Grand Hotel: It wants to stand alone

[Screenshot]The overlap, or lack thereof, of “classic cinema” and “classic cinema actors” is interesting. Grand Hotel is perhaps a case in point: Prominent roles are played by Greta Garbo, John Barrymore, and Joan Crawford: three extremely well-known names which aren’t in many films anybody actually watches any more. It’s kind of a shame: they all shine in their roles here with faded luster, oily charm, and sparkling wit respectively. Lionel Barrymore doesn’t do too shabby as the nebbishy Kringelein, either. This one was mostly a superstar performanc,e and it was nice to see some stars I don’t know too well. My only real complaint is one of plot: we’re given an impression early on of a number of different plots running oncurrently, and about half of them coalesce far too quick and the others get sort of left behind. Most notably, Greta Garbo gets the short end of the stick, since she has an extremely interesting depression-and-revitalization plot, one which at the end is played for full pathetic potential, but she disappears pretty much completely for a goodly chunk of the film while the Geigern-Flaemm-Preysing-Kringelein love rhombus plays out. Likewise, Dr. Otternschlag is made out early on to be a major character and a character with a mystery, but he basically ends up filling the role of a narrator more than anything else.

The acting makes this film fantastic, but the setting’s nice too, taken int he context of its age. Nowadays you can get a shot like this in, say, an Embassy Suites, but check out the view of the central chamber of the Grand Hotel. Is that not sexy?

See also: IMDB, Wikipedia.

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About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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