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Film / The Kiss (1929)

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The Kiss (1929) is a late-silent era film directed by Jacques Feyder, starring Greta Garbo. Garbo is Irene Guarry, the unhappy young wife of rich and quite a bit older Charles Garry. She is carrying on an affair with lawyer Andre Dubail (Conrad Nagel), and offers to run away with him, but Andre declines, not wishing Irene to suffer the social stigma of a public affair. They break up, but in the meantime Irene is being pestered by Pierre Lasalle (Lew Ayres, who the next year would star in All Quiet on the Western Front), the college-boy son of one of Charles's friends. Bored, unhappy Irene indulges young Pierre's ardor a little bit, and in one weak moment lets him kiss her—with disastrous consequences.

The Kiss was the last silent film for Greta Garbo, the last silent film for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and in fact probably the last silent film released by any of the major Hollywood studios, although there would be scattered examples in the years to come released by independents like Charlie Chaplin and F.W. Murnau. MGM was late to the talkie revolution, and they were especially hesitant with Garbo, due to her heavy Swedish accent. Those fears proved unfounded when her talking debut Anna Christie became a big hit, and Garbo remained popular for years.

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The film as it currently exists runs for only 62 minutes; apparently some 27 minutes were cut after its original run, which is why the third act is so abrupt.


Tropes:

  • Blatant Lies:
    • Irene insisting in court that she was a "faithful wife."
    • Pierre's father lies on the stand, saying that he refused to help Charles with his financial difficulties. This is because he doesn't want his son's involvement in the affair to be revealed.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • A literal example in the case of the gun that is shown in Charles's desk.
    • Also Charles's stomach pains, established in an early scene. That's why he comes home early and catches Irene with Pierre.
  • Flashback: The shooting is not shown onscreen—not until the end, anyway, when Irene tells Andre the truth via flashback.
  • Instant Mystery, Just Delete Scene: Charles seems to be about to beat Pierre to death, Irene is trying to pull Charles off of Pierre, the door swings shut, and a shot rings out. We don't find out how Charles got shot until the end.
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  • Kubrick Stare: A scary one from Charles after seeing Irene and Pierre kiss.
  • Likes Older Women: Fresh-faced college boy Pierre becomes obsessed with sexy older woman Irene. (Although in Real Life Garbo was only three years older than Ayres.)
  • Love Dodecahedron: Irene, Irene's husband, Irene's boyfriend, and Irene's younger boy toy.
  • Neck Lift: Charles is not at all happy to catch Irene and Pierre kissing.
  • Oh, Crap!: A pretty fun one from Pierre when he sees Charles advancing with murder in his eyes.
  • The Reveal: Irene shot Charles, because Charles was about to murder Pierre.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Pierre sneaks into the Guarry mansion to see Irene. Even at the end, after he narrowly averted being implicated in a murder, he thinks that Irene will go away with him. (Of course, the passion with which Irene kissed him indicates that his feelings weren't completely unrequited.)
  • Trophy Wife: Irene clearly serves an ornamental function for Charles.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Irene is carrying on an affair with Andre.
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