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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I've seen "Grand Hotel" at least fifteen times -- more than any other '30s film with the possible exception of two other classics: "King Kong" and Astaire and Rogers' "The Gay Divorcee."
Quite a few others reviewers here have commented negatively on this "creaky" old film. They are correct -- it is -- and yet, who cares? It's utterly wonderful!
The whole cast is superb -- charming, desperate, vulnerable John Barrymore; cynical, sad, appealing Joan Crawford; pathetic, whining, irrepressible Lionel Barrymore; coarse, selfish, all-too-humanly cruel Wallace Beery; and of course, the great Greta Garbo. The supporting cast, led by Lewis Stone and Jean Hersholt, are equally good.
Those who criticize Garbo as over-the-top in her portrayal of the prima ballerina are right. She IS over-the-top, AND she is absolutely glorious, whether wallowing in self-pitying, suicidal despair or radiant as the spring with a new love which astonishes and transports her. What a unique, unforgettable screen presence! What a Goddess!
"Grand Hotel" holds this viewer, anyway, entranced from beginning to end. In addition to the superlative acting, the art deco design is stunning and the music always appropriate.
Creaky? You bet. Do they make movies like this anymore? Nope. Do I wish they did? I sure do.
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