Better than just a good transcription of the Vicki Baum stage play. Story is many angled in characters and incidents. There is the romantic grip of the actress-nobleman lovers; there is the triumph of the underdog in the figure of Kringelein, the humble bookkeeper doomed to approaching death and determined to spend his remaining days in a splurge of luxury in the Grand Hotel; and there is the everlasting Cinderella element in the not-so-good stenographer who at last finds a friend and protector in the dying Kringelein.
First honors again go to Lionel Barrymore for an inspired performance as the soon-to-die bookkeeper. Greta Garbo gives the role of the dancer something of artificiality, risking a trace of acting swagger, sometimes stagey. Her clothes are ravishing in the well-known Garbo style.
John Barrymore is back where he belongs as the down-at-heel but glamorous baron, going about debonairly in a career of crime but with a heart of gold that will not stoop to small meanness.
There remains the stenographer Miss Flaemmchen, not the most fortunate casting for Joan Crawford, who is rather too capable a type to successfully play an unhappy plaything of fate.
Wallace Beery is at home in the part of the German industrialist, a grandiose but pathetic figure in his struggles with business rivals.
1931/32: Best Picture