52 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 2004
The Best Picture of 1931-2 "Grand Hotel" deserved it's Oscar and deserves it's place in history as a forerunner of star-studded films to come. The cast alone is worth watching the film for. But the film stands on it's own as well and is smoothly done considering the intertwining stories of various people whose paths (and fates) cross in that posh Berlin establishment. Greta Garbo as a depressed ballerina is one reason to see this but there's John and Lionel Barrymore in great roles, Joan Crawford as an ambitious stenographer with moral issues, Wallace Beery and other recognizable actors in character roles. Warner Bros. has done a good job with the DVD print so this is definitely a collector's item. There are some amazing interior shots inside the hotel with a wonderful art deco look to them. This hotel where "nothing ever happens" is a must for vintage classic film lovers. It's a rare treasure that's been wonderfully preserved for future film lovers to enjoy. See it for a classic look at what going to the movies in the 30's used to be about.
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on July 31, 2001
Although the whole cast deserves accolades, it is the work of Lionel Barrymore that I find compelling. He plays Otto Kringelin, the regular working man who finds himself incurably ill. He decides to spend his last days in luxury at the beautiful Grand Hotel. He makes the acquaintance of a baron (his brother, John), acquires a girlfriend (Joan Crawford), and gets a chance to tell off his boss (Wallace Beery). He achieves the dream that many people have, but never realize. His acting throughout is honest and you find yourself cheering for him.
The casting of this movie shows absolute genius. Garbo is beautiful and engimatic as Grusenskaya the dancer, John Barrymore is the suave but impovrished baron masquerading as a jewel thief, Joan Crawford as Flamchen never looked more beautiful (although she appears in yet another of her stenographer roles), and Wallace Beery comes off well as the ruthless businessman. All of the personalities blend together to make this a memorable film.
The quote "Grand Hotel...people come, people go, nothing ever happens" is the opening and closing line of the movie, but don't let that fool you! A lot happens and this movie is well worth the time it takes you to see it.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2007
I have a particular affinity for films from the pre-code era, and "Grand Hotel" is by far my favorite of this genre. After numerous viewings, I began to understand this wonderful film as a portrayal of the tremendous struggle life must have been for Germans of the Weimar period, even for the entrepreneurial and aristocratic classes, especially in this critical year before power was handed over to Hitler. In this movie, everyone is broke except the mousy little clerk played by Lionel Barrymore, and every character is trying in his or her own way to achieve or hold on to the dream-world lifestyle they remembered from the days before the Great War. The hotel decor is very trendy (the bar seats its patrons practically above the heads of standees) and the rooms are large, plush and satiny.
The high point of "Grand Hotel", for me, is the central love scene between John Barrymore and Greta Garbo, which is probably the most gorgeous ever filmed -- enchanted, poignant and steeped in doom. The actors were also demonstrably attracted to each other, adding depth and authenticity.
I have to disagree with another reviewer here: I find John Barrymore's performance quite restrained, even staid at times, and Garbo's very mannered (and -- listen carefully -- she says "I ouant to be alone", not "I vant..."). Barrymore did plenty of "over the top" performances, but this isn't one of them. Compare "Twentieth Century", "Midnight", or his last film, "Playmates". (Actually, "Playmates", an embarrassing stinker made the year before his death, is valuable for an amazing 30-second jewel in its center -- a tearful impromptu rendering of as much of the Hamlet "To Be" soliloquy as the poor man can remember, in which he seems to grieve the own slings and arrows of his own life and to beg for release.)
Lionel is absolutely priceless, as skillful a comic actor as he is a dramatic one (it is said that comedy is much more difficult). Young Joan Crawford is breezy and delightful, with no evidence of the harridan she was to become later in her career. Wallace Beery is, as expected, wonderfully gross and heavy-handed, but the director forgot to tell him to lose the thick accent, since his character is supposed to be a native German speaker like everyone else (except, perhaps, Jean Hersholt's).
People say that this movie is dated. Of course it is! So are "It's a Wonderful Life", "Casablanca" and "The Wizard of Oz". Every movie, even a classic, carries the style and ambience -- as well as the limited technology -- of the era in which it was made. A film's date should not be a criticism but an invitation to a treat for latter-day viewers: time-travel into a universe their own older loved ones may have inhabited.
