Synopsis by Hal Erickson
The Temptress was Greta Garbo's second American film, and while it may strike modern viewers as excessively melodramatic, Garbo is always worth watching. The star plays Elena, the wife of Monsieur Canterac (Lionel Barrymore) -- and the mistress of rich Parisian banker Monsieur Fontenoy (Marc MacDermott). When the banker's Argentine friend Robledo (Antonio Moreno), a dynamic young engineer, pays a visit to Paris, the fickle Elena immediately falls in love with him. Upon learning that Fontenoy has lost his fortune, Elena dumps him and returns to her husband, whereupon the banker kills himself. Evidently not content with ruining one life, Elena heads to Argentina and goes to work on Robledo, leading to a bloody whip duel between Robledo and his rival Manos Duros (Roy D'Arcy). Inevitably, Elena drives Robledo to perdition and indirectly causes the destruction of the magnificent dam upon which he has worked all his life. Banished from Argentina, she returns to Paris, where she spends the rest of her days as a seedy streetwalker. At least, that was the ending of the European version of The Temptress. The American version incredibly ends happily, five years after the above-described events, as Robledo and the reformed Elena triumphantly supervise the opening of his now-repaired dam! Initially, the film's director was Garbo's mentor-lover, the brilliant Mauritz Stiller, but he was replaced halfway through by the competent but uninspired Fred Niblo -- and the finished picture shows this division of interests all too clearly.
destruction, femme-fatale, love, rampage, romance, tragic-love