Greta Garbo


Directed by                John S. Robertson
Produced by              MGM
Scenario                     Josephine Lovett from the novel by Adele Rogers St. John
Starring                      Greta Garbo, Nils Asther, Johnny Mack Brown
Cinematography        Oliver Marsh
Editing by                   Blanche Sewell
Distributed by            MGM
Release date                July 29, 1929
Running time              71 minutes
Country                       US
Language                     Silent film


We have included this film in our program to illustrate the work and contributions our star director John S. Robertson.

The film is still under copyright, which prevents us from streaming it on our site.  We will be able to show it you in 2024.


"The Single Standard" is a romantic drama directed by John Robertson and starring Greta Garbo.

Arden (Greta Garbo) is a bored young woman unimpressed with the ardent courting and marriage proposals from Tommy (Johnny Mack Brown), who is not exciting enough for her.  She sends him back to the party, and invites her driver for a refreshing night flick. We learn that she does not believe in the double standard, according to which in the court of public opinion men are allowed affairs, but women are not.  She believes in women's right for freedom and equality in love.

The brief affair with the driver ends badly, as he is fired the same evening and decides to take his life.  Arden is depressed for a while, but soon meets an exciting fellow by the name of Packy (Nils Asther), a former boxer and an aspiring painter. In a love at first sight she joins him on his sailing trip to southern seas and oceans. Their love affair flourishes until one day Packy tells Arden that she is a hindrance to his artistic conquests and he must take her back to shore.

Heartbroken by this unpleasant development, in a moment of weakness Arden yields to the ardent courting and marriage proposals from Tommy, but warns him that if ever Packy comes back she may not be able to resist the urge to go back to him.  Tommy accepts this condition, saying that his only ambition is to take care of her.  Three years later Arden and Tommy seem to be a happy family raising a son.

One day, however, Packy does return and Arden is not able to resist the urge to go back to him.  Tommy and the rest of the socialites witness when Arden takes a boat to visit Packy's yacht. She tells him that she would go with him anywhere in the world. Upon her return to the party, however, she is scorned by an elderly lady and shamed.

In the meantime Tommy confronts Packy with a gun, telling him to send Arden back when she shows up next time.  Tommy says that he will set up a hunting "accident" to give Arden a chance to be free, and his son to grow up, without a scandal.

Arden has a brief period of soul-searching and decides that her son is the most important man in her life.  She tells Packy that she can't leave with him.  She then discovers Tommy's preparations, stops him from going hunting and tells him that she does not have a temptation to stray any more.

The film enjoys a nice rating in IMDB.


The Single Standard (1929) on IMDb


Click to enlarge:

Nils Asther and Johnny Mack Brown in The Single Standard director John S Robertson 1929 18

    Nils Asther and Johnny Mack Brown in the 'coffee and pistols for two' scene