39 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2004
"Grand Hotel" concerns guests staying at Berlin's Grand Hotel. There's the high strung, tempermental ballerina (Greta Garbo), the sassy vamp-like stenographer (Joan Crawford), the boorish industrialist (Wallace Beery), the stricken labourer (Lionel Barrymore)and the devilishly handsome baron (John Barrymore). These seemingly separate lives cross over - some happily so, others with tragic circumstances - all thoroughly absorbing and brilliantly performed. At the time of its release "Grand Hotel" was the first movie to feature more than one star above the title credits.
TRANSFER: After years of looking as though the camera negative had been fed through a meat grinder, this DVD digital remastering is a considerable improvement. Having said that, a lot of work is still needed to get this one looking up to par. Solid blacks are about the best thing on this DVD. Contrast levels appear too low in many of the scenes. There are a considerable number of age related artifacts and quite a bit of film grain present on this 70 plus year old classic. The audio has been extensively cleaned up but continues to exhibit considerable hiss. Truly, if this is a special edition it's one of the poorest I've seen.
EXTRAS: Some featurettes that round out the history - if too briefly, of this classic film.
BOTTOM LINE: "Grand Hotel" is undeniably engrossing and a brilliant Oscar winner that is sure to enthrall for decades to come! For the film and NOT the transfer, this is an absolute must for your film library!!!
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2013
MGM's 1932 all-star extravaganza, GRAND HOTEL, was the first of its kind to include several major box-office names in one production. The film utilized a wide range of filming techniques - overhead crane shots, moving camera, cross cutting, artistic lighting and long takes - to infuse emotion and drama into its premise which takes place entirely at a posh Berlin hotel while overlapping the individual crises of its patrons. It was a novel idea and proved extremely successful, spawning many similarly structured films such as DINNER AT EIGHT (MGM,1933), WEEKEND AT THE WALDORF (MGM,1945), THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY (Warner Brothers,1954), and THE V.I.P.S (MGM, 1963), to name a few.
Based on a novel and play by Vicki Baum, GRAND HOTEL was directed by Edmund Goulding and stars Greta Garbo, John and Lionel Barrymore, Joan Crawford and Wallace Beery all in roles of equal importance, and each shines in what counts among their best performances. The luminous Garbo is perfect as a tired of life ballerina, her stylized acting captures just the right note of eccentricity. This is the film in which she utters her signature line, "I want (not "vant") to be alone". Crawford is radiant, chic and sensitive as a stenographer assigned to work for boorish business magnate Beery, who, despite his villainous character, manages to generate our sympathy. Beery is the only one to affect a German accent which serves to underscore his menace and alienates him from the other characters. John Barrymore displays his celebrated profile and gives a touching and ultimately tragic portrayal as a thief forced into his trade out of dire need, and Lionel Barrymore is a likeable old fellow who believes he's dying and decides to live it up during his stay at the Grand Hotel.
The hotel itself figures as one of the main characters, and its elaborate art-deco design is showcased to great advantage, consisting of a circular construction and checkered floor tiles, topped off by the main lobby desk and telephone switchboard. Everything was given top-notch treatment, resulting in a film that epitomizes the Hollywood studio system at its very finest. Quality and dignity represented the order of the day in that classical period of filmmaking, and GRAND HOTEL met every expectation both critically and commercially, going on to win Best Picture of 1932. To this day it's still regarded as one of the greatest films of its decade, and has been selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry for being "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant".
The newest Blu-ray release of GRAND HOTEL from Warners is quite grand to be sure, with a clarity and density that outdoes the previous DVD. The grain configuration is tantamount to 35mm film, and details in clothing and background elements are readily apparent. This pristine presentation of an 81 year old film makes one appreciate even more the exceptional skill of the cinematographers of that time. Of course, they also had movie stars with the kinds of fabulous faces that the camera could adore. The audio on this release is clear and crisp, with voices registering at a pleasing pitch without any distortion. All in all, it makes viewing this vintage classic a very enjoyable experience.
