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>
MGM studio brass wondered how their top female star Greta Garbo would get along with John Barrymore in their many scenes together. They were both big personalities, and she had her well-known peculiar quirks. As luck would have it, there was no need to worry as the two hit it off from the beginning. On the very first day of filming together, Garbo reportedly greeted Barrymore warmly by saying, "This is a great day for me. How I have looked forward to working with John Barrymore!" Barrymore supposedly was won over immediately. "My wife and I think you are the loveliest woman in the world," he replied. See more »
When Mr. Kringelein drunkenly slams his door shut, the wall visibly shakes. See more »
Setting aside the fact that this is a landmark in the history of Hollywood, it has an unintended effect of foreshadowing the Second World War. GRAND HOTEL, filmed in 1932, is set in a luxury hotel in contemporary Berlin. There are several moments (during scenes with the disfigured doctor in particular) when characters refer to their sacrifices in the First World War. The most pointed remark runs something like "we won battle after battle, only to be told we'd lost the war.") At the time this film was made, Hitler was about a year and a half away from becoming Chancellor. GRAND HOTEL, based on a work by Vicki Baum, who wrote for a German readership, is less a story of the idle rich and the poor who serve them than an observation of the quiet rage stealing over a society whose war wounds only seem to deepen as time passes. Wallace Beery's character, a corrupt industrialist, was, in 1932, a staple of German art and theatre. An American audience in 1932 would merely have seen him as a fat-cat, but, in the Weimar Republic, particularly just before the Nazis took power, such a stereotype was provocative. Watching GRAND HOTEL with a sense of what was about to happen in Germany, one sees not so much a sophisticated soap-opera as a macabre meditation on the genteel side of a very dark phase in history.
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