One year after 1933's Queen Christina, Greta Garbo again portrays a heroine faced with irrevocable choices, playing Katrin in The Painted Veil, an exotic love triangle loosely based on W. Somerset Maugham's novel.
The story unfolds in China, where Katrin's marriage to busy M.D. Walter Fane (Herbert Marshall) is in trouble. Lonely and neglected, Katrin falls in love with diplomatic attaché Jack Townsend (George Brent). When Walter discovers the affair, he takes Katrin inland to fight a cholera epidemic, maliciously thinking the disease will kill them both. But working together helps rebuild their marriage... until Townsend resurfaces. Now Katrin must choose.
MGM backed The Painted Veil with a then-opulent $1 million budget, but the real attraction remains Garbo and her incomparable mystique. Said The New York Times in a review of the film: "She is the most miraculous blend of personality and sheer dramatic talent the screen has ever known."