Greta Garbo is at her most radiant and poetic as the melancholy ballerina who finds a reason to dance again after she falls for the down-and-out Baron (John Barrymore) who planned to rob her. In another room a ravishing young secretary (Joan Crawford) succumbs to the advances of an arrogant industrialist (Wallace Beery). In yet another, a fatally ill office clerk (Lionel Barrymore) spends his life savings in a desperate effort to derive some pleasure from this bleak and brief existence. Downstairs at the bar, a disfigured doctor (Lewis Stone) dispenses wry commentary as people come and go. This precedent-setting ensemble piece of frothy, bubbly, tear-jerking super soap cemented the A-list status of its director, Edmund Goulding. It's an oft-imitated, never duplicated spectacle; the old Hollywood star system lighting up the sky with all the wattage at its disposal.
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