A world-weary prima ballerina, desperate for love. A noble cat thief, desperate for money. A dying clerk, out on a last fling. His industrialist boss, passionate & brutal. A pretty young stenographer, willing to do almost anything to get ahead. A hotel bell captain, anxious to hear about his pregnant wife. And a cynical, war-scarred doctor. Destiny awaits them all in one of Europe's most renowned establishments - Berlin's GRAND HOTEL.This is considered to be the first `all star' movie. It was certainly MGM's most opulent film up to that time. The studio loaded it with an A <more>
List of star performers: Greta Garbo, uttering her trademark phrase, `I want to be alone.' Radiant in love, one can only imagine the despair that awaits her after the film ends.John Barrymore, suave, sophisticated & ultimately tragic.Lionel Barrymore, in a performance that will stay in your memory, slowly dying.Wallace Beery in a heavy role, all bullying bluff & bluster.Joan Crawford, tough as nails & good as gold.Lewis Stone, Jean Hersholt, Rafaela Ottiano & Ferdinand Gottschalk all lend sterling support.There was concern that putting so much talent into one film, instead of spreading the stars out over 4 or 5 films, would lose the studio money. Not to worry. It was a great success, financially & critically. Watch how the plot weaves the threads of the characters' lives into a finished tapestry. One of the great movies. Tremendously satisfying.
It's interesting that the Best Picture of the year before Hitler came to power in Germany, set in Germany, made no mention of the political situation in the country at the time. There was mention of the Depression Germany and the rest of the world was in and all five of the principal players were affected by it, one way or another. John Barrymore, Lionel Barrymore, Greta Garbo, Wallace Beery, and Joan Crawford all check into the Grand Hotel one day and their lives are never the same. Greta Garbo is the temperamental Russian ballerina Grusinskaya and her artistic tantrums are getting less <more>
and less tolerable in many ways because of the Depression. John Barrymore is the aristocrat now living in genteel poverty. His world ended with World War I, but the Depression reduced him to being a sneak thief. Lionel Barrymore is the terminally ill bookkeeper who now just wants to spend his last days living it up. He's just going to ignore the Depression. Wallace Beery is the Prussian industrialist who's used to high living having married the boss's daughter, but his firm as so many others is about to go under unless he can pull off a merger. Lionel Barrymore is one of hundreds who work for him and know what an extremely little man he is, that Beery is really lacking in any real ability for business. Finally there's Joan Crawford who's a working class girl, hired as a stenographer by Beery who has other things on his mind for Crawford.Whether in Germany or America Joan Crawford is the eternal shop girl. To her credit she does not attempt any kind of a Teutonic accent and her performance rings true. This is in complete contrast to Susan and God where she was consciously trying to imitate Gertrude Lawrence from the stage. This was the Depression in America too and many could identify with her.No one epitomized class and old world elegance like John Barrymore, he was not better on film than here in Grand Hotel. He hates the life that poverty has reduced him to. Using his old world charm as a facade for being a thief tears him inside. Meeting Greta Garbo gives him a last chance at redeeming his life.Garbo's performance is one of her best as well. I'm not sure any other actress could have made you sympathize with the temperamental ballerina. In the hands of anyone less skilled, the audience would have sympathized with the management of her ballet company who want to can her. When John Barrymore enters her life he's like the audience she entertained over the years rolled up in one person who still cares about her the individual. It's a last chance for happiness for her as well.Wallace Beery had a funny thing not happened to him in Grand Hotel which I won't reveal might have been quite comfortable with the regime to come in Germany. Beery is the only one in the film to attempt any kind of Germanic speech and he does succeed in his portrayal of the hateful industrialist Preysing.My favorite in Grand Hotel has always been Lionel Barrymore. Lionel may very well have been the most talented in the Barrymore family. Playing the gentle, terminally ill Kringelein is light years different from Mr. Potter in It's A Wonderful Life or Captain Disko Troup in Captains Courageous. Three very different roles yet Lionel Barrymore imprints his personality on every one. A meek little man, he's got courage enough now, courage that comes when you have absolutely nothing to lose.Grand Hotel is now 75 years old. The style of acting you see here is old fashioned indeed, no one could remake Grand Hotel today in the same style. It's melodramatic, but it works. It's a fascinating look into the last days of the Weimar Republic as seen from the balcony of a suite at the Grand Hotel in Berlin.
