Grand Hotel


1h 45m 1932
Grand Hotel

Brief Synopsis

Guests at a posh Berlin hotel struggle through scandal and heartache.

Photos & Videos

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Sep 11, 1932
Premiere Information
New York opening: 12 Apr 1932
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Distributing Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Menschen im Hotel by Vicki Baum (Berlin, 1929) and her play of the same name (Berlin, Feb 1930) as adapted in English under the title Grand Hotel by William A. Drake (New York, 13 Nov 1930).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 45m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
12 reels

Synopsis

Dr. Otternschlag, a resident at the Grand Hotel, Berlin's most expensive hotel, observes that life at the hotel is "always the same. People come--people go, nothing ever happens." Guests check in, share parts of their lives with one another and then leave. One such guest is Grusinskaya, a beautiful Russian ballet dancer who knows that her popularity is waning and complains that everything in her life has become "threadbare." Grusinskaya's stay at the hotel becomes greatly affected by her acquaintance with Baron Felix Benvenuto Frihern Von Gaigern, a charming hotel thief who plans to steal her pearls. Another guest, ailing bookkeeper Otto Kringelein, has been told that he has only a short time to live and is intent on spending his last days in the grandest style possible. Kringelein's intentions, however, are thwarted by the presence of his inimical boss, textile magnate General Director Preysing, who is in Berlin to make an important business deal. When the baron meets Flaemmchen, Preysing's stenographer, they flirt and make make plans to attend the hotel dance together. The baron then goes to his room, where he waits for Grusinskaya to depart for the theater. The baron enters Grusinskaya's room through her balcony and quickly finds the pearls, but is forced to hide when he hears someone at the door. Grusinskaya, who has returned from the theater after refusing to perform, calls Pimenov, the ballet master, and learns that her presence was missed by no one. Left alone, the depressed Grusinskaya is about to kill herself when the baron emerges and tells her that he is a great admirer of her talent and professes his love for her. After they make plans to leave for Vienna and start their lives over, they spend the night making love. The following day, Preysing negotiates a dishonest business deal and goes to the hotel's Yellow Room for a drink. There, he tries to steal Flaemmchen away from her conversation with the lonely Kringelein, which results in a bitter argument between Kringelein and Preysing. Later, when Flaemmchen realizes that she has been spurned by the baron, she accepts Preysing's offer to travel with him. The baron, meanwhile, tries to quit the hotel robbery racket, but is forced to continue stealing in order to pay his debt. Kringelein offers the baron money, but he refuses it and instead organizes a card game with Kringelein and some other men in the hope that he can win enough money to settle his debt. The baron soon loses all of his money, while the drunken Kringelein wins easily. When Kringelein collapses from over-excitement, the baron steals his wallet, but then returns it when he sees how upset it has made the bookkeeper. Later that night, while Grusinskaya places a call to the baron in his room, Preysing catches him trying to steal his wallet and kills him with a telephone receiver. Horrified at the sight of the murdered baron, Flaemmchen runs to Kringelein for help, and he, despite Preysing's pleadings, calls the police and turns Preysing in. The baron's body is removed the next morning and Preysing is arrested. After Flaemmchen accepts Kringelein's invitation to travel and live with him, they depart for Paris, certain that they will find another Grand Hotel there. Meanwhile, Grusinskaya's maid shields the departing dancer from the news of the baron's death and assures her that he will meet her at the train station. Grusinskaya, ignorant of the truth and certain of her happy future with the baron, is whisked through the lobby of the hotel to her car.

Photo Collections

Grand Hotel - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are a few photos taken during production of MGM's all-star film, Grand Hotel (1932).
Grand Hotel - Program Book
Here is the Program Book sold at Roadshow engagements for the all-star 1932 MGM release Grand Hotel.

