Tuesday, March 29, 2011

On Screen -- Grand Hotel (1932)

Joan Crawford

Where do I start ??  As the resident doctor at the "Grand Hotel" states "People come -- people go -- nothing ever happens ..."  This could be the greatest understatement ever uttered in cinema history.  The cast assembled for this film may only be rivaled by the cast of "Dinner at Eight" (1934) or "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" (1963).  The collection of characters is amazing - a tormented/eccentric ballerina, an aristocratic hotel thief, a pompous textile magnate, a sickly and dying bookkeeper, and a flirtatious stenographer are the main characters whose lives intertwine over the course of 24 hours at the "most expensive hotel in Berlin" the Grand Hotel. 

The stellar cast includes Greta Garbo in a  heartbreaking portrayal of "Grusinskaya the dancer".   John Barrymore evokes a sense of pity from the viewer as "the Baron".   Wallace Beery seems larger-than-life as "Director Preysing".   Joan Crawford is young and beautiful as "Miss Flaemmchen".  Lionel Barrymore is the underdog that you root for throughout the entire film as "poor Mr. Kringelein", and Lewis Stone lives out a seemingly wasted life as drunken "Dr. Otternschlag".  Lewis Stone also played opposite Garbo in "Queen Christina" (1933). Grand Hotel was the "Best Picture" Oscar winner in 1932 and was directed by Edmund Goulding ("Dark Victory" and "The Old Maid", both from 1939).

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