More than 70 years later and it stood the test of time. Edmund Goulding directs the movie which starts at a slower pace but towards as things proceed, pace picks up. Greta Garbo was definitely the star of the time but here she's quite a drama queen. It's Joan Crawford who gives the best performance and has a more fleshed out role than Garbo . The actress indeed has a stronger presence than Garbo and she's simply terrific. Lionel Barrymore and John Barrymore are equally impressive. Lionel is particularly good in balancing his characters tragedy and comedy. The supporting cast is <more>
adequate.The cinematography is amazing as it gives us a marvelous glare of the grandness of the Grand Hotel, the overhead shot of the operators who're connecting the incoming calls, and then focussing on the different characters who're all either desperate for money, happiness or nothing as they are satisfied with what they have e.g. the head hotel clerk . Everyone is shown to be busy with their own individual life and this is further stressed on in the final scene.In addition to that, the set designs are spectacular reflecting the indifferent atmosphere and the beauty of the hotel. The reference to the War is also put in a very subtle way as the film was made in the 30s through the Baron's story and the scar on the doctor's face. Some might be bored in the beginning due to the slow pace but just bear with it, the film does get better and one will indeed understand why it stood the test of time. A grand classic it is indeed!
GRAND HOTEL Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1932 , directed by Edmund Goulding, from the stage production by Vicki Baum, marks one of MGM's most prestigious projects. Other than being one of those rare films from the 1930s to be frequently revived, if not overplayed, on television over the past decades, it has stood the test of time solely due its impressive all-star cast. Of the five major leading actors, feature billing goes to Greta Garbo, MGM's most important box-office star to date. Unlike other Garbo films, GRAND HOTEL, is not all Garbo. She shares screen time with other top-named MGM <more>
performers, ranging from John and Lionel Barrymore, Wallace Beery and Lewis Stone. The only other major actress to appear in this production is the youthful and down-to-earth Joan Crawford, who, in fact, is on screen more than the legendary Garbo. While many might consider Crawford the best of the two female stars, Garbo, who's acting style is somewhat different from the others, should be observed and studied. Her role as Grusinskaya, the Russian ballerina, is performed two ways, that of a lonely, depressed dancer striving for success, then, after encountering the Baron John Barrymore , becomes full of joy and laughter. Watching this transformation on screen is like seeing the two sides of Garbo.Edmund Goulding directs this 113 minute drama at a fast-pace, starting its opening with overhead camera shots of numerous switchboard operators connecting the incoming calls, followed by the brief introduction of the central characters conversing on the telephone in the hotel lobby: Senf Jean Hersholt , the head hotel clerk, awaits the news of his wife who is about to give birth to their child; Otto Kringelein Lionel Barrymore , a bookkeeper, diagnosed with an incurable disease who quits his job to enjoy his remaining days to the fullest; Preysing Wallace Beery , a no-nonsense industrialist staying at the hotel to negotiate a business deal with important clients; Suzette Rafaella Ottiano , the maid to the famous Russian dancer, Grusinskaya, who expresses concern about her employer; Baron Felix Von Greigern John Barrymore , an adventurer traveling with his Dachshund dog, desperately in need of money to pay off a heavy debt, planning his latest robbery by stealing valuable jewels from the famous ballerina; and Otternschlag Lewis Stone , a scarred doctor who walks about the hotel lobby, observing the goings on, and reciting to himself quietly, "Grand Hotel, people come, people go, and NOTHING ever happens!" Things start to happen as Flaemmchen Joan Crawford , a stenographer with ambition, is hired by Preysing as his personal secretary. She soon makes the acquaintance of the handsome Baron and the poorly dressed Kringelein. Later that evening, after the lonely and unhappy Grusinskaya Greta Garbo leaves the hotel for the theater, the Baron sneaks into her room from the outside window to rob her. After she returns, the Baron, still there, hides himself, only to take notice that Grusinskaya, unhappy, intends on taking her own life. He suddenly appears, telling her he's one of her biggest admirers. In spite of telling the Baron that she wants to be alone, the Baron remains and confesses everything. How will the Baron be able to get money he so desperately needs? As for the other guests, will Preysing, a married man with two grown daughters who has made Flaemmchen his mistress after working hours, succeed with his business negotiations? Will Flaemmchen continue to get something out of life by not being particular on how she does it? Will Grusinskaya marry her beloved jewel thief Baron or will she go on with her career? Will Kringelein find the happiness he deserves before he succumbs? What will his hotel bill be after checking out from most expensive hotel in Germany? Will that kill him before his illness does?While GRAND HOTEL could have told its stories in separate installments, it's done as one film focusing on separate characters through different time frames. Of the central characters, only Senf, the hotel clerk Hersholt is the least important, appearing only in a few scenes unrelated to the plot. Lewis Stone's role is also secondary, but memorable, especially with his opening and closing lines. Wallace Berry, is cast against type, sporting glasses, a short haircut, mustache and the only American actor speaking with a German accent. Lionel Barrymore, sporting a derby, over-sized clothing, thick mustache and glasses, is almost unrecognizable as Kringelein. In fact, he almost comes off best over all the major actors. Although playing a tragic figure, he does