The movie finds its characters; a praised ballerina (Garbo), a struggling diplomat (John Barrymore) and a stenographer (Crawford) meeting and mingling amongst all of the guests at a hotel in Berlin called, interestingly enough, The Grand Hotel.
"Grand Hotel... always the same. People come, people go. Nothing ever happens," is an astute foreshadowing comment made by a hotel guest, but only makes the viewers think "aha! well then, something is going to happen this time!" And happens it does.
All of the guests at this hotel seem to have been taken under a spell when entering through the doors. Everyone is cheery and it appears that they believe that their problems will be fixed and they would no longer have to worry about anything. One character even enters the hotel knowing he is going to die, but ends up with various forms of riches before the final scene.
All of these pleasant feelings is good and all, but it's not reality. What's hidden behind the walls of the hotel is the true nature of the people staying there and where the interesting plot thickens. The three main characters even find themselves in a love triangle, because how is John Barrymore supposed to pick between Garbo or Crawford? Overall, a story that begins simple grows slowly, but in the end produces an exciting ending that is not expected.
Watching true movie stars be just that really puts into perspective some actors of more modern films. An extremely exuberant and passionate actress, Greta Garbo, and your eye is continually drawn towards her. Her classic line from this film, "I want to be alone," is ranked number 30 on the Top 100 Movie Quotes by the American Film Institute.
After watching this film I feel like a I can finally put a face on what a true "Old Hollywood" movie looks like. Everything about it from the costumes, the sets, and all of the actors create that regal atmosphere that made everyone at one point in their lives dream about being in a movie.