ALLA NAZIMOVA in Camille (1921)
GRETA GARBO in Camille (1936)
For our money, Nazimova's modernized take on Dumas' lady of the camillas outpaces the better known, more widely-viewed Garbo version. The sets and costumes (and hairstyles!) in the Nazimova picture (set in the then-present 1920's, rather than the 19th century) are extravagant, outrageous, opulent - yet sleek, stylized, and never the focal point of the action. They're the perfect glass-and-lacquer background for the star's over-the-top mannerisms and spellbinding, hypnotic presence; and provide a icily modern foil for the operatic pathos of Dumas' tragic love story. By contrast, the 1936 version fairly smothers you with lace and crinolines and velvets and period detail. And, studying the photos above and below, which star looks more like a wasted, wasting courtesan?