Videos

Movie Clip

Grand Hotel (1932) - I Have A Rather Nice Figure Textile magnate Preysing (Wallace Beery) is pleased that he's at last got sexy stenographer Flaemmchen (Joan Crawford) to himself but alarmed that his deal seems to be crashing, John Barrymore on the balcony advancing another plot, in MGM's all-star Grand Hotel, 1932.
Grand Hotel (1932) - I Have A Complaint Epic take by director Edmund Goulding, at the front desk, mostly Kringelein (Lionel Barrymore) griping, meeting the Baron (brother John Barrymore), Dr. Otternschlag (Lewis Stone) and concierge (Charles Trowbridge), then Joan Crawford's entrance, in MGM's all-star Grand Hotel, 1932.
Grand Hotel (1932) - Do I Look Like A Baron? Transition through the famous lobby shot, then the chiseling Baron (John Barrymore) at work on the new stenographer Flaemmchen (Joan Crawford), interrupted by pensioner Kringelein (Lionel Barrymore), in MGM's Grand Hotel, 1932.
Grand Hotel (1932) - All The Best People Opening scene introducing many from the all-but unprecedented line-up of MGM stars, Jean Hersholt, Lionel Barrymore, Wallace Beery, John Barrymore, at the fictional hotel in Berlin, Garbo, Crawford and others yet to come, in Irving Thalberg's hit all-star experiment Grand Hotel, 1932.
Grand Hotel (1932) - I Want To Be Alone... The dancer Grusinskaya (Greta Garbo, uttering the line she would never escape) wants to be alone, not realizing that the thieving Baron (John Barrymore) is with her all along, in this famous scene from director Edmund Goulding's Grand Hotel, 1932.

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Sep 11, 1932
Premiere Information
New York opening: 12 Apr 1932
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Distributing Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Menschen im Hotel by Vicki Baum (Berlin, 1929) and her play of the same name (Berlin, Feb 1930) as adapted in English under the title Grand Hotel by William A. Drake (New York, 13 Nov 1930).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 45m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
12 reels

Award Wins

Best Picture

1932

Articles

The Essentials - Grand Hotel


SYNOPSIS

Five different characters staying at the luxury hotel over the course of two nights intersect in unexpected ways. Linked together by varying forms of desperation, the characters include Grusinskaya, a fading suicidal ballerina; the charming and destitute Baron Von Gaigern who plans to rob Grusinskaya of some valuable pearls; Mr. Preysing, the ruthless industrialist whose entire future rides on a business merger that may not go through; Kringelein, a meek, terminally ill accountant who intends to blow his life savings living his last days in style; and Flaemmchen, an ambitious stenographer willing to do more than just take dictation to get ahead. All of their lives will change during their brief stay, some for the better, some for worse.

Director: Edmund Goulding
Writer: William A. Drake (adapted from the novel Menschen im Hotel by Vicki Baum)
Producer: Paul Bern
Cinematography: William Daniels
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons
Editing: Blanche Sewell
Costumes: Adrian
Cast: Greta Garbo (Grusinskaya), John Barrymore (Baron Von Gaigern), Joan Crawford (Flaemmchen), Wallace Beery (Preysing), Lionel Barrymore (Otto Kringelein), Lewis Stone (Doctor Otternschlag), Jean Hersholt (Senf, the porter).
BW-115m.

Why GRAND HOTEL is Essential

The multiple intersecting storylines featuring different characters in Grand Hotel was a revelation in how to tell a cinematic story and had a huge influence on how films were made after its release in 1932.

Production Head Irving Thalberg's idea to use all of MGM's greatest star power in the same film was a revolutionary idea. With the film's publicity boasting "the greatest cast ever assembled," Grand Hotel delivered all of the studio's top talent at the same time. It was a calculated gamble that paid off and soon became a common format for big budget studio pictures. It was Hollywood's first all-star film. Grand Hotel was a risk that turned into a huge hit for MGM. Its success gave a boost to the careers of all involved, and helped MGM survive an economic depression.

