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

Dunkirk Movie Review

Dunkirk Movie Review

Britain's epic 1940 evacuation of Dunkirk has been dramatised on film before, but no one...

Killing Ground Movie Review

Killing Ground Movie Review

From Australia, this dark and edgy thriller is skilfully made by writer-director Damien Power to...

City of Ghosts Movie Review

City of Ghosts Movie Review

This award-winning documentary plays like a thriller as it traces the work of a group...

Cars 3 Movie Review

Cars 3 Movie Review

It's been six years since the last Cars movie (there were two Planes movies in...

The Beguiled Movie Review

The Beguiled Movie Review

In her inimitable loose style, Sofia Coppola remakes the 1971 Clint Eastwood movie from a...

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

The surprisingly thoughtful prequel trilogy comes to a powerful conclusion with this robust, dramatic thriller,...

It Comes At Night Movie Review

It Comes At Night Movie Review

This sharply original horror film not only approaches its premise from an unexpected angle, but...

Advertisement
Okja Movie Review

Okja Movie Review

As Tilda Swinton reteams with her Snowpiercer director, Korea's Bong Joon Ho, it's perhaps unsurprising...

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

This may be the third reboot of this franchise in 15 years, risking audience exhaustion,...

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Actually the fourth film in the series (don't forget the prequel Minions), this animated super-villain...

Baby Driver Movie Review

Baby Driver Movie Review

Wildly energetic and so cool it hurts, this action movie has been put together in...

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

There's a clear sense that this Tupac Shakur biopic is hoping to build on the...

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

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.