Movies: The Divine Woman

On her centenary, movie lovers praise and reappraise the Garbo mystique

She seems in pain, yet amused by her misery, when she confesses to John Barrymore, "I want to be alone." That line, from the 1932 Grand Hotel, was often taken as Greta Garbo's autobiographical declaration. The unique actress remained above and apart from the Hollywood community in her 16 years there, and she compounded her aloof allure when, on quitting films at age 36, she took up residence in Manhattan and became the world's most famous, most observed recluse.

In a way, Garbo's early retirement was a gift to her fans, as if she wanted to protect the image of her screen...

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