Grand Hotel was influential in contributing to the ongoing myth of the Great Garbo, remembered forever as talented and beautiful as well as complex, elusive, and aloof. Her Grand Hotel character Grusinskaya's oft repeated "I want to be alone" line became synonymous with the actress herself and contributed to her mysterious image that followed her throughout her life.

This is the only film in which Greta Garbo and John Barrymore ever starred together. As two of the greatest actors and stars ever to grace the silver screen, seeing them play off of each other is a rare and delightful treat.

Joan Crawford's role as the ambitious stenographer Flaemmchen in Grand Hotel was responsible for giving her career a big boost as she moved towards A-list stardom as a leading lady. Having successfully transitioned to sound film, this part gave her the chance to hold her own against some of Hollywood's heaviest hitters, including Garbo, one of her idols.

by Andrea Passafiume
The Essentials - Grand Hotel

The Essentials - Grand Hotel

SYNOPSIS Five different characters staying at the luxury hotel over the course of two nights intersect in unexpected ways. Linked together by varying forms of desperation, the characters include Grusinskaya, a fading suicidal ballerina; the charming and destitute Baron Von Gaigern who plans to rob Grusinskaya of some valuable pearls; Mr. Preysing, the ruthless industrialist whose entire future rides on a business merger that may not go through; Kringelein, a meek, terminally ill accountant who intends to blow his life savings living his last days in style; and Flaemmchen, an ambitious stenographer willing to do more than just take dictation to get ahead. All of their lives will change during their brief stay, some for the better, some for worse. Director: Edmund Goulding Writer: William A. Drake (adapted from the novel Menschen im Hotel by Vicki Baum) Producer: Paul Bern Cinematography: William Daniels Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons Editing: Blanche Sewell Costumes: Adrian Cast: Greta Garbo (Grusinskaya), John Barrymore (Baron Von Gaigern), Joan Crawford (Flaemmchen), Wallace Beery (Preysing), Lionel Barrymore (Otto Kringelein), Lewis Stone (Doctor Otternschlag), Jean Hersholt (Senf, the porter). BW-115m. Why GRAND HOTEL is Essential The multiple intersecting storylines featuring different characters in Grand Hotel was a revelation in how to tell a cinematic story and had a huge influence on how films were made after its release in 1932. Production Head Irving Thalberg's idea to use all of MGM's greatest star power in the same film was a revolutionary idea. With the film's publicity boasting "the greatest cast ever assembled," Grand Hotel delivered all of the studio's top talent at the same time. It was a calculated gamble that paid off and soon became a common format for big budget studio pictures. It was Hollywood's first all-star film. Grand Hotel was a risk that turned into a huge hit for MGM. Its success gave a boost to the careers of all involved, and helped MGM survive an economic depression. Grand Hotel was influential in contributing to the ongoing myth of the Great Garbo, remembered forever as talented and beautiful as well as complex, elusive, and aloof. Her Grand Hotel character Grusinskaya's oft repeated "I want to be alone" line became synonymous with the actress herself and contributed to her mysterious image that followed her throughout her life. This is the only film in which Greta Garbo and John Barrymore ever starred together. As two of the greatest actors and stars ever to grace the silver screen, seeing them play off of each other is a rare and delightful treat. Joan Crawford's role as the ambitious stenographer Flaemmchen in Grand Hotel was responsible for giving her career a big boost as she moved towards A-list stardom as a leading lady. Having successfully transitioned to sound film, this part gave her the chance to hold her own against some of Hollywood's heaviest hitters, including Garbo, one of her idols. by Andrea Passafiume

The Big Idea - Grand Hotel


The idea for the stellar cinematic classic Grand Hotel began when author Vicki Baum published her international bestselling novel Menschen im Hotel in 1929. Reportedly based on her experiences working in two well-known Berlin hotels, the absorbing story explored a handful of disparate characters whose paths crossed while staying at a luxury hotel at the same time.