The extras are all taken from the DVD: "Checking Out" - a making-of documentary, the Grauman's Chinese Theater premiere newsreel, "Just a Word of Warning" Theater Announcement, the Vitaphone spoof "Nothing Ever Happens", and trailers for GRAND HOTEL and WEEKEND AT THE WALDORF - a 1945 semi remake. The only new feature is a well researched commentary by Jeffrey Vance and Mark Vieira which adds insight and is particularly helplful to viewers who are challenged by older movies.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on February 21, 2001
This is a classic film that will no doubt hold your attention the entire time it is on the screen. With stars like the devastatingly gorgeous Greta Garbo and the suave John Barrymore, how could it not? The film also stars Lionel Barrymore, Wallace Beery and Joan Crawford. It's all about the goings-on at a swanky Berlin hotel, where nothing ever happens. But by watching this film one can clearly see that that is quite the opposite. This is a fantastic film that provides not only "grand" entertainment but also allows us to really get to know the characters as if we were staying at the hotel ourselves and observing them.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on April 6, 2002
Lewis Stone tells the audience at the beginning of Grand Hotel that people come and go through the expensive hotel, but nothing ever happens. Of course, the sharp viewer knows irony when he or she hears it, since the film then sets about to disprove his statement. Burglar John Barrymore is at the centre of the action. He's fallen in love with fading ballerina Greta Garbo, befriended dying office worker Lionel Barrymore who is at the hotel to live life before he dies, offended businessman Wallace Beery who is on the brink of financial ruin, and worked his considerable charm on stenographer Joan Crawford who has come to the hotel to work for Beery, but her job may go beyond typing. Everyone is at a turning point in their entwined lives, and these moments are played out in various plot lines that link together beautifully. Both Barrymores and Beery, along with Stone and Jean Hersholt give their customary excellent performances. There are two surprises in the film: Crawford and Garbo. I haven't seen Crawford in a lot of films since she holds no appeal for me as an actress. But in this film she lights up the screen with warmth, humour, energy, and real emotion. Her phone scene with Lionel Barrymore is a great moment in the film. Garbo, on the other hand, disappoints me in this film. Apart from her famous moaning of vanting to be alone, she is excessively theatrical. It's not easy to make a successful film with so many linked subplots, but Grand Hotel pulls it off with style, drama, fine acting, and humanity. Nothing ever happens? I don't think so!!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I bought "Grand Hotel" for the sole purpose of being an ardent Joan Crawford fan.
Winner of the 1932 Academy-Award for Best Picture the movie is a who's who of 1930's cinema including Crawford, Greta Garbo, Lionel Barrymore, Wallace Beery and so many others. The plot centers on a variety of colorful characters taking residence in a huge and beautiful hotel in Berlin, the problems the face and the ultimate outcome of their lives.
"Grand Hotel" has been selected as one of those rare films to be preserved by the National Film Registry for preserving and is still highly regarded as one of the greatest movies of all-time.
The film makes its debut on Blu Ray on January 8th, 2012 and is in widescreen format, contains all the special features that were on the DVD release including footage of the Hollywood premiere, a wonderful and informatibe documentary on the making of "Grand Hotel" called "Checking Out: Grand Hotel" and trailers.
Commenting many years later Joan Crawford had only wonderful things to say about the film (it was the only movie in her whole career to ever win the Oscar for Best Picture), but she stated she was heart sick that she didn't have any scenes with Garbo (her idol). According to Joan on the set one day Greta Garbo went up to Crawford, grabbed her by the face and said, "You have such a lovely face my daarling...it is too bad we have no scenes together" in her beautiful accent. Joan stated, "If there ever was a time I could have been a lesbian it was at that moment!".
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2004
If you want to know about Hollywood splendor... this is your movie. The "golden age of the movies" greatest studio was the MGM and Mr. Mayer and company put all the best in this brilliant adaptation of Vicki Baum novel. I love every frame of it. The art deco, the music, the stars... Oh, my God! This is cinema! The cast is superb. The Barrymore brothers, the little Crawford (then), the great Beery. And Lewis Stone, what a kind of gentleman and good actor. And Garbo, of course. When she is sad, you are sad. When she is happy, you are happy. And when she said: "The sun!". Is summer for us.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on December 16, 2007
This movie will be on TCM on Thurs. 3-27 @ 8PM!
