A sumptuously produced picture, one unbroken succession of pictorial surprises in beauty. No better handling of background and composition has been seen.
This flawlessness is unfortunately not matched by selection of story or star. Greta Garbo does not make the woman of sinister passion created by [novelist Blasco] Ibanez. She is scarcely the screen type of aggressive vitality the character demands.
The story starts at a masquerade ball in Paris, a remarkable bit of staging. Elena, unhappy wife (as later develops) of a Paris fop, and Robledo, Spanish engineer on leave from a vast irrigation work in the Argentine, meet and fall in love, Elena vowing she is free.
Elena’s married state is disclosed. When it is further revealed that she was the mistress of a rich banker whom she ruined and drove to suicide Robledo breaks away, returning to South America. Thither Elena follows with her husband. One after another the white men in charge of the big work fall under her fatal fascination and go down to wreck, while Robledo alone holds aloof.