Garbo stars in this provocative and very likeable film loosely based on the life of Queen Christina of Sweden. Christina was never cut out to be a proper woman, and lived most of her life as men did in her time; her clothes were rough, but her intellect was sharp, and she made no apologies for doing things her way. Her father, King Gustavus, insisted that she be reared as a "prince", and his death brought her to the throne as the "Girl King".
In time-tested Hollywood fashion, the fascinating life of the real Queen Christina is changed, creating a love interest who moves her enough to abdicate the throne. In reality, she abdicates due to a desire to study her secret Catholic beliefs more fully. Most of the film veers off course from this point, tailoring history to serve the bedroom-eyed Garbo and her lover, the affable and breezy John Gilbert. She specifically requested Gilbert for this movie, and he does not disappoint. I've said it before and I'll say it again, the fact that his career crashed and burned is one of the sorrows of cinema.
The first half of Queen Christina is rife with lines and moments that could only have been realized in a pre-Code. Garbo is the perfect actress for this gender-bending role, dashing off lines like this with believeable intensity and ardor:
Chancellor: But, your Majesty, you cannot die an old maid!
Queen Christina: I have no intention to, Chancellor. I shall die a bachelor!
The second half of the film follows a more traditional course of hearts and flowers and romance. But still, Garbo is strong, fiercely independent, to the last frame of the picture:
I give this one: