What You Need To Know:
Nothing objectionable. A portrait of loneliness.
The 1932 classic GRAND HOTEL is a film about loneliness and about people who are lost and have no real sense of commitment. The plot revolves around five characters who have little in common other than loneliness: Greta Garbo plays a manic depressive ballerina at the end of her career; John Barrymore is a jewel thief who longs to be the gentle aristocrat he is inside; Lionel Barrymore is a man with only a few months to live who has come to an expensive hotel to “live” for the first time; Wallace Beery is a dishonest German businessman; and, Joan Crawford portrays a young stenographer trying to make her way in the world.
GRAND HOTEL was one of the most successful movies of its day and was given the 1932 Oscar for Best Picture. While it has a fascinating slice-of-life quality, it is dated due to the dissimilar acting styles of the principals. Greta Garbo and the Barrymores were among the most distinguished actors of their day, which makes one wonder if the director was too intimidated by them to tone them down. The best performances are given by Joan Crawford, and John Barrymore, who invested all of his characters with a beguiling innocence. “No film belongs more to the old golden Hollywood than this collage of star turns checking into and out of an Art Deco hotel in Berlin,” critic Ethan Mordden has written. It is true.