Film Review and Rating / Synopsis

(Please note the films reviewed on this site contain plot summaries and may contain SPOILERS.)

  • Torrent (1926) - Plot Summary - A Love Story. In the springtime garden of a farmhouse in Spain, a young couple in love - the beautiful Leonora Moreno and her handsome latin lover Don Rafael Brull (Greta Garbo and Ricardo Cortez) - exchange orange blossoms. But Rafael is the son of an overbearing mother who rules the town and is just at that moment booting out Leonora and her parents from their home for money owed on the mortgage. The real reason is wicked mama wants her boy away from Leonora, who she sees as a disgrace and threat to her notions of her son's future. While she agrees Leonora's mother can stay but must "scrub for her keep", Leonora and her father are soon to be homeless and decide to head for Paris with hopes that Leonora's singing voice will make their fortune. She sends a note to Rafael to "come to her" before she leaves town, but he makes the decision to stay under his mother's "guidance", rips up the letter, and does not show up - leaving poor Leonora brokenhearted. Cut to a few years later, where a new star has emerged. Under the stage name "La Brunna", Leonora's talent has indeed taken her to fame, wealth, and stardom as an opera singer, the "idol of Paris". Back in Spain, Rafael has entered politics and has no clue what has become of the long absent Leonora or that she is, in fact, the famous La Brunna. Leonora, now a generous lady and clothes horse who sports some seriously chic attire, becomes nostalgic for home and returns to her farmhouse with clothes and gifts for her mother. Rafael has just been elected "Deputy" and sees Leonora in the crowd who have gathered for his speech, but she is quite bitter over his abandonment at her time of trouble and only laughs at him. As the days pass and he keeps turning up in her garden, she continues to mock him, but the passion is still there and begins to win out - especially after he attempts to save her life when a huge storm hits the town, causing houses to flood, ceilings to cave in, and the dam to break bringing a torrent of rushing water! Meanwhile, his mother is pushing him to become engaged to the daughter of the local "Pork King" and Rafael, forever the mama's boy it would seem, gives in. Blockhead.

    Review - Based on the novel "The Torrent" by Vicente Blasco Ibanez - this is a terrific silent film, with passionate love story brought to life by the talents of the two leads. I found the performance of Ricardo Cortez winning and believable, and Greta Garbo just bursts off the screen with star power. This was her first role in an American film and you can really see a new, brilliant movie star emerge here. And luckily we get to admire her in some really spectacular garments - she can really pull off the lavishly elaborate striped collar look. An interesting scene takes place in the Paris black and tan nightclub "The Cafe Americain", where Garbo as La Brunna enjoys the floor show and the camera close-ups on her new look as she has metamorphosed from innocent farmgirl into worldly goddess, a society Prima Donna with slicked back hair and stunning art deco gown - a visual wow. The special effects done to portray the dam breaking and flood of water are well done and realistic. This film, as screened on Turner Classic Movies channel/TCM, featured a nicely tinted print and super terrific orchestral score done by Arthur Barrow. The photography for much of this looked rather soft-focus, not sure if that was this print or the way it was originally photographed. Rating - * 9.5 to 10/10 stars *

    Director: Monta Bell
    Film Genre: Romantic Melodrama
    Film Runtime: 88 minutes

Links / Resources


10 = Absolutely Fabulous/Superb
9 = Really Good/Excellent
8 = Good
7 = Fairly Good/Decent
6 = So-so, some flaws
5 = Mediocre
4 = Not that good, many flaws
3 = Poor
2 = Very Poor/Stinker
1 = One of the worst BOMBS ever filmed

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