Even nearly 100 year ago, the harried press agents for a variety of films were dragging their stars out to pose for press photos to remind the public that (a) they’re alive, (b) we like them, and (c) they have a new movie coming out. I hope some enterprising young publicist is looking at this thoughtfully from her WFH situation in West Hollywood and thinking, “you know what? When we all get back to work, I am going to pitch the cast of [WHATEVER] having a charming picnic on the backlot. Emma Stone and Lupita Nyong’o and Henry Golding and Jennifer Lopez, sharing a pie? There is literally no way that People won’t run that photo. Thank you, Greta Garbo.”

In contrast to photo calls of today, though, it’s nice that the men dressed up, too. Informative Caption only tells me that this is “Swedish-American actress Greta Garbo (1905 – 1990) off set with film director Edmund Goulding (1891 – 1959) and her co-star John Gilbert (1899 – 1936) during the filming of the romantic drama ‘Love’.” Garbo is the hatless one (she looks doubtful about this meal, and possibly as if she mad at her own publicist; Goulding is the equally irked looking gentleman laying next to her. (You can tell he’s the director because there’s something on a lanyard around his neck.) He has an irritatingly skimpy Wikipedia.

Wiki, however, has helped us out when it comes to the film, saying of Love:

Taking full advantage of the star power, a drama was scripted based on Leo Tolstoy’s 1877 novel, Anna Karenina. The result was a failure for the author’s purists, but it provided the public with a taste of Gilbert-Garbo eroticism that would never again be matched. The publicity campaign for the film was one of the largest up to that time, and the title was changed from the original, Heat.

I told you this was a good press stunt! (Wiki also tells us that they filmed two different endings, and theatres got to choose which one they wanted to run, which was also clever.) Interestingly, Garbo was in a proper adaptation of Anna Karenina just a few years later, which I only recently saw on TCM. It just had the usual ending.

As far as John Gilbert goes, he’s Kneeling Mustache on the far right. He was VERY famous in the silent era but didn’t do as well once sound was introduced, but I know him mostly because I enjoy hearing old Hollywood gossip and he and Garbo apparently had quite an affair. (I think was real and not just for PR?) Anyway, his Wiki is very juicy and it seems probable that he was at least somewhat terrible; the “Personal Life” section is HIGHLY tumultuous.

We don’t have IDs for anyone else. I think Knickers McSunglasses there, who really got over-styled and is probably irritated with wardrobe is Brandon Hurst, who acted a lot and has NO “Personal Life” section on his Wiki. There are FOUR women credited with the screenplay on this project, and I think the two women here are half of them; the one closest to Garbo is, I think, Lorna Moon, whose short life was quite fascinating (there’s a secret baby and a sanitarium involved). Whoever she is…I like her outfit.

(Photo via John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images)