All the guests at this posh Berlin hotel come and go with their own problems. Some suffer through heartache and some go through scandal and others suffer fools gladly. There really isn't a common storyline or a thread that keeps them all together, except for the fact that they are all at the Grand Hotel! So, as you probably know "Grand Hotel" has already been released on DVD (and VHS.) But the newest incarnation of this 115 minute black and white M-G-M classic is the first and only special edition which promises to be a fan-favorite! Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford!! It can't get any better than that...!!!
You know, I really wish Warner Home Video would release the DVD cover for this film. After all, Joan was the most photogenic (not to mention photographed) movie star of the Golden Age. This extraordinarily beautiful lady deserves to have her photo shown. And in "Grand Hotel" Joan looks devastatingly beautiful. Joan was always a knockout, but in this picture she was such a hot mama. I added some photos at this link for you, which includes a rare doctored picture of Joan and Greta Garbo (who absolutely refused to be in any publicity photos with Joan!!)
"Grand Hotel" had its world-premiere on April 12, 1932 which caused a huge sensation. At the time of its production, there had never been an "all-star cast." "Grand Hotel" absolutely changed the way movies were made! This movie had a ton of first-rate stars! Joan played Flaemmchen, the sexy little stenographer! And this was one of the very few movies that Joan made for M-G-M where she did not take first billing! In fact, she didn't even take second billing; she came in third, after John Barrymore (Baron Felix von Geigern!) The true star of this picture wasn't Miss Crawford (although she managed to steal the show,) but it was the one and only Greta Garbo (as Grusinskaya, the dancer.) If Joan was the most powerful lady in Hollywood, then Greta Garbo was the most powerful woman in the world! Ms. Garbo had the balls to call all the shots while she beat the good ole boys at their own game! Also included in this classic film are: Wallace Beery (Preysing,) Lionel Barrymore (Otto Kringelein,) and Lewis Stone (Dr. Otternschlag!)
Why is "Grand Hotel" so perfect? Well, for a variety of reasons... All of the performances are so first-rate; everyone was completely supreme! When Grusinskaya looked so happy (after she fell in love) you could see that this ice-princess' cold heart (did she have even have a heart?) was actually beginning to melt! And when Joan, as the little stenographer flirted with all the men that she came into contact with, you believed her because this was the kind of girl that your mother always warned you about. Besides the first-class acting, the cinematography was beautiful. Not since Metropolis has there been such a stunning art deco picture!
In 1932 Joan was just banging 'em out left and right! Besides "Grand Hotel," she also had two other classic film debuts! You might remember, that she also had the perennial favorite, "Letty Lynton," which overtime has become a huge favorite among Joan's fans. And, her third film of the year was United Artists' Rain. Of course you know that Joan never forgave herself for making that movie because it was a huge flop. But again, over time this picture has earned a huge cult-following. More than a quarter of a century later, when asked about these three films Joan said, "Still, two out of three isn't bad." As far as I'm concerned Joan never had anything to be ashamed of! And, I dare say that Miss Crawford pitched a perfect game with three out of three masterful movies in '32!
2008 will surely be just as much Joan's year, just as '32 was! I am so elated because besides the new "Grand Hotel" DVD, there's also a lot more coming out. Joan has her second boxed set that will be out on February 12. This will include some of her greatest pictures, such as: Sadie Mckee,Strange Cargo,A Womans Face,Flamingo Road and Torch Song!!! All of the movies in her boxed set will also be offered individually, on DVD, too! And, 20th Century Fox is finally releasing Joan's '47 classic, Daisy Kenyon on DVD; look for this in March! Here's hoping Johnny Guitar will finally be released on DVD, too! There is also going to be a new book about Miss Crawford which is sure to be one of the most comprehensive and thoughtful books ever written about this talented and larger-than-life superstar; Not the Girl Next Door: Joan Crawford, a Personal Biography (written by celebrity author, Charlotte Chandler) will be out on February 5! And the paperback edition of "Hollywood Martyr" will also be out in Feb., too. (I am not crazy about "Hollywood Martyr," but at least it's not a character-assignation, like most books about poor Joan always are.) I am just beside myself because finally Miss Crawford is being recognized for the talented Movie Queen that she always was!