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Berlin's plushest, most expensive hotel is the setting where in the words of Dr. Otternschlag "People come, people go. Nothing ever happens.". The doctor is usually drunk so he missed the fact that Baron von Geigern is broke and trying to steal eccentric dancer Grusinskaya's pearls. He ends up stealing her heart instead. Powerful German businessman Preysing brow beats Kringelein, one of his company's lowly bookkeepers but it is the terminally ill Kringelein who holds all the cards in the end. Meanwhile, the Baron also steals the heart of Preysing's mistress, Flaemmchen, but she doesn't end up with either one of them in the end... Written by
Gary Jackson <email@example.com>
Greta Garbo was very particular as to how her love scenes with John Barrymore were shot. She requested red front-lighting and required curtains to be placed between the camera and film crew to help set the mood and create the illusion that she and Barrymore were alone. During one take, Garbo got so carried away with the scene that she continued kissing Barrymore for three full minutes after Edmund Goulding had yelled cut. The bonus smooching footage survives, however, it was not used in the film's final cut. See more »
When Mr. Kringelein drunkenly slams his door shut, the wall visibly shakes. See more »
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. 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.
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