Grand Hotel

1932

Grand Hotel

Critics Consensus

Perhaps less a true film than a series of star-studded vignettes, Grand Hotel still remains an entertaining look back at a bygone Hollywood era.

86%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 37

77%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 6,986
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Movie Info

Based on Vicki Baum's novel and produced by Irving Thalberg, this film is about the lavish Grand Hotel in Berlin, a place where "nothing ever happens." That statement proves to be false, however, as the story follows an intertwining cast of characters over the course of one tumultuous day. Greta Garbo is Grusinskaya, a ballerina whose jewels are coveted by Baron von Geigern (John Barrymore), a thief who fancies Flaemmchen (Joan Crawford), a stenographer and the mistress of Preysing (Wallace Beery), businessman boss of Kringelein (Lionel Barrymore), a terminally ill bookkeeper who is under the care of alcoholic physician Dr. Otternschlag (Lewis Stone). Grand Hotel won Best Picture at the 1932 Academy Awards. ~ Matthew Tobey, Rovi

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Cast

Greta Garbo
as Grusinskaya
John Barrymore
as Baron von Gaigern
Joan Crawford
as Flaemmchen
Wallace Beery
as Preysing
Lewis Stone
as Dr. Otternschlag
Robert McWade
as Meierheim
Purnell Pratt
as Zinnowitz
Lionel Barrymore
as Otto Kringelein
Morgan Wallace
as Chauffeur
Tully Marshall
as Gerstenkorn
Murray Kinnell
as Schweimann
Edwin Maxwell
as Dr. Waitz
Mary Carlisle
as Honeymooner
John Davidson
as Hotel Manager
Sam McDaniel
as Bartender
Lee Phelps
as Extra in Lobby
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Critic Reviews for Grand Hotel

All Critics (37) | Top Critics (8)

Audience Reviews for Grand Hotel

  • Jan 01, 2019
    Like all the best ensemble films, this one utilizes its star studded cast perfectly. Crawford and Lionel Barrymore in particular give strong and often quite moving performances.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Aug 08, 2018
    The intersecting stories of guests at the Grand Hotel in Berlin has a star-studded cast, direction from Edmund Goulding which feels modern, and a script that meanders in interesting ways. It also manages to make a few subtle observations about life. I've never really quite fallen under Greta Garbo's spell, but she's well-cast here as the flighty ballerina who becomes despondent, but then falls for an ardent fan (John Barrymore). Barrymore is not just a fan, though, he's a thief and smooth operator. Just moments before he's hitting on a stenographer (Joan Crawford) with lines like "I don't suppose you'd take some dictation from me sometime, would you?" He's then in Garbo's room to steal her pearl necklace, but is interrupted when she and her retinue suddenly return, one by one. It's a fantastic scene, one of many that will keep you wondering where the film is going. John's real-life brother Lionel Barrymore is also here, as a man who has a terminal illness, and is therefore 'living it up' while he can. He revels in drinking, gambling, and telling off the executive (Wallace Beery) of the organization he once slaved in. I had to look up the 'Louisiana Flip' drink he enjoys and keeps wanting to push on others. His performance is a little simpering, but ultimately endearing, as he's realized how transient life is, and yet isn't at all bitter about his fate. His raving, somewhat drunken toast, "Drink to life, to the magnificent, dangerous, brief, brief, wonderful life," is brilliant, and it's telling that his fellow card players don't pay all that much attention to him as they just want to file past and exit. Beery is fantastic, and it's through his character that 'Grand Hotel' makes interesting social criticisms. He starts off assuring an associate that he must maintain his integrity during a critical business negotiation, but then as it falls apart, compromises himself. He's married, but begins paying undue attention to his stenographer (Crawford), wants her to travel with him, and through a sizable cash gift, soon has her planning to stay the night with him before doing that. As he's confronted by Lionel Barrymore's character, it's clear that he's a corporate elite, out of touch with his workers and completely unsympathetic to them. Lastly, when he does something wrong (being deliberately vague here), he tries to get others to lie for him to cover it up. It turns out he has zero integrity after all. The film shows us the importance of having money - Crawford's character needs it to make ends meet, John Barrymore's character needs it to be free from an entanglement, Lionel Barrymore's character has it and is able to enjoy life as a result, and it's an important part of both Garbo and Beery's standing. On the other hand, the film shows us the importance of acting honorably. Crawford doesn't want to exploit Lionel Barrymore, and neither does John Barrymore. Garbo and Lionel Barrymore are both generous, offering to help others. Director Goulding includes overhead shots in interesting ways - looking down the concentric floors of the hotel to the lobby below, above the hotel switchboard operators, and at the front desk. This, along with the sardonic commentary from a doctor wounded in the war (Lewis Stone), helps emphasize how this hubbub of activity is just a very small piece of the world. Life goes on all around us, all over the world, it comes and goes and all is transient, it's born anew by the wife of the porter (Jean Hersholt) who anxiously awaits, and in the next set of guests who come in to the hotel at the end.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Mar 01, 2017
    There's drama afoot in the exclusive halls of the Grand Hotel as the rich and famous cavort to their wont and pleasure. Filmed pre-code, some of yhe drama boldly crosses over into salacious territory: witness as Joan Crawford fields the age old query as to whether she like to "take dictation", and see Greta Garbo dance around in an all but sheer nightgown, heavens! There's very little subtlety here, old style written as if 3rd grade grammar school printing, but, per Thalberg undoubtedly, still a quality presentation. A must for history buffs.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Sep 25, 2016
    The kind of wholesome production made in those days but with a fabulous constellation of stars to make it an unforgettable Hollywood classic - especially Joan Crawford and Lionel Barrymore, who are so great that they even manage to outshine the rest of the cast.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer

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