One person who always believed that the book had the potential to be turned into a terrific movie was famed MGM Production Head Irving Thalberg. In fact, turning Menshen im Hotel (which loosely translates into People at the Hotel) became a pet project for Thalberg, and he was determined to do it right.

Thalberg purchased the rights to the book in 1930 and worked out a deal in which MGM would help finance a Broadway stage version that also gave the most powerful studio in Hollywood the rights to eventually make a film of it. Presenting the newly translated play Grand Hotel to New York theater audiences was a way to test out the response to it before moving forward with what was sure to be a lavish big budget film production.

When the play Grand Hotel opened on Broadway in November 1930 it was an immediate hit and ran for over a year; audiences responded to the fresh approach to storytelling. Irving Thalberg was always able to see the cinematic possibilities of such a story, and it was an idea that excited him from the get-go. "The swift-moving, episodic character of [this] play will probably serve as a pattern for many films," Thalberg said in an interview. "I don't mean that the exact theme of Grand Hotel will be copied, though this may happen, but that the form and mood will be followed. For instance, we may have such settings as a train, where all the action happens in a journey from one city to another; or action that takes place during the time a boat sails from one harbor and culminates with the end of a trip. The general idea will be that of a drama induced by the chance meeting of a group of conflicting and interesting personalities."

With MGM's film version of Grand Hotel, it wouldn't just be the storytelling that would be revolutionary, but also the casting. Irving Thalberg had the inspired idea to use not just one but nearly all of MGM's biggest movie stars in the film and give them all a chance to shine. He wanted Grand Hotel to be the first all-star cast ever assembled at the same time in a single sophisticated big-budget drama. It was a fresh and original idea, but also a risky one to sink every powerful resource into a single film. The hope was that if the film succeeded, it would help usher in a new form of storytelling for films, give everyone's career a boost, and help keep the studio's bottom line healthy in the midst of a crippling depression that was negatively impacting the box office.

After a screenplay was adapted from Vicki Baum's story by William A. Drake, Thalberg's top order of business was to work with the film's producer Paul Bern to select the perfect ensemble cast. The legendary Greta Garbo was tapped to play the fading Russian ballerina Grusinskaya. Playing the part of an emotionally fragile dancer was something of a departure from her usual strong characters, but she was willing to approach it with gusto and make it her own. Garbo was at the top of her career at that point and was able to wield great power that came with her legendary mystique as MGM's most prized female asset of the time.

One thing that Garbo wanted--and Garbo usually got what she wanted--was for her old lover and dear friend John Gilbert to play opposite her as the Baron von Gaigern. Gilbert, who had once been a top MGM star in silent pictures, was having trouble transitioning to sound, and several mediocre film projects had left his career on a path of sharp decline. Some said that MGM studio chief Louis B. Mayer, who reportedly clashed frequently with Gilbert, was personally trying to sabotage his career.

According to MGM story editor Samuel Marx, the decision on whom to cast as the Baron was not easy. "An immense amount of soul-searching went on in meetings between Thalberg and [Paul] Bern over the actor who was to portray the dissolute gambler, Baron von Gaigern," he said according to Mark A. Vieira's 2005 book Greta Garbo: A Cinematic Legacy. "John Gilbert, struggling with a career that had plummeted with the coming of talkies, told his friends that he was born for it, that many nights of drinking and carousing had been done in the company of Thalberg and Bern. They knew that he could act the part without rehearsal."

While Thalberg was open to the idea of casting Gilbert, he soon began having second thoughts according to Marx due in part to Gilbert's unstable behavior and wild mood swings. Ultimately the part was given to another legendary figure at MGM: John Barrymore, nicknamed "The Great Profile." Gilbert was reportedly crushed by this revelation and Garbo was very disappointed. However, no one could deny that the idea of pairing Garbo and Barrymore together for the very first time was an intriguing one. What would happen on screen when these two gigantic talents worked together? The thought was too good to pass up.

