in about 100 words or less
USA 112m, B&W
Director: Edmund Goulding; Cast: Greta Garbo, John Barrymore, Joan Crawford, Wallace Beery, Lionel Barrymore, Lewis Stone, Jean Hersholt
The Grand Hotel boasts one of the first “all-star” casts in Hollywood film making. The story is set largely in the main lobby and adjoining rooms of the hotel, where a large number of interesting characters interact and whose story lines eventually are interwoven. Garbo’s over the top performance as a prima donna Russian dancer is notable for the number of close-ups and some atrocious editing, probably a result of the addition of later re-shoots. In contrast, Joan Crawford’s modern style and exceptionally strong performance highlights Garbo’s then dated efforts. The complexity of the screenplay and quick pace of the film set this production apart from most other early sound films. Although little is eventually resolved in terms of plot, it is the richness of the character interactions which make The Grand Hotel such a noteworthy film (Klaus Ming June 2010).