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Grand Hotel Review


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"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.

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What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? Review


Essential
Watching What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? fills one with a sense of nostalgia for a time they may never have known but can always relive. In 1962, Baby Jane's year of birth, the cinema was a wonderful place to be. Films mattered, genres were being stretched, and classics were produced. To Kill a Mockingbird, Lolita, The Manchurian Candidate, Lawrence of Arabia, and Baby Jane - it was quite a year. It was also the time when the late Bette Davis, Hollywood's own Elizabethan matriarch, was performing. A vehicle for Davis and archrival Joan Crawford, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is a stunning testimony to a golden age.

Baby Jane Hudson (played in her older years by a gloriously dilapidated Davis) was a star. As a goldie-locked kindergarten beauty, Baby Jane performed to sold-out audiences in 1917. Sister Blanche, then the plainer of the two, was always reminded of that depressing reality. Standing off-stage left, enviously watching her sister screech through a set of syrupy "I love you daddy" numbers, Blanche could only dream of a future when the audience's eyes and inclinations might shift. And they do. Flashing decades forward with superb audacity, director Robert Aldrich introduces us to a new world, where Blanche is a superstar who, though crippled, is still adored by her fans. Baby Jane is as Baby Jane was destined to be, a pale shadow of her juvenile success.

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Joan Crawford

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Grand Hotel Movie Review

Grand Hotel Movie Review

"People come and people go, and nothing ever happens at the Grand Hotel." Thus observes...

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