From almost any standpoint, The Painted Veil is a bad picture. It’s clumsy, dull and long-winded. It’s mostly the fault of the scripters. Yarn is so confused in the telling as to be almost hopeless. It deviates considerably from the original W. Somerset Maugham tale; that wouldn’t be so bad if well done, but it emerges as neither film nor novel.
Yarn has Greta Garbo as the daughter of a Viennese professor (Jean Hersholt). A doctor in China (Herbert Marshall) comes a-visiting, asks her to marry him and she does, largely, it’s indicated, because she wants to see China. Once they get to China she sits down to a constant and dangerous routine of wearing cockeyed hats that are an absolute menace.
She meets George Brent, who doesn’t seem to mind the hats. He flatters her for a while, then manages to get in a kiss. Hubby Marshall finds out, so he goes into the interior of China to clear up a bad cholera plague and drags her along, the idea seemingly being that may be both of them will catch the disease and die.
Garbo is but fair, although she doesn’t get much chance to emote. Acting honors really go to Marshall.