Greta Garbo, Ramon Novarro, Lionel Barrymore and Lewis Stone -# the Metro Tragedy Four -# dominate the whole affair, making the picture, as a picture, very secondary.
It needs its cast names at all times, being a yarn which can’t stand up for long on its own gams. Though Garbo is sexy and hot in a less subtle way this time, and though the plot goes about as far as it can in situation warmth, the story presents nothing sensational. Its few attempts at power are old style and all have been used before in similar trite spy stories.
Garbo does a polite cooch to Oriental music as a starter and in the same number makes a symbolic play for a huge idol, with the hips in motion all the while. The finish is a neatly masked strip with Greta’s back to the lens.
Two other torrid moments later in the running are given to Garbo and Novarro. Both times they turn out the lights.
Mata Hari’s method for grabbing enemy info, if this scenario is authentic, was to get ’em in the bedroom and keep ’em interested, while an assistant operative snatches the papers.
Barrymore and Stone are playing what, for them, are minor parts. Barrymore, as a broken general who loses his honor and finally his life through the glamorous Mata Hari, succeeds in inserting a punch in his moments of despair. But Stone is under wraps with a semi-villainous assignment that doesn’t warrant his ability.