All Greta Garbo's key films from the talking era in one box set - only notable exception being Grand Hotel. But this is a minor complaint: it is an ensemble piece (it is included in the Joan Crawford Signature Collection where it clearly shows that young Crawford can more than hold her own in any company) and is, on balance, minor film in Garbo's career.
The films included here - just pay attention to the titles: each is named after her character. Signature collection indeed! I can't think of another star ever to have pulled off such a career proving trick, showing clearly what a huge, huge box office draw she was, and what power "The Swedish Sphinx " held over the studios as well as the public. Not bad for a shy, lanky girl who's single mother was a cleaner in Stockholm...
If you are a newcomer interested in what Garbo was all about, this is the definitive collection - it spans nearly a decade from Anna Christie, Garbo's first talkie ("Give me a Whisky, ginger ale on the side, and don' be stingy, baby"), based on Eugene O'Neil play about a daughter who seeks refuge from her life as a prostitute at her father's on the waterfront, to her penultimate film Ninotchka, a fantastic comedy with young Billy Wilder contributing to the script that has not dated one bit and leaves you craving for more out-right Garbo comedies. But I suppose that was the key to the Garbo magic on many levels - this woman knew how to leave people wanting for more.
While Mata Hari is not quite as interesting as the other films and Ninotchka gets onto most people's list of Garbo favorites, it says something of the quality on offer here that when asked to pick between Christina, Karenina and Camille, everyone seems to prefer a different film. Her performances differ too in a way that I did not expect: three films - three different women, all the harder to pull off as the films all are designed to give the world the famous Garbo,"The Face". But despite this - and her distinct accent that spells out that this is not character acting as we know it - it does not mean that Garbo would simply ride on the coattails of her star persona. Compared to someone like Crawford - who's performances only change as she herself changes over the years - Garbo gave nuanced performances with ease. Cynical Anna Christie struggles with betrayal, bitterness and shame, brisk Queen Christina refuses to bow down to fate and holds on to her independence in love and abdication, serious Anna Karenina punishes herself by allowing her life to become self-fulfilling prophesy, tolerant Camille laughs and floats over the abyss, throwing away money, health and love at slightest provocation, and judgemental Ninotchka, the incomparable realist, melts when faced with her own femininity.
If you are buying this because you already know Garbo, all you probably want to know that the transfer quality is good (although I think I have seen a better print of Ninotchka on TV years ago) and extras - although VERY few - are interesting (Anna Christie's both versions with Garbo are included, as is a silent pre-Garbo Camille with pre-Sheik Rudolph Valentino). All in all, the most satisfying classics collection that I have happened across.