Susan Lenox (Her Fall and Rise)

Susan Lenox (Her Fall and Rise) is a 1931 American pre-Code film directed and produced by Robert Z. Leonard and starring Greta Garbo and Clark Gable. The film was based on the novel by David Graham Phillips and made by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was the only film in which Greta Garbo was paired with Clark Gable. However, they didn't like each other. The notoriety of the novel alone was enough for British censors to ban it from release. With a few cuts, it was finally approved in the UK with a new title: The Rise of Helga.[3]

Susan Lenox (Her Fall and Rise)
Video cover
Directed byRobert Z. Leonard
Produced byRobert Z. Leonard
Written byDavid Graham Phillips
Screenplay byLeon Gordon
Zelda Sears
Edith Fitzgerald
Wanda Tuchock
Based onnovel
by David Graham Phillips, Susan Lenox: Her Fall and Rise (1912)[1]
StarringGreta Garbo
Clark Gable
Jean Hersholt
Alan Hale
Music byWilliam Axt
Leo F. Forbstein
CinematographyWilliam H. Daniels
Edited byMargaret Booth
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • September 10, 1931 (1931-09-10)
Running time
76 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1,506,000[2]


Helga Ohlin (Greta Garbo) is an illegitimate child born and raised in an abusive home. Her uncle, Karl Ohlin (Jean Hersholt), arranges for her to marry a lout, Jeb Mondstrum (Alan Hale), but she runs away and meets Rodney Spencer (Clark Gable), an architect who is renting a cabin down the road from her family's farm. When Rodney leaves the cabin, her father and Jeb find her. She runs away again and hops onto a train that has just embarked. She enters a room filled with a circus troupe. She joins them as a dancer, but writes letters to Spencer to meet her in Marquette; she now has been given the name of "Susan Lenox". While the police search for her on the train, the leader of the circus group, Wayne Burlingham (John Miljan), hides her in his quarters and then takes advantage of her. She meets Rodney in Marquette, but they have a misunderstanding because of her indiscretions with Burlingham, and he leaves. She runs away to New York and becomes the mistress of Mike Kelly (Hale Hamilton), a politician. At a dinner party at Kelly's penthouse, Mrs. Lenox invites Spencer, falsely concerning a new contract for him. He arrives not knowing the woman he is to meet, but they have another misunderstanding, and he once again leaves. Susan desperately goes to Spencer's home, but finds that he has left without telling where. She vows to search for him, and eventually she lands in Puerto Sacate of South America working as a dancer in a dance hall. There, she is romanced by an American, Robert Lane (Ian Keith), who arrives by yacht and wants to take her away with him and marry her. But, Susan yearns to meet with Spencer and vows to "rise or fall alone." A barge with men working in the swamps arrive at the port, and a group of them, including Spencer, disembark and arrive at the dance hall. Susan and Spencer meet, and after some arguing, they finally rekindle their relationship.

Cast (in credits order)

Box office

According to MGM records the film made $806,000 in the U.S. and Canada and $700,000 elsewhere, resulting in a profit of $364,000.[2]


  1. Susan Lenox (Her Fall and Rise),; accessed August 8, 2015.
  2. The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles, California: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study
  3. Susan Lenox (Her Fall and Rise),; accessed August 8, 2015.
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