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Directed by Edmund Goulding

United States 1932 112 mins.

Featuring a veritable who’s-who of MGM royalty during the studio’s heyday, including an ascendant Greta Garbo, Barrymores John and Lionel, Wallace Beery, and a sultry, seductive Joan Crawford in an early featured role, Grand Hotel is a clear precursor for the kitchen-sink, domestically-focused dramas of Robert Altman and Paul Thomas Anderson, and was a mid-career triumph for wunderkind MGM producer Irving Thalberg. Grand Hotel follows several narrative strands that routinely intermingle, including the machinations of a rich baron (Beery) as he tries to close a deal, the last days of a despondent accountant (Lionel Barrymore), and the exploits of a jewel thief (John Barrymore). Garbo and Crawford, however, are the most tragic and affecting figures as, respectively, the fallen-from-grace Russian ballerina Grusinskaya and the aspiring actress Flaemmchen. Filled with unforgettable lines from a labyrinthine screenplay adapted from the 1929 novel by Vicki Baum, Grand Hotel is a melancholic yet “dazzling parade of star iconography.”—Dave Kehr, The Chicago Reader. 35mm print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive.

Genres: Drama

Appears in: Bette & Joan