Customer Rating: Summary: Ok movie..I give it 4 stars for Garbo's allure Comment: Of all of Garbo's movies I've seen to date, this film may be the one with the "weakest" plot, but her presence & allure are worth the watch. For example, although "Anna Christie" (another early '30s) was a more "static" early talkie, nevertheless, I think "Anna..." is a better film (especially the german version).
Notwithstanding, she makes a good couple with a young Robert Montgomery-you believe they're in love- and she gets to wear some very beautiful Adrian designed outfits as Yvonne "The Toast of Paris". Good acting by Lewis Stone, Karen Morley and Marjorie Rambeau.
If you are a Garbo fan you have to give it a try, but if aren't and you want to watch her at her very best, watch "Camille", "Queen Christina", "Grand Hotel", "Anna Karenina", "Ninotchka"... even "Mata Hari", an early thirties' in which the romantic plot works as well as in "Inspiration" (Ramon Novarro makes good match with her too), but the background story that "surrounds" it and the plot in all, is much more intriguing & entertaining.
I have to agree with the other reviewer in that the transfer is so-so, especially if you compare this 1931 flick with that same year's "Mata Hari".
But, for Romance alone, this film is good. Customer Rating: Summary: High Life in Paris MGM Style Comment: Following her first sound film, the box office hit Anna Christie, Greta Garbo made six films for MGM in a period of 24 months. But in the words of John Bainbridge in his still readable study of Garbo's career (1955), "None added much to her reputation. Only 'the greatest living actress' could have survived the banality of most." Inspiration, one of the lesser items in the series, deals with the rising and falling fortunes of Yvonne (Greta Garbo), the "inspiration" for a circle of affluent Parisian artists. But when she encounters the young Andre (Robert Montgomery), she recognizes true love and abandons the demimonde. Sadly, however, Andre, a contemptible twit who comes from a respectable bourgeois family, is being groomed for the foreign service and abandons Yvonne when he learns of her past. At the conclusion, just as he is on the verge of marriage, Andre returns to her, but Yvonne, far nobler than he, renounces him and while he sleeps steals off with a former lover who has just come out of prison.
Inspiration was adapted by Gene Markey from the short novel Sappho by Alphonse Daudet--uncredited--written in 1884, which has more than passing similarities to Camille by Dumas fils. But Markey updated the story to the present time, with the unintended effect of making these bohemian antics seem wildly anachronistic--after all, this was the Paris of James Joyce, Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau and the surrealists, not to mention Getrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway, and not the playground of superannuated roues posing as bohemians. But if the film would have seemed ludicrous to anyone familiar with the contemporary European art scene, it is even harder to fathom what audiences here would have made out of it at a moment when most American males were more worried about where their next meal was coming from rather than about where they could latch onto a poule de luxe.
Inspiration is emphatically a pre-Code production, and anyone still suffering from the false impression that MGM was a goody-goody studio in the early 1930s may find the picture an eye-opener. (In an early scene a cab driver brags about one of his lady fares granting him her favors after he takes her to her house.) But the main reason for watching Inspiration today is not to peek at a salacious curiosity but to worship at the shrine of the most unique leading lady in American cinema history. Garbo did not so much transcend a movie like this as she transformed it altogether, and the emotional intensity she brought to a role like this rivaled the fabled skill of any alchemist in changing dreck into gold. At the end, after she has penned her farewell letter to Andre, she silently pauses for a moment before parting, and the gamut of emotions that plays over her face has the electric force of a revelation.
A vehicle for a great star was as much of a genre as the western or the musical, and Metro lavished its resources on Garbo with the same abandon that Yvonne's admirers lavish their bank accounts on her. William Daniels photographed the picture, Cedric Gibbons designed the sets, and Gilbert Adrian contributed the costumes. Sadly, Garbo did not get as much of an assist from her fellow performers, especially the men. Although Lewis Stone is appropriately villainous as the cruel Delval--whose discarded mistress commits suicide by jumpimg out a window and falling at his feet--the indefatigably stuffy Robert Montgomery takes a rather unsympathetic character and succeeds in making him even more obnoxious.
Although the video is not a digital transfer, MGM/UA has done a reasonable job of manufacturing. Nevertheless, the materials used for the video do not seem to have been very well preserved, and the optical quality is often disappointing--scratches and cinch marks show up throughout the picture, which often has quite a washed-out look in comparison to Mata Hari or Grand Hotel, both from the same period as Inspiration.