Grand Hotel (1932)

grand hotel poster 1932 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 8/10

Early character driven film

Ending feels a bit anticlimactic

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Grand Hotel

Studio:  MGM

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  April 12, 1932

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated


So we just met…but want to spend our lives together?

The Grand Hotel has many visitors from different walks of life.  When Baron Felix von Geigern (John Barrymore) finds his fortune gone, he is forced to turn to a life of robbery to support himself.  His target it a Russian ballerina named Grusinskaya (Greta Garbo), but instead of stealing from her, he finds himself falling in love with her.  A secretary named Flaemmchen (Joan Crawford) finds her time at the Grand Hotel dominated by her boss General Director Preysing (Wallace Beery) and his dying belittled semployee Otto Kringelein (Lionel Barrymore).  When the lives of the Grand Hotel intersect, no one will be the same.

Directed by Edmund Goulding, Grand Hotel was written by William A. Drake who also wrote the 1930 play.  The movie and the play are adaptation of Menschen im Hotel, a 1929 novel by Vicki Baum.  It won the Academy Award for Best Picture and holds the distinction of the only film to win a Best Picture award with no nominations in any other catergory.  The movie was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.


I want to be alone

Grand Hotel was a new approach to storytelling in movies when it was released.  It featured different storyline threads and character interactions that was a new concept at the time.  This format of storytelling has been adopted by other films I really enjoy like Nashville, Magnolia, and Mulholland Drive…Grand Hotel is a very simple version of this style of storytelling.

The story of Grand Hotel like an Altman film is almost secondary to the characters.  Here the story is rather half-baked and after Barrymore’s murder fells almost anticlimactic.  It felt like there almost should have been a fourth act where the actions were explained, the characters really met their fate, and there was some resolution…here, the story feels abruptly ended.


What do you mean I have to keep working with Garbo?!?!

Grand Hotel wasn’t the happiest set to be on.  Many of the leads had problems with the other actors.  Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford famously battled on the set, and Wallace Beery also had issues with the problematic Crawford.  The chemistry between Greta Garbo and John Barrymore is good, but some critics disliked that Garbo’s character was supposed to be Russian with Garbo’s thick Swedish accent.  The movie also became known for the Garbo’s classic line “I want to be alone” which many said became the mantra for her life.

Grand Hotel tries to make the best of its location.  There are some rather interesting uses of the set despite the confines.  It could have easily been a standard set shoot, but the movie at least manages to break out of it.

Grand Hotel isn’t the best “Best Picture”, but it is good.  I like what Grand Hotel led to but I wish the film had pushed the format a bit more with more characters and more storylines.  Grand Hotel was remade as 1945’s Week-End at the Waldorf and the format was used for a number of Neil Simon plays.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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