The spectacular failure of her controversial, posthumously published purported memoir notwithstanding, the folks at MGM/UA Home Video have decided that the American public is still interested in Greta Garbo -- enough that MGM/UA is offering a retrospective of her work on tape next month. The studio's "The Divine Garbo" promotion will include a dozen $19.98 movies, including five new to home video, and many more available for the first time at such a low price.
For a while it looked as if Garbo would prove as elusive in death as she did in her decades-long self-imposed exile from public life. With much of her film work still unavailable on tape, Garbo seemed like a natural candidate for the standard video-industry funeral -- a low-priced promotion of classic films -- especially considering the high number of films that belonged to a single video company that could engineer such an offer. For industry (and Garbo) watchers, MGM/UA's silence since her death last spring seemed suspicious; it turns out that the company was waiting for the early-fall rush of highly promoted sale-priced titles to pass so that the late-November Garbo promotion could get the attention and retailer support it might have missed earlier in the season.
The five Garbo classics that will make their video debuts next month are: "Conquest" (1937), a 19th-century royal romance starring Garbo as a Polish countess to Charles Boyer's Napoleon Bonaparte; "As You Desire Me" (1933), costarring Melvyn Douglas and Erich von Stroheim, with Garbo as an Italian amnesiac; "The Painted Veil" (1934), featuring Herbert Marshall and George Brent in an adaptation of a W. Somerset Maugham story; "Susan Lenox (Her Fall and Rise)" (1931), the only screen pairing of Garbo and Clark Gable; and "Mata Hari" (1931), costarring Ramon Novarro and Lionel Barrymore.
It often turns out that the new releases that make up these posthumous promos aren't among the best that the star has to offer -- those have usually long before been committed to tape -- but Garbo fans will appreciate new low prices on such greats as "Anna Christie," "Anna Karenina" and "Camille," among others. Connery, Sean Connery
It's hard to imagine a Sean Connery promotion without a Bond in the bunch, but Paramount Home Video has assembled just that -- mostly because rights to the James Bond series are all tied up elsewhere. But most of Connery's more recent screen triumphs have been at Paramount, including "The Hunt for Red October," whose arrival in video stores today is the occasion for the current Connerama.
The only movie receiving its video debut is "Another Time, Another Place," the 1958 tearjerker (costarring Lana Turner) that offered one of his earliest screen appearances. Other movies, priced from $14.95 to $29.95, include "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," "The Molly Maguires," "Murder on the Orient Express," "The Presidio," "The Red Tent" and "The Untouchables." Shoppers who are looking forward to the day when "Hunt" gets its inevitable price reduction will have a long wait; in a gesture to appease retailers who saw red at its $100 price tag, Paramount has promised that it won't cut the price for at least two years. Courting History
The fast-approaching milestone of the 25th Super Bowl has put professional football marketers in a reflective mood, and baseball history is constantly celebrated in books and movies. Pro basketball, however, has never attracted the dedicated historians that its spring and fall counterparts have. Now that the baseball season is behind us, the NBA hopes to give us a quick video history lesson with CBS/Fox Video's aptly titled "History of the NBA," due in video stores today. The fastest game of the three major professional sports also turns out to have the fastest history; the tape, which spans the origins of pro ball in the early 1900s to a look at current stars, packs eight decades into an hour. Viewers lucky enough to have cable could have taped the program off HBO earlier this year; the rest of us will have to pay $19.98. November Notables
Next week's arrival of the low-priced "Total Recall" brings the early-fall emphasis on bargain blockbusters to a close, and the rental market will respond with one of the busiest months in a while. Some highlights: Nov. 7: "Chattahoochee." Nov. 8: "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," "Back to the Future Part III." Nov. 15: "Bird on a Wire," "Cadillac Man." Nov. 20: "Another 48 Hrs.," "Betsy's Wedding." Nov. 21: "Men at Work." Nov. 28: "Daddy's Dyin' ... Who's Got the Will?"