Grand Hotel (1932)



Critic 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.

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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
Classics , Drama , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
MGM Home Entertainment


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
Rolfe Sedan
as Clerk
Lee Phelps
as Extra in Lobby
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Grand Hotel

All Critics (35) | Top Critics (7)

Each and every performer in the screened "Grand Hotel" does a remarkable piece of work. To us, Garbo is the supreme of magnificence.

Full Review… | February 17, 2015
New York Daily News
Top Critic

As it is, the hotel is well filled.

Full Review… | February 17, 2009
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

A commercial picture of high box office potential, first by assembling the most impressive aggregation so far of strictly Bradstreet screen names, and then by filming the play practically unaltered in form.

Full Review… | January 29, 2008
Top Critic

Less effective as a movie than as a dazzling parade of star iconography.

Full Review… | December 12, 2006
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

The Nashville of its day, Grand Hotel's reputation has outgrown its actual quality

Full Review… | June 23, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

It is a production thoroughly worthy of all the talk it has created and the several motion-picture luminaries deserve to feel very proud of their performances, particularly Greta Garbo and Lionel Barrymore.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Grand Hotel


Various guests, including an aging dancer, a dying accountant, a business magnate, a beautiful stenographer, and a thief, stay at a posh German hotel. It takes a long time - perhaps twenty minutes - for this film to get started, and during that exposition I thought that director Edmund Goulding would attempt to pass off the hotel as the main character. However, once the film realizes that John Barrymore and Greta Garbo are in it, it picks up steam on the strength of the performances by these two exceptional talents. The rest of the characters and the setting find their place, and the film gives off an amiable charm. Later it turns sad, but not oppressively so. Like Nashville and other Robert Altman oeuvre, the film portrays little dramas that might amount only to a recognition of the variance of life and the mercurial nature of fate, but the later director (Altman) developed these themes more clearly and effectively. Overall, once the film is on its way, it can be charming, but it's too long a wait.

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

If I'm not mistaken, this is like the grandaddy of all star-studded ensemble films that features intersecting characters and storylines. The story takes place in the present day (early 1930s) at the Grand Hotel in Berlin. It's a lavish place, and, despite someone saying that is a place where "nothing ever happens" that proves to be far from the truth. when the story begins ,some of the people caught up in events going on include a destitue Baron (John Barrymore) who spends his time gambling and occasionally thieving jewels, a meek accountant (Lionel Barrymore) who, after learning he is dying decides to spend his remaining days living a life of luxury, his former employer (Wallace Beery) an industrialist at the hotel trying to close an important deal, a stenographer (Joan Crawford) who aspires ot be an actress, and a Russian Ballerina (Greta Garbo) on the verge of a complete meltdown. Here's some notable bits of info about the movie: it is so far the only film to win the Oscar for Best Picture that wasn't nominated for any other award. Also, Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford (the two biggest stars at the time)never share any screen time together as it was believed having them do so would disasterously reult in each one trying to outshine the other. If you wanna see what a classic Old Hollywood picture (and Old Hollywood royalty) look like, then give this a watch. It's a pretty good little yarn and a fine example of Class A filmmaking from that era.

Chris Weber
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

"Grand Hotel" is an iconic relic. It's an important film because it was the first of it's kind in terms of multiple, interconnected, existential story lines and the first film to gather together a large, star studded ensemble. Since the structure of the film was completely new, the various threads can be derivative and seem more like a series of vignettes than a cohesive whole. But the cast is enchanting and the blending of genres is risky and invigorating. "Grand Hotel" is by no means a perfect film and it's entertainment value can be all over the place, but it's still an intriguing and important motion picture to this day.

Steven Carrier
Steven Carrier

Super Reviewer

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