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The Single Standard

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Single Standard
The Single Standard.jpg
Directed byJohn S. Robertson
Written byJosephine Lovett
Adela Rogers St. Johns (novel)
Marian Ainslee (intertitles)
StarringGreta Garbo
Nils Asther
Johnny Mack Brown
CinematographyOliver T. Marsh
Edited byBlanche Sewell
Music byWilliam Axt
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • July 27, 1929 (1929-07-27)[1]
Running time
73 minutes
CountryUnited States
English intertitles
BudgetUS$ 336,000
Box officeUS$ 1,048,000

The Single Standard is a 1929 American romantic drama film from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer directed by veteran John S. Robertson and starring Greta Garbo, Nils Asther, and Johnny Mack Brown.[2]

This was Greta Garbo's fifteenth film and her second collaboration with fellow Swedish actor Nils Asther, after Wild Orchids.[3]


Arden Stuart (Greta Garbo) believes that a single standard of conduct should apply to both sexes. She strives for a combination of freedom, equality, and honesty in love. Her first attempt is with chauffeur Anthony Kendall, who is secretly a disillusioned "ace aviator" and son of a lord. However their romance ends in disaster; he commits suicide when he is fired because of it.

Her longtime admirer Tommy Hewlett (Johnny Mack Brown) wants to marry her, but Arden finds fulfillment in a chance encounter with Packy Cannon (Nils Asther), a wealthy ex-prizefighter turned painter. He had planned to cruise the South Seas on his yacht alone, but she impulsively goes with him. After months of idyllic bliss however, he turns around and takes her home, explaining that he needs his full attention for his painting.

Though Tommy knows of Arden's love for Packy, he begs her to marry him anyway. She agrees. Several years go by, and they have a much-beloved son.

However, Packy returns and admits to Arden that he could not stop thinking about her. She is swept away and agrees to sail away with him. Tommy confronts his rival with a gun; he orders Packy to pretend to reject Arden, promising to arrange a hunting "accident" for himself, so that Arden can be with Packy without a scandal that would hurt his son. Meanwhile, Arden comes to realize that their child means more to her than anyone else. She tells Packy she cannot go with him. Tommy, unaware of this latest development, arranges his shooting accident, but Arden figures it out in time.



Production took place in April and May 1929, in Hollywood, California (USA). Production stills photographs were made by James Manatt and production portraits were taken by Ruth Harriet Louise on May 1929.

This is often referred to as a "silent" film. It is not. Garbo's last three "silent" films, Wild Orchids, The Single Standard and The Kiss, were all non-talking "sound" films with orchestral scores and sound effects, with all dialogue conveyed through title cards, per the traditional "silent" method.


Critical reception

"Beautifully photographed in the MGM manner by Oliver Marsh, The Single Standard is a prime example of how to tell an essentially "talkie" story within the confines of the silent film."

Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Box office

The film garnered receipts of $1,048,000 ($659,000 in the US and $389,000 abroad), vs. a budget of $336,000. It was one of the top-grossing films of the year. The film brought MGM a profit of $333,000.[4]

Home media

The film was released on VHS home video in the 1980s (within Garbo's lifetime) with its original Movietone soundtrack and effects and appears on television with the Movietone. In 2009 The Single Standard was issued on DVD release for the first time.


  1. ^ Alexander Walker; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (October 1980). Garbo: a portrait. Macmillan. p. 184. ISBN 978-0-02-622950-0. Retrieved July 28, 2010.
  2. ^ The AFI Catalog of Feature Films:..The Single Standard
  3. ^ The Single Standard at database
  4. ^ "The Single Standard".
  • Greta Garbo: A Cinematic Legacy – by Mark A. Vieira

External links

This page was last edited on 9 January 2022, at 11:23
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