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Grand Hotel

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I was halfway through the 1933 Academy Award winner, Grand Hotel, and ready to give up on it when all the character development and plot lines soared upward into a great story. The art deco sets and cinematography probably kept me hooked up till then. The characters are a broke baron/cat burgler (John Barrymore), a sexy, hard-shelled stenographer (Joan Crawford), a high-strung prima ballerina (Greta Garbo), a dying nobody (Lionel Barrymore), and a German industrialist (Wallace Beery). The hearts of these vulnerable people are laid bare in the second half of the film. The importance of money to their safety and self-respect became painful to acknowledge, due to history and the present times validating the underlying truth of it. GH was shot during the Great Depression and as I watched it in 2011 when our economy is sliding into an abyss and our cities are Occupied by the 99 percent, I realized nothing much has changed, except our behavior is perhaps lower in standard and our architectural styles a lot uglier. Grand Hotel has a lot to say and a beautiful, visual means of expressing itself. Plus there’s a shock in the last half (I did not see coming), which made the ending all the more powerful. I recommend you Netflix this one.


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