Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5. USA, 1932. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Screenplay by Vicki Baum, based on the play America by William A. Drake. Cinematography by William H. Daniels. Produced by Irving Thalberg. Music by Charles Maxwell. Production Design by Cedric Gibbons. Costume Design by Adrian. Film Editing by Blanche Sewell. Academy Awards 1931/1932.
Perfectly enjoyable melodrama that puts a huge assortment of MGM stars in the Grand Hotel for a night and watches them interact and (sometimes) come apart. Greta Garbo tops the pyramid as the Swedish skating star who just ‘vants to be alone’ (though she never really says that), and Joan Crawford is excellent as the secretary who’s a lot prettier under that stenographer’s hat than it at first seems (yeah right, big surprise). Other cast members, including Wallace Beery, Lewis Stone and an assortment of the Barrymores all have stories of their own and they’re all so much fun to peruse. Looks great after sixty years thanks to flashy art deco production design and snazzy costumes by Adrian. The formula was repeated a year later to moderately less success with George Cukor’s Dinner at Eight.