Garbo Talks (1984)

Garbo Talks (1984)

Taglines: Sometimes you can catch a star…

Estelle is a one-person protest army: she goes to jail over grocery prices, shames construction workers for catcalls to passing women, and won’t cross a picket line for her son’s wedding. She also loves Garbo films: when she learns she has a brain tumor and six months to live, she decides she must meet Garbo.

Her dutiful son Gilbert, a Manhattan accountant named for Garbo’s co-star, hires a paparazzo to show him Garbo’s flat, stakes it out, gets a job delivering food there, seeks her on Fire Island, and tracks her to a Sixth Avenue flea market. As his obsession distances him from his wife, he’s drawn to a struggling actress he meets at work. Can he find Garbo; if so, will she talk?

Garbo Talks is a 1984 American comedy-drama film directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Anne Bancroft, Ron Silver and Carrie Fisher, with a cameo appearance by Betty Comden as Greta Garbo. The movie was written by Larry Grusin and also stars Catherine Hicks and Steven Hill. It also featured the final screen appearance of veteran actor Howard Da Silva. Bancroft was nominated for a Golden Globe.

Greta Garbo’s low, husky voice and Swedish accent was first heard on screen in Eugene O’Neill’s Anna Christie (1930), which was publicized with the slogan “Garbo Talks.” Despite many favorable reviews from critics, the film failed at the box office.

Garbo Talks (1984)

About the Story

Estelle Rolfe’s (Anne Bancroft) social activism and quick temper cause a lot of inconvenience for her grown son Gilbert, who often must go to a New York City jail precinct to pay her bail.

Gilbert is willing to go to great lengths for his mother, though, after a doctor’s examination diagnoses a terminal brain tumor. Estelle’s last wish is to meet the movie star she has idolized all her life, the reclusive Greta Garbo.

Lisa Rolfe (Carrie Fisher) sympathizes, but when husband Gilbert abandons his job to devote his days to the search for Garbo, she can’t take it anymore and abandons him. An aspiring actress in Gilbert’s office, Jane Mortimer, takes a liking to Gilbert and a romantic interest seems entirely possible, but first comes Gilbert’s increasingly futile search for a famous woman who does not care to be found.

Leads eventually take Gilbert to an elderly actress, Elizabeth, who once knew Garbo, and to an aging paparazzo, Angelo, who is somewhat acquainted with Garbo’s habits and whereabouts, but neither is able to get Gilbert to her. Estelle’s estranged husband, Walter, visits the hospital to say an emotional goodbye.

With little time to spare, Gilbert is finally able to meet Garbo face-to-face and explain his mother’s situation. Without a word, Garbo goes straight to Estelle’s hospital room for a bedside chat, where Estelle herself ends up doing all of the talking.

Gilbert is at peace with how his mother’s life came to an end. As he strolls with Jane in the park, she and others are startled by the sight of Garbo walking by. Even more startling to Jane is when Garbo catches a glimpse of Gilbert and says hello.

Garbo Talks Movie Poster (1984)

Garbo Talks (1984)

Directed by: Sidney Lumet
Starring: Anne Bancroft, Ron Silver, Carrie Fisher, Catherine Hicks, Steven Hill, Howard Da Silva, Dorothy Loudon, Hermione Gingold
Screenplay by: Larry Grusin
Production Design by: Philip Rosenberg
Cinematography by: Andrzej Bartkowiak
Film Editing by: Andrew Mondshein
Costume Design by: Anna Hill Johnstone
et Decoration by: Philip Smith
Music by: Cy Coleman
Distributed by: Metro Goldwyn Mayer, United Artists
Release Date: October 12, 1984