25 July 2002 | gvb0907
Solid Pre-Code Melodrama
"Skyscraper Souls" is something of a poor man's "Grand Hotel." Instead of the Barrymore brothers, Greta Garbo, Wallace Beery, and Joan Crawford, we get Warren William, Jean Hersholt, Hedda Hopper, and Maureen O'Sullivan, but as was often the case in the 30s, MGM's second team plays as well as their first.
For all its stars, "Grand Hotel" now seems pretty creaky and its characters generally not very engaging. The Weimar Berlin setting doesn't help matters; you can almost feel the sense of decay and resignation. "Skyscraper" is it's polar opposite. Although New York is in the grip of the Great Depression, you can't help but be swept up in the picture's vitality. The market may be crashing, but people haven't lost their spunk, especially William's ruthless tycoon, who's just thrown up a 100 story building - try finding one of those in Berlin.
"Skyscraper" moves at a fast pace and its multiple plot lines mesh together quite well. Although it was made 70 years ago, both the financial and romantic entanglements seem very modern. Dave Dwight certainly would be at home in today's board room and most of the women come across as surprisingly contemporary. They aren't exactly feminists, but these girls don't take things lying down.
Highly recommended to film buffs, students of the Depression era, and anyone who enjoys modern melodrama.