Grand Hotel

"Good"

Grand Hotel Review


"People come and people go, and nothing ever happens at the Grand Hotel." Thus observes Dr. Otternschlag (Lewis Stone) of the Berlin hotel that serves as the setting for the Oscar-winning 1932 film. The film, like the hotel, is packed with opulence, and the cast was, at the time, the highest concentration of starpower the screen had ever seen: Greta Garbo as the dancer Grusinskaya whose cold surface is softened by a budding romance with Baron Geigern (John Barrymore); Lionel Barrymore as Otto Kringelein, a critically ill man on an end-of-his-life spree and a former employee of the company owned by the industrialist Preysing (Wallace Beery), whom he dislikes; Joan Crawford as the staff typist who takes up with the sick man; and a supporting cast -- Jean Hersholt, Robert McWade, Ferdinand Gottschalk -- whose fame has dimmed today, but who represented the cream of the crop in a Depression-stricken America.

In 1932, however, the sum was even greater than its parts, and Grand Hotel was such an event that the New York Times review had as much to do with the chaos of the opening-night crowd as with the film itself. Based on the hit Vicki Baum novel, the film introduced the so-called portmanteau genre (Dinner at Eight was the most famed of the follow-ups) in which the lives and stories of a group of diverse people are brought together by circumstances and emerge changed. It also featured Garbo's most repeated line ("I want to be alone"), and its lavish production makes it a touchstone in MGM and Hollywood history.

In that sense, Grand Hotel still offers a lot of entertainment seventy-some years later, and you can admire it today for its now-creaky charm. But as much of what drew crowds in 1932 is lost today: the acclaimed performances (especially that of Lionel Barrymore) now seem broad because film has moved so much further from the stage than it had then, the dramatic devices are long since worked to death, the conclusions of many of the film's small dramas are telegraphed nearly from the time the characters are introduced. The younger Barrymore is still a delight to watch (although shifting trends in male beauty make his fabled good looks a lot more resistible than they reportedly were then), and Garbo, as always, from any distance, shines.

The very best of Hollywood's output from this era -- a film like The Maltese Falcon, say, which followed fewer than 10 years later -- still packs the wallop it did on its first release. Revisiting Grand Hotel is by comparison a nostalgic pleasure, which is something very different. The new DVD release offers a making-of documentary, period shorts, and trailers from the 1945 remake Weekend at the Waldorf. If you're in the mood for a sentimental look back, by all means check in.

Grand dame.



Grand Hotel

Facts and Figures

Run time: 112 mins

In Theaters: Sunday 11th September 1932

Distributed by: MGM Home Entertainment

Production compaines: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Fresh: 27 Rotten: 4

IMDB: 7.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Edmond Goulding

Producer:

Starring: as Grusinskaya - the Dancer, as The Baron Felix von Gaigern, as Flaemmchen - the Stenographer, as General Director Preysing, as Otto Kringelein, as Doctor Otternschlag, Jean Hersholt as Senf - the Porter, Robert McWade as Meierheim (as Robert Mc Wade), Purnell Pratt as Zinnowitz (as Purnell B. Pratt), Ferdinand Gottschalk as Pimenov, Rafaela Ottiano as Suzette, Morgan Wallace as Chauffeur, Tully Marshall as Gerstenkorn, Frank Conroy as Rohna, Murray Kinnell as Schweimann, Edwin Maxwell as Dr. Waitz

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

War Dogs Movie Review

War Dogs Movie Review

Based on a rather astounding true story, this comedy-drama centres on two stoners who landed...

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

Bold and intelligent, this dark drama is a challenging portrait of the making of an...

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...

Advertisement
The Shallows Movie Review

The Shallows Movie Review

With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Watching this gross-out comedy, it's clear that the gifted cast and crew had a great...

Nerve Movie Review

Nerve Movie Review

With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone...

The Carer Movie Review

The Carer Movie Review

Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life...

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.