have a classic drunken comedy bit, along with a poignant scene where, after winning a large sum of money playing cards, discovers that his wallet containing all his money, is missing.Fortunately, GRAND HOTEL does not play like a filmed stage play. The art deco and luxurious sets are a sight to behold. And why not? The Grand Hotel happens to be the most expensive and luxurious hotel in Berlin. GRAND HOTEL obviously registered well upon its release. It won the Academy Award as Best Picture of 1931/32. In later years, GRAND HOTEL has become imitated and spoofed many times. MGM remade GRAND HOTEL as WEEKEND AT THE WALDORF 1945 , modernizing the story to contemporary New York City with World War II background, featuring its top marquee names of the day: Ginger Rogers, Lana Turner, Walter Pidgeon and Van Johnson. It was later adapted into a Broadway musical in the 1990s. Both screen versions are available on video cassette, DVD and Turner Classic Movies cable television. For a good time with a film classic, check in the GRAND HOTEL and see what the stars are doing for the weekend. ****
Some seventy-odd years after its release in 1932, GRAND HOTEL today holds an interesting attraction more for the presence of its two leading ladies than from its cinematic power, although there will be some purists who will state that because the images of Joan Crawford and Greta Garbo have been immortalized in their own respective canons, that in itself is cinematic power. I personally won't argue, preferring to stick to my own personal views instead of following the herd.I've seen GRAND HOTEL twice now, and I'll grant it that despite its soap-opera like story lines, there seems <more>
to be something a little deeper going on which is only alluded to in the sidelines: the delicate tightrope which Flammchen Joan Crawford walks on as she is courted by Presyling Wallace Beery and later on decides to stay by Otto Kringelein's Lionel Barrymore side. This was most probably unintentional since sources state that the screenplay follows the story closely, but today's values would have Flammchen behave much differently. I find her character to be the moral opposite of Barbara Stanwyck's amoral Lily Powers in BABY FACE, another woman who uses her sexuality to advance to the top. Joan Crawford's Flammchen doesn't actively use her charms as sort of glide by while positively glowing and stealing all of the light from Garbo, and one can sense that were she of a much different nature, all of the men in GRAND HOTEL would have a dangerous young woman to deal with, and Barrymore's end would be similar to J. Howard Marshall's demise in the hands of a much smarter, less coked-up Anna Nicole Smith. She'd more than likely wind up owning the hotel herself in no time.But not to digress. The plot moves along in a nice pace thanks to Goulding's direction; never does it linger on too much on one specific character, though at least for me, anytime Garbo was on screen the story came to a crashing halt. I'm going to get a lot of flack from rabid Garbo fans, but I don't get "her allure, her mystery," the essence that made her so intriguing. At twenty-seven, she already looks ten years older thanks to her severe nature. Her face is constantly in a frown, moody, full of angst reflected in her throaty voice. Her performance is so atrociously mannered I can see Jennifer Jason Leigh easily out-doing her, but better, more authentic anyone who recalls her exacting yet eccentric portrayal of Dorothy Parker can easily see her becoming and improving Garbo . I never got to see what her character with the unpronounceable name was all about; no true trauma, just this death-wish to be "left alone." Then she capriciously takes on with the Baron von Geigern a dashing yet shady John Barrymore who is more interested in her jewels but tells her he could love her; he out-acts her at every turn with subtlety and genuine charm even when his part seems underwritten. In short, Garbo, for all her "mystique" is the sore thumb of GRAND HOTEL.I much prefer the events surrounding Crawford and the older Barrymore. Lionel Barrymore, the horrible villain from IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, plays a meek former bookkeeper who is at the end of his life and wants to enjoy his stay at the hotel. His wish is quite simple: he wants to enjoy his last days, a diametric opposite to Garbo who wants to be alone and she says it three times . He teams up with Crawford, enjoys a dance with her and falls for her even though she's much too young. All the time I got the sensation he knew the character of Kringelein, a man who has been pushed around by Preysling and is still not quite free of his micromanaging shadow. There is not a shed of ego in his performance. One can imagine seeing Crawford reach out to the older gentleman and actually making his days happier and is a fitting ending to her own storyline as she is lecherously pursued by Wallace Beery and romanced by John Barrymore. If anything, her character is the most sympathetic of the five main characters and the symbol of the emerging modern woman of the Thirties: ambitious but girlish, efficient but not a workaholic, smart and independent despite struggling to make ends meet.GRAND HOTEL hasn't aged well. Its values were the thing back in the Depression era, showing glossy characters who were all looking for some form of security while surrounded by the exuberance of the hotel and who were not given much depth in their characterizations. The characters are more or less archetypes and are predicted to act in a certain way, and when their fates collide, it's now not a surprise. Now, what it did do was set the standard for lavish productions involving a roster of well-known actors and stars in a perfect balance of talent and star-power, most notably seen today in the films of Woody Allen and Robert Altman, but closer to the less intellectually challenging type of high-profile film seen in the 50s and throughout the 70s. I enjoyed it then and now and regard it as a classic film set in a pre-Code Hollywood that has its own ancient beauty, for more reasons than Garbo's mannered face.
