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Grand Hotel (1932) Poster

(I) (1932)

Trivia

In 1989, a new musical adaptation was produced for Broadway. It opened Nov 12, 1989 at the Martin Beck Theatre in New York and ran for 1,017 performances. Among the replacement cast members during its long run were Cyd Charisse as Grusinskaya (the Greta Garbo role in this film) and John Schneider as Felix Von Gaigern (the John Barrymore role in this film).
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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.
This was one of the first films to be widely parodied in both short films and cartoons.
The original MGM Grand in Las Vegas (where Bally's now stands) was built to resemble the design of this film.
John Barrymore was so thrilled at the prospect of appearing in the film with Greta Garbo that he accepted a three picture deal with MGM.
The only Best Picture Oscar winner not to be nominated for any other Academy Awards.
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Joan Crawford initially objected to her role as Flaemmchen because she feared that much of her performance would be censored for being too provocative and racy. Director Edmund Goulding and producer Irving Thalberg assured her that her part would be filmed in a tasteful manner and that she would be shown in a sympathetic light. Crawford's misgivings were warranted, however, as many censor boards in conservative American states cut the majority of her scenes for indecency.
Depite them not having any scenes together, Joan Crawford often tried to talk to Greta Garbo, and would say "Hello, Miss Garbo" whenever the two would pass each other in the hall. Garbo never responded, so Crawford gave up and stopped saying anything. This led to Garbo stopping Crawford as she walked silently past her, and asking, "Aren't you going to say something to me?"
The biggest Hollywood hit of 1932.
In addition to her reservations about appearing youthful enough to portray a prima ballerina, Greta Garbo was also reluctant to act in a film which included a cast with so many additional stars. Irving Thalberg was able to convince her to take the part by offering to bill her by her last name only in the credits, an honor which was reserved for only the most esteemed actors at the time.
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Joan Crawford was irked by Greta Garbo's insistence on top billing and decided to take her revenge. Knowing that Garbo loathed tardiness and Marlene Dietrich in equal measures, Crawford played Dietrich records between shots and made sure to arrive late on set.
The ensemble cast never actually all appeared together.
Wallace Beery stormed out of rehearsals, saying he would only come back "when Joan Crawford learns to act".
Author and playwright Vicki Baum based "Menschen im Hotel" both on a true story about a scandal at a hotel involving a stenographer and an industrial magnate, and on her own experiences working as a chambermaid at two well-known Berlin hotels.
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The Hollywood premiere of the film promised a performance from Greta Garbo following the film screening. Instead of Garbo, audience members were greeted by her co-star Wallace Beery who appeared on stage in drag. Mimicking Garbo, Beery repeated her famous line, "I want to be alone." The skit was poorly received.
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Originally conceived by MGM production chief as one of the first All-Star vehicles. Conventional wisdom of the time was that you put no more than one or two of your biggest stars in a picture so as to lower production cost and to maximize profits. Grand Hotel (1932) featured 5 of MGM's top tiered stars and was one of the highest grossing pictures in studio history.
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Tickets for the premiere roadshow engagements were as high as $1.50, an extraordinary price for a movie ticket in 1932.
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John Barrymore famously said to cinematographer William H. Daniels: "I'm 50 years old and I want to look like Jackie Cooper's grandson."
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During the filming of the busy lobby scenes, the actors wore socks over their shoes to prevent noise. Reportedly two hundred pairs of woolen socks were worn out daily.
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The film was parodied the very same year in Blondie of the Follies (1932).
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Clark Gable was originally announced as playing Preysing (the Wallace Beery role), but he was thought to look too young.
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In a package deal, MGM purchased both the stage and film rights of Vicki Baum's novel, Menshen im Hotel, for $35,000. The play was a spectacular hit on Broadway, and recouped the studio's initial investment before a single frame of the film was shot.
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Greta Garbo turned down the role not because she refused to share the spotlight, but because she believed that at 27 she was too old to play a prima ballerina.
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The quote "I want to be alone" spoken by Greta Garbo in this movie was listed at #30 in AFI List of Top 100 Quotes From U.S. Films.
