With MGM's 'The Temptress' (1926), the ending is just the beginning.
What I mean by that is the film has two endings, and that's the one thing that seems to capture people's imaginations.
Also, the endings are completely different. One concludes the tale as a tragedy, while the other finishes in triumph. Huh? How did this happen?
The story goes that MGM studio boss Louis B. Mayer found the ending of the original version so depressing, he ordered a different (and happier) ending on the spot.
What Louis wants, Louis gets. And so director Fred Niblo reshot the past five minutes in order to create a completely different (and much more upbeat) finished to 'The Temptress.'
Which is better? Judge for yourself when we show both endings as part of a screening of 'The Temptress' on Wednesday, Feb. 16 at the Flying Monkey Moviehouse in Plymouth, N.H.
Showtime is 6:30 p.m. and more details are in the press release below.
I understand the "tragic" ending was used for European prints, while the "happy" ending was shown mostly in the United States, where tragic endings have always been box office poison.
We'll show the original sad ending first. Then we'll run the second more upbeat ending, and then the second more upbeat conclusion to finish things out.
And we'll try to answer the question: if two heads are better than one, is the same true for two endings?
And here's the press release:
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TUESDAY, FEB. 1, 2022 / FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact Jeff Rapsis at (603) 236-9237 • e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Greta Garbo stars in 'The Temptress' (1926), a film with two endings, on Wednesday, Feb. 16 at Flying Monkey
Both conclusions to be shown when steamy silent romantic drama is screened with live musical accompaniment
PLYMOUTH, N.H. — It's a film with two completely different endings: one sad and tragic, and the other uplifting and positive.
It's 'The Temptress' (1926), an MGM romantic drama starring Greta Garbo, then just starting a legendary Hollywood career.
Studio boss Louis B. Mayer found the original ending to 'The Temptress' so depressing, he ordered a second—and much happier—conclusion.
Theaters were then allowed to choose which ending to show to audiences.
See both conclusions when 'The Temptress' is screened with live music on Wednesday, Feb. 16 at the Flying Monkey Moviehouse and Performance Center, 39 South Main St., Plymouth, N.H.
Showtime is 6:30 p.m. General admission is $10. The screening will feature live accompaniment by silent film musician Jeff Rapsis.
In 'The Temptress,' Garbo plays Elena, the wife of Monsieur Canterac (Lionel Barrymore) and the mistress of rich Parisian banker Monsieur Fontenoy (Marc MacDermott).
When the banker's friend Robledo (Antonio Moreno), a dynamic young engineer building a massive dam in Argentina, pays a visit to Paris, the fickle Elena immediately falls in love with him.
Elena follows Robledo to Argentina, where her presence leads to a whip duel between Robledo and his rival, Manos Duros (Roy D'Arcy).
She then indirectly causes the collapse of Robledo's dam, which is where the two versions of the film diverge.
In the original version, Elena returns to Paris and the movie concludes tragically.
The revised version sees the film end in Argentina on a much happier note.
Both endings will be screened at the Flying Monkey: first the original "tragic" conclusion, then the more optimistic ending.
Garbo, who first won notice in her native Sweden, came to Hollywood at age 19. 'The Temptress,' her second film for MGM, helped establish her as a major star.
Initially, the director of 'The Temptress' was Garbo's mentor-lover, the brilliant Mauritz Stiller. But he was replaced halfway through by Fred Niblo, giving 'The Temptress' two different styles.
Silent film accompanist Jeff Rapsis will improvise a musical score to 'The Temptress' in real time as the movie is screened.
In creating music for 'The Temptress' and other vintage classics, Rapsis tries to bridge the gap between silent film and modern audiences.
"Live music adds an element of energy to a silent film screening that's really crucial to the experience," Rapsis said.
The screening is the latest in the Flying Monkey's series celebrating films that recently entered the public domain.
Copyright protection for all U.S. films released in 1926 expired on Jan. 1, 2022.
To mark the occasion, the Flying Monkey is showcasing vintage comedies, dramas, and adventure films, all with live music, and all now in the public domain.
Upcoming screenings in the Flying Monkey's "Public Domain Extravaganza" include:
• Wednesday, March 9, 2022, 6:30 p.m.: "The Winning of Barbara Worth" (1926) starring Ronald Colman, Vilma Banky, and Gary Cooper. Epic Western drama about the settling and irrigation of California's Imperial Valley, once a wasteland but now an agricultural paradise. Shot on location by director Henry King in Nevada's Black Rock desert, one of the first films to take audiences to the wide open spaces of the great American West. With a young Gary Cooper playing a key role.
• Wednesday, April 27, 2022, 6:30 p.m.: "Battling Butler" (1926) starring Buster Keaton. In an uproarious boxing comedy, Keaton plays Alfred Butler, a pampered rich idler with the same name as a feared boxing champion. When a girl he's pursuing thinks he's the fighter, Keaton has no choice but to start training.
• Wednesday, May 11, 2022, 6:30 p.m.: "Bardelys the Magnificent" (1926) starring John Gilbert. Gilbert tries his hand at swashbuckling in this big-budget MGM historical extravaganza about exploits of an unjustly disgraced French nobleman. A major film long thought lost until a single print was recently discovered in France.
• Wednesday, June 8, 2022, 6:30 p.m.: "The Black Pirate" (1926) starring Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. The original pirate film, with Fairbanks sword-fighting his way through a period adventure tale set during the age of sailing ships.
"By 1926, the movies had matured enough to offer a wide range of great entertainment that still holds up today," Rapsis said. "Come see for yourself as we screen some of the year's best flicks, all of which recently entered the public domain and now belong to us all."
The romantic drama ‘The Temptress’ starring Greta Garbo will be shown with live music on Wednesday, Feb. 16 at 6:30 p.m. at the Flying Monkey Moviehouse and Performance Center, 39 South Main St., Plymouth, N.H.
Admission to the screening is $10, general admission seating. For more info, call (603) 536-2551 or visit www.flyingmonkeynh.com.