Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Sidney Lumet|
|Produced by||Burtt Harris|
|Written by||Larry Grusin|
|Music by||Cy Coleman|
|Edited by||Andrew Mondshein|
|Distributed by||MGM/UA Entertainment Company|
The movie was written by Larry Grusin, and also stars Catherine Hicks and Steven Hill. It also featured the final screen appearances of veteran actors Howard Da Silva and Hermione Gingold. Bancroft was nominated for a Golden Globe.
The title is a reference of the first film in which Garbo is heard on screen. Her husky voice and purposefully exaggerated Swedish accent debuted in Eugene O'Neill's Anna Christie (1930), which was publicized with the slogan "Garbo Talks".
The film received negative reviews from critics and failed at the box office.
Estelle Rolfe's (Anne Bancroft) social activism and quick temper cause a lot of inconvenience for her grown son Gilbert (Ron Silver), who often must go to a New York City jail precinct to pay her bail.
Gilbert is willing to go to great lengths for his mother, though, after a doctor's examination diagnoses a terminal brain tumor. Estelle's last wish is to meet the movie star she has idolized all her life, the reclusive Greta Garbo.
Lisa Rolfe (Carrie Fisher) sympathizes, but when husband Gilbert abandons his job to devote his days to the search for Garbo, she can't take it anymore and abandons him. An aspiring actress in Gilbert's office, Jane Mortimer (Catherine Hicks), takes a liking to Gilbert and a romantic interest seems entirely possible, but first comes Gilbert's increasingly futile search for a famous woman who does not care to be found.
Leads eventually take Gilbert to an elderly actress, Elizabeth, who once knew Garbo, and to an aging paparazzo, Angelo, who is somewhat acquainted with Garbo's habits and whereabouts, but neither is able to get Gilbert to her. Estelle's estranged husband, Walter, visits the hospital to say an emotional goodbye.
With little time to spare, Gilbert is finally able to meet Garbo face-to-face and explain his mother's situation. Without a word, Garbo goes straight to Estelle's hospital room for a bedside chat, where Estelle herself ends up doing all of the talking.
Gilbert is at peace with how his mother's life came to an end. As he strolls with Jane in the park, she and others are startled by the sight of Garbo walking by. Even more startling to Jane is when Garbo catches a glimpse of Gilbert and says hello.
- Anne Bancroft as Estelle Rolfe
- Ron Silver as Gilbert Rolfe
- Carrie Fisher as Lisa Rolfe
- Betty Comden (uncredited) as Greta Garbo
- Catherine Hicks as Jane Mortimer
- Steven Hill as Walter Rolfe
- Howard Da Silva as Angelo Dokakis
- Dorothy Loudon as Sonya Apollinar
- Harvey Fierstein as Bernie Whitlock
- Hermione Gingold as Elizabeth Rennick
- Alice Spivak as Claire Rolfe
- Mary McDonnell as Lady Capulet
- Adolph Green as Himself
- Andrzej Bartkowiak (uncredited)
- Cy Coleman (uncredited) as Himself
- Greta Garbo (uncredited archive footage) as Herself
- George Plimpton (uncredited) as Himself
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times on the same day panned the film, awarding it one star of a possible four. Ebert wrote: "Garbo Talks starts out as a great idea for a movie, and when it's over, it's still a great idea for a movie, but the problem is, there are no great ideas in between."