Monday, May 27, 2013

5 Lessons Learned from Checking into Grand Hotel

5 Lessons Learned from Checking into Grand Hotel  
(By Tracey LaMonica and Lara Scott) 

1932’s Grand Hotel is showing this weekend at Old Town Music Hall in El Segundo, CA (,), and this Best Picture Oscar winner is the film we can thank for modern-day ensemble movies like What To Expect When You’re Expecting. Grand Hotel featured the very first all-star cast, with superstars like Joan Crawford, Greta Garbo, John and Lionel Barrymore, and Wallace Beery, and when MGM realized that there was serious coin to be made from this kind of setup, they quickly followed it up with 1933's Dinner at Eight (also with Beery and the Barrymores). As the lives of the guests intertwine at this fancy hotel, we learn a few life lessons, such as the value of surrounding yourself with Art Deco and carving out some quiet time for yourself. 

1. Don’t hit on your hired stenographer. You hired her to type. Besides, she wants a titled man, like the Baron. If she rejects you, do not drape yourself across her bed, even if she is lounging pensively with her legs in the air. Try to hang onto a shred of your dignity. 

2. If you’re a stenographer and DO want your boss to chase after you, employ “The Smear.” Legendary makeup artist Max Factor came up with the idea of exaggerating Joan Crawford’s natural lip line and painting her mouth dramatically, and it was a look that she kept for the rest of her life. Wallace Beery is not the only one who can’t keep his eyes off her mouth; we are in awe. Btw, here’s what Joan herself said about Grand Hotel (quote from “Little Joan was called upon to match Garbo, Beery, and the Barrymores, and she came off smelling like a rose.” 

3. Don’t bother the fading ballerina, Baron. She is tired and wants to be alone. The line that is famously associated with Greta Garbo (“I vant to be alone.”) was actually uttered by her character, Grusinskaya, in Grand Hotel. Even though your career is on the decline and you need a nap, when the man who steals your jewels admits to his crime, practice forgiveness and invite him to go on a trip with you. 

4. When you can’t find a woman to charm, Baron – there is always your dog. Since Baron has fallen out of love with Flaemmchen (Joan’s character) , and (to be honest) the ballerina seems a little high-maintenance, there is always your very loyal little dog waiting for you. And he DOESN’T vant to be alone. Admit that your dog is the one thing in the world you really love, and kiss him. 

5. Surround yourself with glorious Art Deco, and allow your set to become another superstar co-star. Designed by MGM art director/production designer Cedric Gibbons (who was married to actress Dolores del Rio), it is an Art Deco wonder. The vertigo-inducing circular staircase, the round desk in the lobby, and the black and white checkered floor pattern showcase early 1930s glamour at its finest. Unlike the Hotel California, this is one place we would like to check into and never leave! 

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