Cast & Crew
After her sister Olga marries and leaves home, Katrin Koerber, the daughter of an Austrian medical professor, fights loneliness and dreams of a more exciting life outside Austria. Consequently, when Dr. Walter Fane, a British bacteriologist, asks her to marry him and move to Hong Kong, she agrees, even though she is not in love with him. As soon as the newlyweds arrive in Hong Kong, however, Walter becomes subsumed in his medical work, and Katrin becomes the romantic target of Jack Townsend, the unhappily married attaché to the British embassy. While showing her the city's exotic sights, Jack flirts with Katrin and kisses her. Katrin, unnerved by Jack's actions, retreats to her house, but soon rejoins him to observe local dancers performing at a Buddhist festival. Stimulated by the dancing and the atmosphere of a Buddhist temple, Jack confesses his love to Katrin, and Katrin admits that she is not in love with Walter. At home, Katrin then treats Walter coolly and reveals that his chronic lateness and fatigue annoy her. To make amends, Walter comes home early the next day, but discovers Katrin's bedroom door locked and Jack's hat on a table. That evening, Walter confronts Katrin with his suspicions, and she admits that she loves Jack. Distraught, Walter tells Katrin that he will grant her a divorce only if Jack promises in writing that he will divorce his wife and marry her. When Katrin presents Walter's conditions to Jack, he tells her that a divorce would ruin both his career and his reputation and backs out of the affair. Heartbroken, Katrin reluctantly accompanies Walter to an inland region of China, where a cholera epidemic is raging. While Walter struggles to arrest the epidemic, Katrin grows more and more despondent and lonely. Seeing Katrin's desperate condition, Walter finally offers to send her back to Hong Kong, then prepares to leave for a remote river village that has been identified as the root of the epidemic. After Walter has left, Jack realizes his genuine love for Katrin and leaves Hong Kong for the inland. Walter, who has ordered the infected village burned, then returns from the village and is overjoyed to find Katrin helping young cholera victims at an orphanage. In the chaos, Walter is stabbed, and Katrin rushes to be near him. While waiting to see her husband, Katrin is confronted by Jack, but tells him that she now loves only Walter and at last understands the sacrifices he makes for medicine. After Jack departs, Katrin assures the wounded Walter that she at last has fallen in love with him.
Hans Von Morhart
W. H. Davis
Flora Finch Becker
Y. C. Shui
Toshia Mori Jung
Charles Teske Dancers
Edwin B. Willis
The Painted Veil
Garbo enjoyed both Herbert Marshall, who played her husband, and George Brent, who played her lover. Her biographer, Barry Paris, wrote that during filming she "was more sociable than usual, frequently lingering on the set to converse with Marshall, [or] share a laugh with Brent..."Marshall was impressed with her kindness, later recalling that during some rain-drenched crowd scenes Garbo "displayed keen concern for several elderly ladies in the mob, actresses who had been more important at another time."
Garbo was intrigued by Brent, who was dubbed "the male edition of Garbo" by the Hollywood press because of his athleticism and love of solitude. The two formed a close friendship, visiting secluded restaurants and having quiet dinners at Brent's home -- where they sometimes boxed in the backyard! Rumors spread that they were having a torrid love affair. Brent reportedly told friends he was in love with Garbo and wanted to marry her. But Garbo entertained no such ideas, and Brent was completely out of her life within a couple of years.
As The Painted Veil was released, MGM's publicity department sent a letter to theater owners promising that "This is THE Garbo of your fondest memories -- of live, pulse-quickening memory -- This woman is of warm flesh and warmer blood -- of desire -- and the courage to life and love and adventure." But the movie proved too exotic for Depression era audiences and did not do well at the box office. Two decades later, Eleanor Parker took on the Garbo role in a remake entitled The Seventh Sin (1957).
Producer: Hunt Stromberg
Director: Richard Boleslawski
Screenplay: John Meehan, Salka Viertel, Edith Fitzgerald, from novel by W. Somerset Maugham
Cinematography: William H. Daniels
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons
Original Music: Herbert Stothart
Editing: Hugh Wynn
Costume Design: Adrian
Cast: Greta Garbo (Katrin Koerber Fane), Herbert Marshall (Dr. Walter Fane), George Brent (Jack Townsend), Warner Oland (General Yu), Jean Hersholt (Herr Koerber), Cecilia Parker (Olga Koerber).
BW-85m. Closed captioning.
by Roger Fristoe
The Painted Veil
Because some preview reviewers felt the opening scenes were much too drawn out, the film was cut and some retakes were made.
Most contemporary reviewers list Beulah Bondi in the role of Frau Koerber, but Bodil Rosing is credited onscreen and is in the movie. She probably replaced Bondi in the retakes. Similarly, Billy Bevan was replaced by 'von Moorhart, Hans' .
Background shots in China supervised by George W. Hill was also used in Good Earth, The (1937).
Greta Garbo's name appears above the title as just "Garbo." Before Richard Boleslavsky (whose name is spelled Boleslawski in the onscreen credits) was hired as director, Victor Fleming and Rouben Mamoulian were considered for the job, according to Hollywood Reporter news items. Hollywood Reporter news items from June 1934 state that director George Hill shot footage in China for use in this film and in The Good Earth, a picture that M-G-M eventually produced and released in 1937. Two months after returning from China, Hill committed suicide. It is not known how much, if any, of Hill's footage was used in The Painted Veil. An August 1932 Hollywood Reporter news item announced Joan Crawford as the star of the picture. Preston Foster was announced as a cast member in July 1934 Hollywood Reporter news items, but soon was replaced by George Brent, whom the studio considered to be a more convincing Englishman than Foster. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, M-G-M built a replica of an ancient Chinese temple at their Culver City lot. After the film had its preview, the studio ordered re-takes and shortened the running time by several minutes, according to Motion Picture Herald. The beginning of the story, which some reviewers had criticized as being too drawn out, apparently was re-shot and shortened. Although most reviews list Beulah Bondi in the role of "Frau Koerber," Bodil Rosing actually appeared in the part in the final film and is given onscreen credit. It is possible that Rosing, whose character appears in the beginning of the story, replaced Bondi in the re-takes. Daily Variety gives the film's preview running time as 76 minutes, but this time is probably incorrect.
According to files in the MPPA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, Harry Warner of Warner Bros. objected to the filming of W. Somerset Maugham's novel because he believed that members of the MPPDA had agreed years before that it was not suitable movie material. Will Hays, president of the MPPDA, responded to Warner's complaints by stating that, as only two members of the board had objected to the novel in the MPPDA's October 31, 1930 Resolution, the story was acceptable from a Code standpoint. Although Hollywood Reporter reported in 1947 that M-G-M was planning to remake Painted Veil with Greer Garson, the second M-G-M version of Maugham's novel was not produced until 1957, when Ronald Neame directed Eleanor Parker and George Sanders in The Seventh Sin. Another adaptation of Maugham's novel was released in 2006. That version, also entitled The Painted Veil, was directed by John Curran and starred Naomi Watts and Edward Norton.
Released in United States 1934
Released in United States 1934