Romance (1930): Garbo’s Second, Oscar-Nominated Talkie, Playing Opera Singer

In her second talkie, Romance (following “Anna Christie”), Garbo appears as a famous Italian opera singer who falls for a young priest (played by Gavin Gordon).

She had been the kept woman of an older man (Lewis Stone).  Tragedy occurs, when she tells her wealthy patron of her new love, and the priest misinterprets it as a liaison, causing him to terminate the affair.

“Romance” is told from the POV of the priest, while looking back on his early life.

Garbo and director Clarence Brown received Oscar nominations, but did not win (see below).   Even by standards of the time, “Romance” was too verbose and stiff.  Too bad that the priest is poorly played by Gavin Gordon, who was not really a leading man.

Oscar Nominations: 2

Director: Clarence Brown

Actress: Greta Garbo

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

The winner of the Best Actress Oscar was Norma Shearer for “The Divorcee.”  Despite great performance and several nominations, Garbo had never won a legit, competitive Oscar.

Lewis Milestone won the Best Director for “All Quiet on the Western Front,” which also received best Picture.

Brown, one of MGM’s most reliable filmmakers, and a frequent director of Garbo pictures, is one of the Academy’s greatest losers, having been nominated five times, including “Anna Christie” (advertised as “Garbo Talks!”).