"Grand Hotel. Always the same. People come, people go. Nothing ever happens."
- Doctor (Lewis Stone)
"I want to be alone...I think I have never been so tired in my life."
- Grusinskaya (Greta Garbo)
Academy Awards 1932 -
USA Today - 02/03/2004
"The two actresses are great."
Premiere - 03/01/2004
"[T]his picture is the granddaddy of such modern-day concoctions as LOVE ACTUALLY..."
Total Film - 04/01/2004
"This is Golden Era Hollywood-studio style at its most opulent."
The crème de la crème of MGM's pantheon gathers at the luxurious Grand Hotel, where "nothing ever happens." Greta Garbo is at her most radiant and poetic as the melancholy ballerina who finds a reason to dance again after she falls for the down-and-out Baron (John Barrymore) who planned to rob her. In another room a ravishing young secretary (Joan Crawford) succumbs to the advances of an arrogant industrialist (Wallace Beery). In yet another, a fatally ill office clerk (Lionel Barrymore) spends his life savings in a desperate effort to derive some pleasure from this bleak and brief existence. Downstairs at the bar, a disfigured doctor (Lewis Stone) dispenses wry commentary as people come and go. This precedent-setting ensemble piece of frothy, bubbly, tear-jerking super soap cemented the A-list status of its director, Edmund Goulding. It's an oft-imitated, never duplicated spectacle; the old Hollywood star system lighting up the sky with all the wattage at its disposal.
The Best Picture of 1932 established the episodic narrative device of following the diverse stories of various characters who drift through a location. It was to be repeated onboard ships, trains and planes, in apartment buildings, resorts, anywhere the camera could observe comings and goings and the drama inherent in everyday life. Garbo stands out in an outstanding crowd of the screen's great faces as a world-weary ballerina pining for her jewel thief lover (John Barrymore). Other stories found in a Berlin hotel where "People come, people go, nothing ever happens" revolve around Lionel Barrymore's imminent death, Crawford's social climber and Beery's business traveler. It's one of the greats.
Character Study |
Essential Cinema |
Theatrical release: September 11, 1932.
The film was remade in 1945 as WEEKEND AT THE WALDORF, directed by Robert Z. Leonard starring Ginger Rogers and Lana Turner, and was later turned into a Broadway musical directed by Tommy Tune.