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>
Greta Garbo was true to her sometimes aloof and temperamental reputation. Most notably, she detested having any outsiders watching her at work while she was filming and had no qualms about having people removed from the set, no matter who they were. "...it would have been the same if it had been Jesus Christ," said Lionel Barrymore. "She didn't do it to be snotty. She was frightened. She was like a cat that went under the bed when a stranger came into the room." Edmund Goulding agreed. "In the studios she is nervous. "Rather like a racehorse at the post--actually trembling, hating onlookers. At the first click of the camera, she starts literally pouring forth Garbo into the lens." See more »
When the Baron is stealing Grusinskaya's pearls from her trunk, they can clearly be seen as a very long strand of large pearls. But later when he pulls them out of his pocket to hand back to her, the pearls are small and on a shorter strand. See more »
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 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!
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