Torrent (1926): Garbo’s First American Movie, Co-Starring Ricardo Cortez

The silent romantic melodrama, Torrent, based a novel by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez, was first American film starring Swedish actress Greta Garbo.

The title refers to a flood that occurs in the small town, where the two leading characters.

Martha Mattox plays the wealthy matriarch Doña Bernarda Brull, upset by her son Rafael  (Ricardo Cortez) infatuation with the farmer’s (Edward Connelly) daughter, Leonora (Garbo).

She forbids him to see Leonora, and the poor girl leaves her humble home for Paris, where she becomes a stage sensation, as La Brunna.

Meanwhile, back in their small Spanish town of Alzira, Valencia where Leonora’s father has died, Brull forces her son to run for office, and arranges a marriage the wealthy Remedios Matías (Gertrude Olmstead), the daughter of a rich hog farmer (Mack Swain).

But when La Brunna returns to visit her mother Pepa (Lucy Beaumont), she pretends to still be destitute. Upon finding that Leonora is the famous La Brunna,  it threatens his marriage to Remedios–until his mother intervenes once again.

After the flood, Leonora and Rafael spend a passionate night together amidst the orange groves, Doña Brull tell Pepa of the shameful scandal.

Brunna returns to her life on the stage in Madrid while Rafael marries Remedios. Shortly afterwards however, Rafael declares his undying love for her again. Thriller, she packs her bags awaiting his return. Rafael’s lawyer friend Don Andrés (Tully Marshall) talks him out of his plan.

Years later, the older Rafael visits La Brunna (while she is doing the opera “Carmen”), declaring his intent to leave his wife and children for her, but she is unwilling to be the cause of his break-up.

She hardly recognizes him due to aging, and when he comments that “the years have passed her by,” she says: “It is the business of prima donna to always remain young.”

He returns to his home looking over his sleeping little ones, while La Brunna completes another performance with her fans adoring and cheering.

In the last scene, La Brunna is sitting alone, thinking of her great love lost.

The film’s direction is attributed to Monta Bell (uncredited), though historians suggest that other MGM top executives also had a hand.

Release: February 21, 1926.

Running time: 86 Minutes

End Note:

I am grateful to TCM for showing “Torrent” on April 1, 2019.