Review: ‘Grand Hotel’

Better than just a good transcription of the Vicki Baum stage play. Story is many angled in characters and incidents. There is the romantic grip of the actress-nobleman lovers; there is the triumph of the underdog in the figure of Kringelein, the humble bookkeeper doomed to approaching death and determined to spend his remaining days in a splurge of luxury in the Grand Hotel; and there is the everlasting Cinderella element in the not-so-good stenographer who at last finds a friend and protector in the dying Kringelein.

Better than just a good transcription of the Vicki Baum stage play. Story is many angled in characters and incidents. There is the romantic grip of the actress-nobleman lovers; there is the triumph of the underdog in the figure of Kringelein, the humble bookkeeper doomed to approaching death and determined to spend his remaining days in a splurge of luxury in the Grand Hotel; and there is the everlasting Cinderella element in the not-so-good stenographer who at last finds a friend and protector in the dying Kringelein.

First honors again go to Lionel Barrymore for an inspired performance as the soon-to-die bookkeeper. Greta Garbo gives the role of the dancer something of artificiality, risking a trace of acting swagger, sometimes stagey. Her clothes are ravishing in the well-known Garbo style.

John Barrymore is back where he belongs as the down-at-heel but glamorous baron, going about debonairly in a career of crime but with a heart of gold that will not stoop to small meanness.

There remains the stenographer Miss Flaemmchen, not the most fortunate casting for Joan Crawford, who is rather too capable a type to successfully play an unhappy plaything of fate.

Wallace Beery is at home in the part of the German industrialist, a grandiose but pathetic figure in his struggles with business rivals.

1931/32: Best Picture

Grand Hotel

Production

M-G-M. Director Edmund Goulding; Producer [uncredited]; Screenplay William A. Drake; Camera William Daniels; Editor Blanche Sewell; Music [uncredited]; Art Director Cedric Gibbons

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1932. Running time: 105 MIN.

With

Greta Garbo John Barrymore Joan Crawford Wallace Beery Lionel Barrymore Jean Hersholt
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