acting. All that said, most Hollywood historians still seem to have a problem acknowledging just how GAY old Hollywood really was!

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  2. I've always adored the fifth photo of Garbo and Asther. If ever anyone wanted a photo of two beautiful people, then look no further. It was a delight to see these photos. I've never seen this movie and hope to be able to do so one day soon! As always, I love your posts! Keep them coming.

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    1. Thank you! We - unexpectedly - watched the film for the first time last night; I had no idea it would be available. It was really rather good. Quite modern in its sexual morés, its exploration of the issue of gender equality. And, yes, they certainly were a beautiful pair...!

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