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December 1, 2018 – December 30, 2018

Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich were two of Hollywood’s—and the world’s—biggest movie stars in that most crucial decade, the 1930s, in which the industry was just beginning to perfect the use of sound in motion pictures. Garbo moved from her native Sweden to Hollywood during the silent era and made a string of beautiful pictures at MGM, while Dietrich came from Germany later, achieving immediate success as Josef von Sternberg’s main collaborator at Paramount, having been brought over to counter MGM’s success with Garbo. At the beginning of the 30s, the two starred in many films that would later become known as pre-Code: scandal-laced films where almost anything went. Both were famously, frequently androgynous on screen, playing to the hilt their smoky voices and seductive visages, always swathed in layers of immaculate costumes, copious cigarette smoke, and hazy cinematography. The two were fierce rivals, to be sure, but rumors of a prolonged affair between them have for 80 years swirled in Hollywood and beyond—to which both consistently replied that they never once met. However, what we are left with is their immaculate films from this golden period: towering achievements of staging, cinematography, writing, and featuring some of the finest acting ever committed to celluloid by two strong, independent women who have since become unquestionable legends of the silver screen.

Anna Christie

Directed by Clarence Brown

“Garbo talks!” read the tagline for this relatively unglamorous 1930 MGM work, adapted from the Pulitzer-Prize-winning play by Eugene O’Neill

Anna Karenina

Directed by Clarence Brown

A massive commercial and critical success upon release in 1935, Anna Karenina was, at the time, one of the biggest

Blonde Venus

Directed by Josef von Sternberg

Six months after the massive success of their other 1932 collaboration, Shanghai Express, Marlene Dietrich and Josef von Sternberg tackled


Directed by George Cukor

A smoldering romantic barn-burner adapted from an Alexandre Dumas story, Camille was one of the most successful films of both

Destry Rides Again

Directed by George Marshall

In this vintage Western, the glamourous Marlene Dietrich stars as Frenchy, a dance hall singer and entertainer caught up in


Directed by Josef von Sternberg

A spy thriller featuring Josef von Sternberg’s considerable talents at creating and evoking both atmosphere and deeply buried emotion, Dishonored

Mata Hari

Directed by George Fitzmaurice

One of MGM’s greatest commercial successes of the pre-Code era and the biggest box-office hit of Greta Garbo’s career is


Directed by Josef von Sternberg

Marlene Dietrich and Josef von Sternberg’s first Hollywood collaboration, Morocco is a gauzy, dust-covered tale of lust and betrayal, following


Directed by Ernst Lubitsch

Coming at a time in which Greta Garbo’s career was in sharp decline—her popularity waned in the US, while in

Queen Christina

Directed by Rouben Mamoulian

Queen Christina was a massive commercial hit for MGM both at home and abroad—this time perhaps due to Greta Garbo’s

Shanghai Express

Directed by Josef von Sternberg

The film that completely cemented Marlene Dietrich in Hollywood lore, Shanghai Express features some of von Sternberg’s most indelible compositions

The Blue Angel

Directed by Josef von Sternberg

The Blue Angel, German cinema’s first full-talkie following one of world cinema’s most storied silent film histories, shot star Marlene

The Devil is a Woman

Directed by Josef von Sternberg

The final of six Paramount collaborations between director von Sternberg and star Marlene Dietrich, whose relationship over the preceding five

The Kiss

Directed by Jacques Feyder

By 1929, Greta Garbo had already been under contract at MGM for several years making pictures like Flesh and the

The Scarlet Empress

Directed by Josef von Sternberg

Marlene Dietrich and Josef von Sternberg tackle the historical costume drama—in this case the court of Catherine the Great. However,

The Northwest Film Center recognizes and honors the Indigenous peoples of this region on whose ancestral lands the museum now stands. These include the Willamette Tumwater, Clackamas, Kathlemet, Molalla, Multnomah and Watlala Chinook Peoples and the Tualatin Kalapuya who today are part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and many other Native communities who made their homes along the Columbia River. We also want to recognize that Portland today is a community of many diverse Native peoples who continue to live and work here. We respectfully acknowledge and honor all Indigenous communities—past, present, future—and are grateful for their ongoing and vibrant presence.