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Grand Hotel (1932)
Director: Edmund Goulding
Writers: Vicki Baum (screenplay), William Absalom Drake (play)
Cast: Greta Garbo, John Barrymore, Joan Crawford, Wallace Beery, Lionel Barrymore
Genre: Drama, Romance

A few days in the life of the guest of Berlin's Grand Hotel. The lives of the guest are varied and through the course of their stay they become entwined with some of their fellow guest. For some this spells disaster, for some joy. CR

MGM's Grand Hotel a 1932 pre-code drama film that broke new ground by being one of the first star studded-large ensemble cast movies. It also holds the record for the only movie ever to win an Oscar for Best Picture without being nominated in any other category. Based on the stage play of 1930 which in return was based on the 1928 German novel Menschen im Hotel by Vicki Baum.

What struck me was that the first 10 minutes or so are dry and I thought the film wouldn't stand up...But then we start getting into the dramatization of the guest and their very different lives and I was hooked.

I didn't even recognize Lionel Barrymore as a kindly older man who has come to the Grand Hotel to die in style. There he meets his former boss, a man who's a self absorbed, heartless man...Played to perfection by Wallace Beery who's better known for his comedy roles.

My favorite story archs, and there's many, was Greeta Garbo and John Barrymore's scenes. Garbo was such a big star at the time that they billed her in the credits by her last name only. In Grand Hotel she oozes deeply wrenched up emotions, like few actors could. One can look at her face and see her heart is breaking. Her co-star John Barrymore is excellent here too as he never overplays his part and never upstages Garbo. His performance elevates hers.

Not to be out done, is a fine performance by Joan Crawford. Joan slumps her body and her mannerism, which is in tune with her character's role as a 'little stenographer' who scarcely has a dime to her name.

Even though Grand Hotel is a pre-code film it's not as risque as some pre-codes though it does have it's moments if you keep your eyes and ears open.