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Estelle Rolfe (Anne Bancroft), is quite a personality. Complete with a brassy native New Yorker accent & attitude enough to part the Red Sea, she's going to die of brain cancer on her own terms. Gilbert Rolfe (Ron Silver) is named for Greta Garbo's frequent co-star, John Gilbert. Lisa Rolfe (Carrie Fisher) is Gilbert's ultra-demanding wife who drives him nuts. She's a woman that's a lot like Gilbert's mother. Since Gilbert lives near his mother & is a dutiful son to her, he's often caught between the 2 not knowing who to please first.
When Gilbert learns that Estelle has only 6 months to live, there's not doubt which course his life will take. This dutiful son will set out to fulfill his mother's last wish: to meet the woman, the actress, the legend who she's idolized most of her life: Greta Garbo.
There's one great big problem, however. Greta Garbo is one of the most determinedly reclusive people. Nevertheless, Gilbert relentlessly seeks out the well hidden actress.
The film becomes quite a good comedy as Gilbert is sent by some of the kookiest people on a wild goose chase after Garbo. Whats more, "Garbo Talks," is a heartening human drama about a lively woman facing her death; a terrific backdrop of NYC as it really is, bustling with life & eccentrics; and a film about family devotion.
While Ron Silver delivers a marvelous performance as Gilbert and Carrie Fisher really conveys herself as a pain in the neck of a wife, the soul of the film comes from the well grounded portrayal of Estelle by Anne Bancroft. So, I want to write a bit more about her.
I've often wondered what it is like to be married to Mel Brooks. Only Anne Bancroft knows. Imagine being the woman in his life who makes him an everyday man. What kind of woman could possibly live with Brooks' kind of genius?
One who is his equal. That's one of the reasons why I look closely at the performances of Anne Bancroft. During this one she utters a line that I suspect a great many of us have thought without saying: 'I'm not afraid to die. I just thought I was going to be the one exception'.
25 years before "Garbo Talks," Mrs. Robinson appeared on the silver screen in "The Graduate." Folk singers of the 60's were composing & performing songs about her. That too was Anne Bancroft. No one can forget her.
6 years before we came to know Estelle Rolfe, Anne Bancroft introduced us to Sen. Lillian DeHaven in "G.I. Jane." Even with a much younger leading actress, Demi Moore in that film's spotlight, Anne Bancroft had such a powerful performance presence in that film that she prevented Demi Moore from 'stealing' the show.
In 1963, when these were the other formidable nominees,
Days of Wine and Roses (1962) - Lee Remick
Long Day's Journey Into Night (1962) - Katharine Hepburn
Sweet Bird of Youth (1962) - Geraldine Page
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) - Bette Davis,
Anne Bancroft won the Oscar for Best Actress for her performance as Annie Sullivan, Helen Keller's teacher. Since then, Bancroft has been nominated for a Best Actress Oscar 4 more times. None of the films for which she was nominated to receive the highest award were made by her husband of 41 years, Mel Brooks--though she did make an appearance as a church lady in "Blazing Saddles." On June 6th, 2008, it'll be the 3rd anniversary of her death. At her memorial service in NYC, Paul Simon sang "Mrs Robinson." Anne Bancroft was eulogized by her "The Miracle Worker" (1962) co-star Patty Duke~
I love this movie unfortunately its not available on DVD. I purchase because its only available on a VHS format and if you still have a VCR . . . I highly recommend this great film!!