review for Susan Lenox: Her Fall and Rise on AllMovie

Susan Lenox: Her Fall and Rise (1931)
by Craig Butler review

Fans of old style movie stars will want to seek out Susan Lenox: Her Fall and Rise if they have never seen it, for it's the only chance to see genuine screen legends Greta Garbo and Clark Gable onscreen together. It's a pairing that promises fireworks, especially as Gable is still young -- and even mustache-less. Unfortunately, those firecrackers don't ever really materialize. There's certainly some chemistry between the two, but not enough, perhaps because Gable is not well cast. The Gable audiences know and remember would never have let his true love's tawdry background keep him from her. Gable doesn't seem comfortable in the role, and as a result he can't come up to Garbo's level, who is playing a part that fits her like a glove. Looking absolutely stunning in William H. Daniels' lovingly composed photography, Garbo sails through the part, turning in a glorious star diva performance that still finds the truth beneath the cinematic trappings and makes a ridiculous story compelling and thoroughly engaging. Lenox' screenplay is so much nonsense, but Garbo knows she can play that nonsense for all its worth, and she is a wonder to behold. She gets fine support from Jean Hersholt and Alan Hale, and even miscast, Gable is worth seeing; but Lenox is a Garbo vehicle, and she is at all times firmly in the driver's seat.