One of many films based on Leo Tolstoy’s novel Anna Karenina this silent is one of two versions featuring Greta Garbo in the title role (the other is a “talkie” Anna Karenina (1935)). Directed by Edmund Goulding with continuity assistance provided by the great Frances Marion this slightly above average drama also features Garbo’s frequent leading man John Gilbert as Captain Alexei Vronsky and Brandon Hurst as Karenina’s husband Alexei Karenin. George Fawcett and Emily Fitzroy also appear as the Grand Duke and Duchess respectively. The story is about a woman who cheats on her husband with a military man; eventually they run off together. Since the husband’s a Senator who wants to avoid a scandal he banishes her from his home telling their child (Philippe De Lacy) that his mother is dead. The question is whether the mother’s love for the Captain is greater than that for her child. The Captain has chosen the woman over his career but Karenina promises the Grand Duke that she’ll leave her lover if the Duke will restore Vronsky’s good name.
*** SPOILERS ***
The film has two endings: the American audience ending has the Captain learning of the young Karenina boy having great success in military school some years later where he visits and discovers that the Senator has died such that it concludes with a loving reunion between he and Anna; the International ending has Anna throwing herself in front of a train in order to keep her promise to the Grand Duke.