Movie Review: Grand Hotel

Autumn has, no doubt about it, arrived for good. We’ve gotten lucky and had a few weeks of lovely weather. But now the rain is here and there’s nothing I’d rather do than spend the entirety of the day indoors. But this autumn has gotten me thinking about last autumn, and a movie I saw that perfectly captured my thoughts and emotions from that time. The movie? Grand Hotel, made in 1932. The film chronicles the events that occur when an assortment of guests (and what guests! – more on this later) check in to Berlin’s Grand Hotel. Sound amusing? Let me assure you – it’s not. But that certainly doesn’t take away from the movie, which (many years ago) won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Now, about those guests – this movie was one of the first to have what is called a “star-studded” cast of characters:

­Greta Garbo as a depressed ballerina who only “wants to be alone”
­John Barrymore as a thieving baron who accidentally falls in love
Joan Crawford as a young stenographer who is less naïve than she appears
Wallace Beery as a ruthless businessman who is terrified of bankruptcy
­Lionel Barrymore as a man who has very little time to live and is determined to enjoy every minute of it
­Lewis Stone as a bitter, cynical doctor who watches the drama unfold

The film starts light-heartedly, with Strauss waltzes playing blithely over the opening scenes, but the story soon takes a dark turn.

This remarkable drama gives real meaning to the saying “They don’t make movies like they used to.” Indeed they don’t. But at least this one is still around.

-Evan, Teen Advisory Group
Northeast Branch

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