What can be said about this film that hasn't been said already? A classic 67 years young - Garbo, two Barrymores, Crawford, and more ... The story of the terminally-ill worker on his last fling, the scheming baron, the boss and the secretary, and the fading ballerina just looks better and better every time you see it. It has some excellent scenes, and despite Garbo playing a character a little too old for her, it comes off. 8/10
Impressive Star Power (by Snow Leopard)
The impressive array of stars is what makes "Grand Hotel" worth watching. It's also a pretty good feat of writing to create enough room for Garbo, Crawford, the Barrymores, and Beery all to operate. Each of them gets good characters and plenty of screen time in which to perform. The plot is not really that great, but it is written so as to bring all of these characters together in one place.Which of the stars gives the best performance probably depends on which character you like the best. They all have their own story lines, and while much of the plot is rather implausible, the <more>
acting is such that you don't notice it that much most of the time. The ways that the characters react and change according to circumstances lets you see some fine performers show what they can do.While it may be old-fashioned now in a number of respects, it's still a good film, and a rare chance to see this many film greats all at once.
Vicky Baum's novel "Menschen I'm Hotel" serves as the basis for this 1932 film that was a vehicle for Greta Garbo. "Grand Hotel", as directed by Edmund Golding, was a magnificent film that had a lot of first class stars of the era in prominent roles. In fact, this seems to be one of the first films to have relied in the prominent "names" it gathered to portray the different characters in the movie.By today's standards, the film is dated, but for a discriminating film fan, "Grand Hotel" is a classic because of the star turns one witnesses. <more>
Also, today's fans have to make concessions for the style of acting that was prevalent at the time. The movies have begun "talking" not long before this film was made and the stars of those silents were still doing their acting in front of the camera as though no one was going to hear them talk. In fact, most of the complaints in comments submitted to this forum would have been different if this was 1932 and the film had just come out.The best advice for anyone new to this film is to sit back, relax, and enjoy the trials and tribulations of the people seen at Berlin's Grand Hotel.The biggest surprise of the film is the shortness of Greta Garbo presence in the film, in which for some unknown reason, she looms large above the rest of the players. As the Russian ballerina Grusinskaya, Ms. Garbo played one of the best characters of her career. Her way of acting is still imbued with what was expected of her.John Barrymore as the Baron Von Geigern, the impoverished nobleman, is key to the story. The moment he meets the great Grusinskaya, he is lost forever. Lionel Barrymore is excellent as the poor Otto Kringelein, who thinks he is going to die real soon. Joan Crawford, is the stenographer Flaemmchen who seems to arise passion among all the men she meets. Ms. Crawford does excellent work in a role she discarded later on in favor of more dramatic appearances.What makes "Grand Hotel" the timeless classic it became is the magnificent camera work by William H. Daniels, a man who knew how to get the best out of Greta Garbo in their many films together. Also the music which is from Franz Lehar's "The Merry Widow" serves as a nice distraction in the background.The most famous phrase in the film "I want to be alone", seems prophetic in retrospect as the divine Garbo had about eight more years in the movies.
MINOR PLOT SPOILERS This is set in Berlin in a beautiful, luxurious hotel. Among the tenants--there's Greta Garbo as Grusinskaya--she's a fading ballerina who is miserable and "vants to be alone; John Barrymore plays the penniless Baron who falls in love with her; Lionel Barrymore plays a man who's dying of an incurable disease--but wants to go out enjoying himself; Wallace Berry plays a ruthless industrial man and Joan Crawford plays a stenographer he hires. This was obviously a BIG production. The sets are elaborate, everything looks perfect and this was the first film with <more>
an all star cast. The script is sharp and the direction moves the story along. Garbo and Crawford are just superb--they're so young and full of life! They play their roles to perfection.But there is one big problem here--the male actors. To put it kindly they're pretty bad. John Barrymore looks like he's a million miles away; his brother Lionel overacts to an embarrassing degree and gets very annoying and Berry chews the scenery. They weaken what could have been a great movie. As it stands I can only give it an 8--but it's still well worth seeing. It won the Academy Award for Best Picture of 1932.