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A group of very different individuals staying at a luxurious hotel in Berlin deal with each of their respective dramas.

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(by), (play) (as William A. Drake)
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
...
Doctor Otternschlag
...
Senf - the Porter
Robert McWade ...
Meierheim (as Robert Mc Wade)
Purnell Pratt ...
Zinnowitz (as Purnell B. Pratt)
Ferdinand Gottschalk ...
Pimenov
Rafaela Ottiano ...
Suzette
Morgan Wallace ...
Chauffeur
...
Gerstenkorn
Frank Conroy ...
Rohna
Murray Kinnell ...
Schweimann
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Storyline

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 <garyjack5@cogeco.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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Thank The Stars For A Great Entertainment !

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

11 September 1932 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Menschen im Hotel  »

Box Office

Budget:

$700,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

Although correctly signed with licence plates starting with an "I" for Berlin, all the cars are right-steered. In Germany they drive on the right (and ever did so), so the wheels should be on the left. See more »

Quotes

Grusinskaya: Who are you?
Baron Felix von Geigern: Someone who could love you, that's all. Someone who's forgotten everything else but you.
Grusinskaya: You could love me?
Baron Felix von Geigern: I've never seen anything in my life as beautiful as you are.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Interactive Film Quiz (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Piano Concerto No.2 in C minor, Op.18
(1900-01) (uncredited)
Written by Sergei Rachmaninoff
Movement No.1 in the score for the first scenes with Grusinskaya
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User Reviews

Hotel Berlin
28 February 2003 | by (Kissimmee, Florida) – See all my reviews

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 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. (****)


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