Flesh and the Devil (1926) Review

Flesh and the Devil (1926) Director: Clarence Brown


Flesh and the Devil is one of the great MGM Greta Garbo films, based on a novel called the Undying Past by Hermann Sudermann. The film begins like a light-hearted comedy, but quickly becomes a heavy romantic film. It is a long film but includes some beautiful scenery of rural Germany and German castles, but the film is ultimately made relevant by Greta Garbo.

It takes place in Germany telling the story of two best childhood friends, Leo and Ulrich, blood brothers, who grow and become German soldiers together. Upon returning home, they attend a ball and Leo falls in love with an exotic woman, Felicitas, who is revealed to be the wife of a powerful count only after she and Leo start an affair. Leo and the Count duel, and when Leo kills the Count he is then punished by the German army and exiled to Africa for five years. However when he returns, he is horrified to find that his best friend Ulrich has married Felicitas. In the end, the two friends duel, but before they can begin Felicitas falls through the ice and drowns.

Amazingly, throughout the film the romance between Leo and Felicitas was not faked, because Greta Garbo and John Gilbert had fallen in love behind the scenes.

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