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The Silent Lovers (1980)

Follows the arrival of Greta Garbo in Hollywood, and her ill fated affair with fellow star John Gilbert.


John Erman


Garson Kanin (novel), William Hanley (teleplay)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win & 6 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Brian Keith ... Mauritz Stiller
Barry Bostwick ... John Gilbert
Harold Gould ... Louis B. Mayer
John Rubinstein ... Irving Thalberg
James Olson ... Victor Seastrom
Barney Martin ... Eddie Mannix
Audra Lindley ... Laura Hope Crews
Mackenzie Phillips ... Lillian Gish
Kristina Wayborn ... Greta Garbo
Joseph Hacker ... King Vidor
Cecilia Hart ... Norma Shearer
Kerry McGrath ... Eleanor Boardman
Hank Garrett ... Clarence Brown
Thaao Penghlis ... Antonio Moreno
Frederick Combs Frederick Combs ... Howard Strickling


Follows the arrival of Greta Garbo in Hollywood, and her ill fated affair with fellow star John Gilbert.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

based on novel | See All (1) »









Release Date:

20 May 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Moviola: The Silent Lovers See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Greta Garbo: [after learning of John Gilbert's death] I almost married him once, you know.
See more »


References His Glorious Night (1929) See more »

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User Reviews

Pretty Bad
22 November 2017 | by drednmSee all my reviews

Bits and pieces of fact appear in this story of John Gilbert and Greta Garbo, but there are far too many inaccuracies in time and fact for this to be taken seriously. While Kristina Wayborn make a credible effort at playing Garbo, Barry Bostwick is far too hysterical (and tall) as Gilbert.

Story traces Garbo's arrival in Hollywood on the heels of director Mauritz Stiller (Brian Keith) to work at MGM where Gilbert is already a star. Stiller clashes with MGM runners Louis B. Mayer (Harold Gould) and Irving Thalberg (John Rubinstein) but grudgingly, MGM puts Garbo to work. She's a surprise hit in her first two films, but in her third, FLESH AND THE DEVIL, she's teamed with Gilbert and they go through the roof to superstardom.

All the while they are carrying on a torrid affair but Garbo refuses to marry Gilbert. In 1927 two things change them forever. Al Jolson scores a smash hit in the part-talkie film THE JAZZ SINGER (which ushers in the talkie revolution), and Garbo jilts Gilbert at the altar in a double wedding ceremony.

In a drunken rage, Gilbert attacks Mayer who declares he will ruin Gilbert. He did. This story telescopes the time from Jolson's hit to Garbo and Gilbert's talkie debuts in 1930 and makes it seem like their made their talkies right away. They didn't.

Garbo is a hit in ANNA Christie but Gilbert is a flop in HIS GLORIOUS NIGHT which may have been engineered as depicted here to alter his voice. Gilbert's real first talkie was REDEMPTION, which was judged a clunker but was released after HIS GLORIOUS NIGHT specifically to kill Gilbert's career.

Gilbert's career declines (though he made another 8 talkies before he died in 1936) while Garbo's career soars. This film even leaves out QUEEN Christina (1933) which re-teamed the "lovers" and was a hit.

There's much name dropping with many stars and directors shown or mentioned. They include Marion Davies, Norma Shearer, Ricardo Cortez, Antonio Moreno, Lillian Gish, Robert Taylor, Eleanor Boardman, King Vidor, Victor Seastrom, Monta Bell, Laura Hope Crews, and Eddie Mannix.

Other familiar faces in the cast include Barney Martin, Audra Lindley, and James Olson.

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