As You Desire Me (1932)

70-71 mins | Melodrama | 28 May 1932

Director:

George Fitzmaurice

Cinematographer:

William Daniels

Editor:

George Hively

Production Designer:

Cedric Gibbons

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

The English language version of Luigi Pirandello's play, translated by Samuel Putnam as As You Desire Me , opened in Washington D.C. on 30 Nov 1930 and in New York on 28 Jan 1931. Judith Anderson starred as the main character, known as "The Unknown One." In the play, "The Unknown One" leaves with the character Salter at the end, rather than staying with the count. According to a news item in FD , Melvyn Douglas was borrowed from Samuel Goldwyn for this picture. The NYT review noted that it had been announced that this film was to be Greta Garbo's last; however, she made her next film, Queen Christina , in 1933 (see below) and continued making films at M-G-M until 1941. This was the first of three films in which Garbo co-starred with Douglas. The others were Garbo's last two films, Ninotchka , directed by Ernst Lubitsch in 1939 (see below) and Two-Faced Woman , directed by George Cukor in 1941. A HR news item states that Garbo considered doing a remake of As You Desire Me in 1943. According to modern sources, Garbo's friend and advisor, Salka Viertel convinced Garbo to request Erich von Stroheim for the role of Karl. Because Stroheim had reportedly been barred from the M-G-M lot by studio head Louis B. Mayer and production head Irving Thalberg, Garbo threatened to quit M-G-M if Stroheim was not accepted for the role. A pre-production HR news item announced that Nils Asther was to co-star with Garbo, but he did not appear in the film ... More Less

The English language version of Luigi Pirandello's play, translated by Samuel Putnam as As You Desire Me , opened in Washington D.C. on 30 Nov 1930 and in New York on 28 Jan 1931. Judith Anderson starred as the main character, known as "The Unknown One." In the play, "The Unknown One" leaves with the character Salter at the end, rather than staying with the count. According to a news item in FD , Melvyn Douglas was borrowed from Samuel Goldwyn for this picture. The NYT review noted that it had been announced that this film was to be Greta Garbo's last; however, she made her next film, Queen Christina , in 1933 (see below) and continued making films at M-G-M until 1941. This was the first of three films in which Garbo co-starred with Douglas. The others were Garbo's last two films, Ninotchka , directed by Ernst Lubitsch in 1939 (see below) and Two-Faced Woman , directed by George Cukor in 1941. A HR news item states that Garbo considered doing a remake of As You Desire Me in 1943. According to modern sources, Garbo's friend and advisor, Salka Viertel convinced Garbo to request Erich von Stroheim for the role of Karl. Because Stroheim had reportedly been barred from the M-G-M lot by studio head Louis B. Mayer and production head Irving Thalberg, Garbo threatened to quit M-G-M if Stroheim was not accepted for the role. A pre-production HR news item announced that Nils Asther was to co-star with Garbo, but he did not appear in the film and it has not been determined whether he was considered for the part of the count or Salter in the picture. Modern sources also note that the character Karl was loosely based on the Hungarian playwright Ferenc Molnar. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
4 Mar 32
p. 6.
Film Daily
5 Jun 32
p. 10.
HF
12 Mar 32
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Feb 32
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Jul 32
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Apr 43
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald
11 Jun 32
p. 29.
New York Times
3 Jun 32
p. 23.
Variety
7 Jun 32
p. 21.
DETAILS
Release Date:
28 May 1932
Production Date:
began mid March 1932
Copyright Claimant:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Distributing Corp.
Copyright Date:
24 June 1932
Copyright Number:
LP3104
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
70-71
Length(in reels):
7
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

Zara, a sultry singer in a Budapest nightclub, is a cynical alcoholic. She lives with novelist Karl Salter, who loves her, and tolerates her life of drinking and picking up men. When a man named Tony comes for her and calls her "Maria," Karl is told that Tony has been looking for her for ten years to take her back to his best friend, Count Bruno Varelli. Tony says that she is Maria, Bruno's wife, who had disappeared ten years before during World War I, but Zara denies that she is Maria and orders Tony out. She soon relents, however, and goes with him, despite the fact that Karl threatens her and shoots her in the arm. At the Varelli estate, when Bruno receives word that his long-presumed dead wife is returning, he is ecstatic, but when Zara arrives, she is like a stranger and doesn't recognize him or their devoted family servants. She claims that she is not really Maria, but when he begs her to stay, she asks him to help her be the woman he desires--Maria as she appeared when Tony painted her portrait many years before. Meanwhile, Karl goes to visit Ines Montari, Maria's sister, seeking her help in exposing Zara as an imposter. As Zara and Bruno get to know each other, she falls in love with him and wants to devote her life to him. Just as she seems to be grasping the happiness that has eluded her for so long, however, Karl comes to the estate to see her. He tells her that one week from that day, Maria was to be declared ... +


Zara, a sultry singer in a Budapest nightclub, is a cynical alcoholic. She lives with novelist Karl Salter, who loves her, and tolerates her life of drinking and picking up men. When a man named Tony comes for her and calls her "Maria," Karl is told that Tony has been looking for her for ten years to take her back to his best friend, Count Bruno Varelli. Tony says that she is Maria, Bruno's wife, who had disappeared ten years before during World War I, but Zara denies that she is Maria and orders Tony out. She soon relents, however, and goes with him, despite the fact that Karl threatens her and shoots her in the arm. At the Varelli estate, when Bruno receives word that his long-presumed dead wife is returning, he is ecstatic, but when Zara arrives, she is like a stranger and doesn't recognize him or their devoted family servants. She claims that she is not really Maria, but when he begs her to stay, she asks him to help her be the woman he desires--Maria as she appeared when Tony painted her portrait many years before. Meanwhile, Karl goes to visit Ines Montari, Maria's sister, seeking her help in exposing Zara as an imposter. As Zara and Bruno get to know each other, she falls in love with him and wants to devote her life to him. Just as she seems to be grasping the happiness that has eluded her for so long, however, Karl comes to the estate to see her. He tells her that one week from that day, Maria was to be declared legally dead and that her property would have gone to her sister Ines instead of Bruno. When Zara realizes that he is telling the truth, she thinks that Bruno has merely been playing a game for the property. Bruno protests, but Zara does not believe him. When Karl then says that the real Maria, who has been confined to a sanitarium since the war, is with him, they demand to see her. As the woman enters, she calls Ines and the maid Lena by name and, though veiled, she is accepted as Maria by most of the family. Bruno and Tony refuse to believe that the woman is Maria, however. Through questioning, the woman regains bits of her memory and they realize that she is not Maria, but one of the women who lived on the estate before the war. Finally, Bruno tells Zara that he loves her, no matter who she is or was. When he says that he has found his lost love in her, Zara realizes that they can be happy. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.