'Grand Hotel,' the movie, hasn't lost its glitter

March 14, 1991|By Lou Cedrone | Lou Cedrone,Evening Sun Staff

"GRAND HOTEL," the musical in its last weekend at th Morris A. Mechanic Theatre, is remarkably faithful to the 1932 film on which it is based.

The film version, a classic, was the blockbuster of its day. It was big in every way -- in story and production -- and above all, it had star power.

Greta Garbo, John Barrymore, Joan Crawford, Wallace Beery, Lionel Barrymore, Lewis Stone and Jean Hersholt were in the cast. John Barrymore almost didn't make it. Garbo, still hoping to salvage the career of her ex-lover, John Gilbert,

When the film opened in Baltimore at the Auditorium (later, the Mayfair), it was shown twice a day. The admission price was $1.50, a nice sum in those Depression days.

''Grand Hotel'' is based on the Vicki Baum novel. In the film version, Garbo was the ballet dancer, Crawford was the stenographer who was all too willing to sell herself, and John Barrymore was the Baron-thief who broke into the ballerina's room and fell in love with her. Hersholt was the bell captain who couldn't leave his post to attend the birth of his child.

The film version can be rented at some (but not all, so call first) video stores. Maryland Public Television (channels 22 and 67) is scheduled to show the movie tomorrow night at 10:30.

It is surprisingly entertaining. Some of the acting is dated, Garbo's in particular, but most is not.

They're all gone now, Crawford, Garbo, the Barrymores, Stone and Hersholt. Their film, however, lives on. They say they don't make them like that anymore (the stars and the films). ''Grand Hotel'' is proof of that

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