Grand Hotel / Anna Karenina
Sun 3/17/2024 • 7PM PDT
Billy Wilder Theater at the Hammer Museum
Greta Garbo heads an all-star cast in this sophisticated ensemble drama about the denizens of a luxurious Berlin hotel. Based on Vicki Baum’s stage play and famed — not to mention much-imitated — for its intricate interweaving of multiple characters and storylines, Grand Hotel features Garbo as a depressed ballerina romantically revivified by John Barrymore’s gentleman thief, but the film also notably includes Joan Crawford in a breakthrough role as a gold-digging stenographer, Wallace Beery as an arrogant industrialist and Lionel Barrymore as his beleaguered bookkeeper. A huge critical and popular success, Grand Hotel earned an Academy Award for Best Picture and has since endured as a classic of the early sound era in Hollywood.
DCP, b&w, 115 min. Director: Edmund Goulding. Screenwriter: William A. Drake. With: Greta Garbo, John Barrymore, Joan Crawford.
In Anna Karenina, Garbo reprised her role as the tragic heroine she first portrayed in Love (1927), a silent version of Tolstoy’s classic 19th-century Russian novel. The streamlined story, supplemented by meticulous period costumes and decor, traces Anna’s loveless marriage to the hypocritical Karenin (Basil Rathbone) and her ultimately ruinous affair with the charismatic Count Vronsky (Fredric March). Capably directed by Garbo stalwart Clarence Brown, the film was a popular hit and something of a mini-comeback for its elusive star: “Greta Garbo, after several years of miscasting, is back at last in her own particular province of glamour and heartbreak, of tragic lovely ladies and handsome ruthless men” (New York Sun).
35mm, b&w, 95 min. Director: Clarence Brown. Screenwriters: Clemence Dane, Salka Viertel. With: Greta Garbo, Fredric March, Basil Rathbone, Freddie Bartholomew. From the collection of the George Eastman Museum.