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Buster Keaton proposed a comic version set in a New York flophouse entitled "Grand Mills Hotel" with himself in the Lionel Barrymore role. His proposed casting included Marie Dressler as a ballerina, Jimmy Durante as a Bogus count, Oliver Hardy as the industrialist, Stan Laurel as a collar button manufacturer, Polly Moran as the secretary, and Henry Armetta as a hotel clerk and expectant father. Although Thalberg wanted to make it, the comedian had been fired by Louis B. Mayer and didn't wish to return to the studio.
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The role of Suzette was intended for Pauline Frederick but she was forced to pull out due to illness.
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The most expensive seat at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Los Angeles for the film's first run would have set you back $1.50.
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The Hollywood premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theater was one of the film industry's most spectacular promotional events to date. A reproduction of the film's iconic circular reception desk was placed outside the venue, and many of the movie stars who attended the showing were asked to sign the ledger at the desk as if they were hotel guests.
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Buster Keaton was first choice to play the Lionel Barrymore part.
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Wallace Beery also turned down his part, only to take it again when promised that he would be the only actor to act in the film with a German accent.
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Both Greta Garbo and John Barrymore were very wary about working with each other. In actuality they got on quite well, to the extent that she allowed rare backstage photos of them be taken.
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Joan Crawford didn't want to make Grand Hotel (1932), mostly because her character mainly wears just one dress in the film.
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There are no scenes where Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford are in the same frame. This was done to eliminate the possibility that one of the two great stars might upstage the other.
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Greta Garbo requested the stage be lit in red to create a more romantic atmosphere for rehearsals.
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Adapted from the Broadway play "Grand Hotel" by William Absalom Drake, as translated from the German play "Menschen im Hotel" by Vicki Baum. The original Broadway production opened Nov. 13, 1930 at the National Theatre in New York and ran for 459 performances. Rafaela Ottiano originated her movie role of Suzette in the play. Other opening night cast members (with their character names) included Albert Dekker (The Baron), Sig Ruman (Preysing), Sam Jaffe (Kringelein), Romaine Callender (Otternschlag) and Walter Baldwin (Desk Clerk).
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Vicki Baum's original play opened in Berlin in February, 1930.
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Extra scenes with Greta Garbo were added after previews to ensure that Joan Crawford didn't walk off with the picture.
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The theatrical trailer which is commonly shown on behalf of this film was designed for an intended, but unrealized, 1944 re-release, and reflects the promotional style and lettering of the 1940's, not the 1930's. The original 1932 trailer is apparently lost. It would have most likely looked similar in design to the film's opening credit sequence.
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Irving Thalberg originally wanted his wife Norma Shearer to play the role of Flaemmchen. However, she received a lot of fan mail in which fans discouraged her to take the role, after which she refused the part.
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Wallace Beery was originally upset at being cast as Preysing, believing that playing an amoral business tycoon would wreck his image, and tried to stage a "walkout" in protest. When he relented, he reportedly decided to steal as much of the show as possible and constantly tried to upstage the other stars in the film.
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Apparently, there were some suggestive scenes shot between Crawford and Beery including one where they are both holding ends of a garter. These scenes were cut later, but a still is reprinted in Alexander Walker's book, "Joan Crawford, the ultimate star."
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Greta Garbo wanted John Gilbert to play her lover but his recent lackluster box office record precluded that.
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MGM bought the film rights for $35,000 and had already made a profit from the material thanks to the Broadway play.
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In the scene where Greta Garbo utters her famous 'I want to be alone line' you can hear the song 'Lover come back to me', written for the 1928 play New Moon (1930). The bridge of the song contains an excerpt from a piece by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky entitled 'The Seasons, June, Barcarolle'.
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