Strikingly glamorous and famously inscrutable, Greta Garbo managed, in 16 short years, to infiltrate the world's subconscious; the end of her film career, when she was 36, only made her more irresistible. Garbo appeared in just 24 Hollywood movies, yet her impact on the world—and that indescribable, transcendent presence she possessed—was rivaled only by Marilyn Monroe's. She was looked on as a unique phenomenon, a sphinx, a myth, the most beautiful woman in the world, but in reality she was a Swedish peasant girl, uneducated, naïve, and always on her guard. When she arrived in Hollywood, aged 19, she spoke barely a word of English and was completely unprepared for the ferocious publicity that quickly adhered to her as, almost overnight, she became the world's most famous actress.
Gottlieb seems for this project to have consumed everything written in English about Garbo and her circle ... Garbo’s Hollywood films are the heart of the book, and Gottlieb pithily describes all the star vehicles she was paid handsomely to push uphill ... Gottlieb’s critiques of the finished films hold them to today’s standards of watchability while appreciating their old-school charms ... Gottlieb evinces sympathy and fondness for Garbo.
Countless books have been written about Greta Garbo since her self-imposed exile in the 1940s, yet this comprehensive biography may be the final word ... Gottlieb’s research is so complete and his style so engaging that this book almost reads like an oral biography told through a singular voice ... This is a brilliantly written and constructed portrait of a true icon of the cinema.
Searching and sensitive ... A lengthy "Garbo reader" full of excerpts and articles about her rounds out Gottlieb's perfectly paced account...and the wealth of photos is a plus. The result is a masterful look at an elusive Hollywood giant.