Susan Lenox: Her Fall and Rise
Release Date: October 1, 1931
Directed by: Robert Z. Leonard
Available on DVD through The Warner Brothers Archive Collection
Garbo is Susan (born Helga), an illegitimate orphan raised in shame by her aunt and her cruel husband, who treats her like a slave. He picks a man for her to marry “so you won’t be without a wedding ring like your mother”. When the man tries to rape her, she runs away in a rainstorm, seeking shelter in a barn owned by architect Rodney (Gable). Rodney lets her stay with him and soon they are in love. When he leaves for a business trip, her uncle finds her and she runs away again, to Lenoxville, where she happens upon a traveling circus. She adopts the new name of Susan Lenox and becomes part of the act and can’t fend off the advances of the circus manager. When Rodney finds her, he is furious that she has become a fallen woman and leaves her. They run into each other again in New York, where she is now the mistress of a politician. Susan becomes determined to get Rodney back and prove to him she can be a one-man woman.
Photoplay magazine, September 1931:
If you like your romance spread thick, your passion strong and your Garbo hot, don’t miss this. And take notice, Garbo-ites: If you were mad about her before, just wait until you see her teamed up with this manisfestation of masculine S.A. called Clark Gable.
The story of Susan Lenox is fairly well-known. Picturizing it, MGM stuck closely to the tale, modernizing it, of course, and adding a trick ending.
Garbo does her utmost with the title role, a natural for her. And Gable will unquestionably win more fans by his work. This Garbo-Gable team looks hot for the screen’s double-harness honors. To MGM’s photographers, a rousing cheer for some magnificent camera work.
Movie Classic magazine, December 1931:
They come together–the Great Siren of the screen, and the Great Lover–and the result is a personal triumph for Greta Garbo and Clark Gable. They alone make “Susan Lenox” a picture you don’t want to miss. the story is by no means novel, the dialogure has a tendency to be heavy, and the action is slow. Again, Greta gets an unfortunate start in life, becomes “a lost lady,” and then falls hopelessly in love with a young architect (Gable). Their romance looks like the tragic kind until the end–which is unexpected. Greta looks the best she has since “Anna Christie,” and Gable makes the most of his Big Oppurtunity.
Silver Screen magazine, December 1931:
Splendid! Another Garbo hit that will line ’em up at the box office. Greta, the more sinned against than sinning Susan Lenox, runs away on her wedding day, joins a circus, falls in love again and marries. Sounds confusing–but it’s all done in the grand Garbo manner. Clark Gable is the leading man. Gable-Garbo, what more can you ask?
Photoplay magazine, March 1932:
Excellent. Garbo finds oppurtunity in this old story by David Graham Phillips to be forlorn, to be terror stricken and to be utterly desirable. Clark Gable is the leading man and his love scenes with Garbo are the best yet. The plot is nothing to speak of, but you do not realize this as you are completely lost in the charm of Garbo. In fact there might not be any plot at all for all you care.
“What’s the matter, Major? Get back!” first line
“House. You know, house. Doors, windows, roof…house. You’re not afraid of a house, are you?”
“I haven’t worn petticoats for years!”
“Never mind. We won’t talk about you at all. No sir. You know what we’ll do? We’ll talk about me. You know who I am? No? Well, I’ll tell you. I’m Rodney, Mr. Spencer’s little boy. I’m thirty, white and unmarried. I’m really a very fine fellow–never unkind to animals, never kick babies in the teeth, always courteous when drunk.”
“You’re going to have a ring, Helga. I’m bringing one back with me.”
“You take good care of yourself while I’m gone. Eat lots, get plenty of good sleep, don’t set fire to the house and don’t take any wooden nickels!”
“What right has he to talk to you like that?”
“He just called me a sap. Well he was right–a sap not to realize how cheap you are!”
“I should have paid you off, thrown a few dollars on the bureau–that’s the kind of language you understand!”
“She’ll treat you as she treated me–when the next man comes along…only it won’t hurt you because you’re used to her kind of woman!”
“I have nothing more to say to you except that if you were younger I’d slam you into the middle of that table!”
“Penthouses and politicians don’t last forever, do they?”
“You know, you’re the only woman I ever wanted to build a fence around and have all to myself. Yeah, you built the fence–an army of men!”
“Why ask anything different from me? Every other man you knew took you at your own price–nothing! This time I’ll take you as I find it!”
“Marry? Say, all you need is the price of the marriage license. Just the price, not the wedding, just the price.”
“Every time a man would come along, I’d wonder.” last line
Behind the Scenes:
Garbo requested that Gable be her costar for the film because he was an up and coming star and wouldn’t overshadow her. She later became dissatisfied with the script and with him and did not show up to the set for several days. L.B. Mayer convinced her to come back after numerous script revisions. Gable found her behavior extremely unprofessional and did not like her aloof attitude. After that their relationship was frosty through the rest of filming.
Some lobby cards for the film display the title as “Susan Lenox: Her Rise and Fall”. In Europe the title was “Susan Lennox: Her Fall and Rise.”