Monday, November 1, 2010

Joan Checks In

Our latest movie is Grand Hotel, wherein Joan Crawford appears as Flaemmchen, a stenographer who almost falls into a fate worse than death.  Released in 1932, this movie certainly falls into the Precode period.  With a stellar cast, that includes John and Lionel Barrymore, Greta Garbo, Wallace Beery, and Jean Hersholt, the movie runs several different plotlines that have all managed to intersect by the conclusion of the film.  Most famous as the source of Greta Garbo's most famous line ("I want to be alone"), Grand Hotel is a showcase for MGM's biggest stars. 

The relationship of Crawford's Flaemmchen, John Barrymore's Baron, and Lionel Barrymore's Kringelein is perhaps the most enjoyable part of the movie.  There is a real chemistry among the three, and watching the two Barrymore brothers bounce off one another is a delight.  We also get to watch Crawford's character become infatuated with the Baron (who, of course, is falling in love with the ballerina Grusinskaya - played by Garbo).  When we get  to the conclusion, with Flaemmchen falling into a temptation she finds almost impossible to resist, the Baron getting into a predicament he cannot escape, and General Director Preysing (Wallace Beery) finally getting his comeuppance, we find ourselves mostly satisfied with the ending, if a little saddened by its inevitability.

If you get the opportunity to see the DVD of this film, do check out the excellent mini-documentary that is included in the special features - it is a real treat.  This trailer will give you a look at all the stars:

As Dr.Otternschlag (Lewis Stone) tells us, "Grand Hotel... always the same. People come, people go. Nothing ever happens."  But of course, it does, and with life-changing effects.  Next time, join us for another star-studded Crawford film.

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