21 September 2005 | jotix100
She wanted to be alone
Vicky Baum's novel "Menschen I'm Hotel" serves as the basis for this 1932 film that was a vehicle for Greta Garbo. "Grand Hotel", as directed by Edmund Golding, was a magnificent film that had a lot of first class stars of the era in prominent roles. In fact, this seems to be one of the first films to have relied in the prominent "names" it gathered to portray the different characters in the movie.
By today's standards, the film is dated, but for a discriminating film fan, "Grand Hotel" is a classic because of the star turns one witnesses. Also, today's fans have to make concessions for the style of acting that was prevalent at the time. The movies have begun "talking" not long before this film was made and the stars of those silents were still doing their acting in front of the camera as though no one was going to hear them talk. In fact, most of the complaints in comments submitted to this forum would have been different if this was 1932 and the film had just come out.
The best advice for anyone new to this film is to sit back, relax, and enjoy the trials and tribulations of the people seen at Berlin's Grand Hotel.
The biggest surprise of the film is the shortness of Greta Garbo presence in the film, in which for some unknown reason, she looms large above the rest of the players. As the Russian ballerina Grusinskaya, Ms. Garbo played one of the best characters of her career. Her way of acting is still imbued with what was expected of her.
John Barrymore as the Baron Von Geigern, the impoverished nobleman, is key to the story. The moment he meets the great Grusinskaya, he is lost forever. Lionel Barrymore is excellent as the poor Otto Kringelein, who thinks he is going to die real soon. Joan Crawford, is the stenographer Flaemmchen who seems to arise passion among all the men she meets. Ms. Crawford does excellent work in a role she discarded later on in favor of more dramatic appearances.
What makes "Grand Hotel" the timeless classic it became is the magnificent camera work by William H. Daniels, a man who knew how to get the best out of Greta Garbo in their many films together. Also the music which is from Franz Lehar's "The Merry Widow" serves as a nice distraction in the background.
The most famous phrase in the film "I want to be alone", seems prophetic in retrospect as the divine Garbo had about eight more years in the movies.