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Five different characters staying at the luxury hotel over the course of two nights intersect in unexpected ways. Linked together by varying forms of desperation, the characters include Grusinskaya, a fading suicidal ballerina; the charming and destitute Baron Von Gaigern who plans to rob Grusinskaya of some valuable pearls; Mr. Preysing, the ruthless industrialist whose entire future rides on a business merger that may not go through; Kringelein, a meek, terminally ill accountant who intends to blow his life savings living his last days in style; and Flaemmchen, an ambitious stenographer willing to do more than just take dictation to get ahead. All of their lives will change during their brief stay, some for the better, some for worse.

Director: Edmund Goulding
Writer: William A. Drake (adapted from the novel Menschen im Hotel by Vicki Baum)
Producer: Paul Bern
Cinematography: William Daniels
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons
Editing: Blanche Sewell
Costumes: Adrian
Cast: Greta Garbo (Grusinskaya), John Barrymore (Baron Von Gaigern), Joan Crawford (Flaemmchen), Wallace Beery (Preysing), Lionel Barrymore (Otto Kringelein), Lewis Stone (Doctor Otternschlag), Jean Hersholt (Senf, the porter).

Why GRAND HOTEL is Essential

The multiple intersecting storylines featuring different characters in Grand Hotel was a revelation in how to tell a cinematic story and had a huge influence on how films were made after its release in 1932.

Production Head Irving Thalberg's idea to use all of MGM's greatest star power in the same film was a revolutionary idea. With the film's publicity boasting "the greatest cast ever assembled," Grand Hotel delivered all of the studio's top talent at the same time. It was a calculated gamble that paid off and soon became a common format for big budget studio pictures. It was Hollywood's first all-star film. Grand Hotel was a risk that turned into a huge hit for MGM. Its success gave a boost to the careers of all involved, and helped MGM survive an economic depression.

Grand Hotel was influential in contributing to the ongoing myth of the Great Garbo, remembered forever as talented and beautiful as well as complex, elusive, and aloof. Her Grand Hotel character Grusinskaya's oft repeated "I want to be alone" line became synonymous with the actress herself and contributed to her mysterious image that followed her throughout her life.

This is the only film in which Greta Garbo and John Barrymore ever starred together. As two of the greatest actors and stars ever to grace the silver screen, seeing them play off of each other is a rare and delightful treat.

Joan Crawford's role as the ambitious stenographer Flaemmchen in Grand Hotel was responsible for giving her career a big boost as she moved towards A-list stardom as a leading lady. Having successfully transitioned to sound film, this part gave her the chance to hold her own against some of Hollywood's heaviest hitters, including Garbo, one of her idols.

by Andrea Passafiume

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