There was serious talk of legendary silent comedian Buster Keaton playing the pivotal role of the dying Kringelein and Clark Gable, an up-and-comer at the time, playing the heartless industrialist Preysing. However, in the end the role of Kringelein went to John Barrymore's accomplished brother Lionel, and that of Preysing went to Wallace Beery. Known primarily for playing loveable benign brutes, Beery was reportedly resistant in the beginning to playing such an unsympathetic character as Preysing. "He doesn't murder women," he reportedly said, "but he's lower than anybody I've ever played." Lewis Stone and Jean Hersholt were also added to play the battle-scarred Dr. Otternschlag and Senf, respectively, the porter who is awaiting the birth of his first child.

Grand Hotel's only other major female role besides Garbo's was MGM's own rising star Joan Crawford in the part of the ambitious stenographer Flaemmchen. Crawford was thrilled at the prospect of working on such a prestigious project with such a distinguished cast. However, she was especially excited to be working in a film with Greta Garbo, one of her few true acting idols. Crawford admired Garbo greatly, and even though their two characters would not have any scenes together, she was happy at the idea of any project that would put them in the same film. With dreams of one day having a career as distinguished as Garbo's, Crawford possessed the poise, confidence and talent that any actress going up against Garbo on the big screen would need, and Flaemmchen would be the most important part in her career up to that point.

With an incredible cast secured for Grand Hotel, Thalberg assigned Edmund Goulding to direct. Not only was Goulding a talented and respected director, but he also had a reputation for being diplomatic and being able to handle egos, conflicts and strong personalities with great diplomacy. With practically all of MGM's top talent together on one soundstage, his work would be cut out for him.

by Andrea Passafiume

The Big Idea - Grand Hotel

The idea for the stellar cinematic classic Grand Hotel began when author Vicki Baum published her international bestselling novel Menschen im Hotel in 1929. Reportedly based on her experiences working in two well-known Berlin hotels, the absorbing story explored a handful of disparate characters whose paths crossed while staying at a luxury hotel at the same time. One person who always believed that the book had the potential to be turned into a terrific movie was famed MGM Production Head Irving Thalberg. In fact, turning Menshen im Hotel (which loosely translates into People at the Hotel) became a pet project for Thalberg, and he was determined to do it right. Thalberg purchased the rights to the book in 1930 and worked out a deal in which MGM would help finance a Broadway stage version that also gave the most powerful studio in Hollywood the rights to eventually make a film of it. Presenting the newly translated play Grand Hotel to New York theater audiences was a way to test out the response to it before moving forward with what was sure to be a lavish big budget film production. When the play Grand Hotel opened on Broadway in November 1930 it was an immediate hit and ran for over a year; audiences responded to the fresh approach to storytelling. Irving Thalberg was always able to see the cinematic possibilities of such a story, and it was an idea that excited him from the get-go. "The swift-moving, episodic character of [this] play will probably serve as a pattern for many films," Thalberg said in an interview. "I don't mean that the exact theme of Grand Hotel will be copied, though this may happen, but that the form and mood will be followed. For instance, we may have such settings as a train, where all the action happens in a journey from one city to another; or action that takes place during the time a boat sails from one harbor and culminates with the end of a trip. The general idea will be that of a drama induced by the chance meeting of a group of conflicting and interesting personalities." With MGM's film version of Grand Hotel, it wouldn't just be the storytelling that would be revolutionary, but also the casting. Irving Thalberg had the inspired idea to use not just one but nearly all of MGM's biggest movie stars in the film and give them all a chance to shine. He wanted Grand Hotel to be the first all-star cast ever assembled at the same time in a single sophisticated big-budget drama. It was a fresh and original idea, but also a risky one to sink every powerful resource into a single film. The hope was that if the film succeeded, it would help usher in a new form of storytelling for films, give everyone's career a boost, and help keep the studio's bottom line healthy in the midst of a crippling depression that was negatively impacting the box office. After a screenplay was adapted from Vicki Baum's story by William A. Drake, Thalberg's top order of business was to work with the film's producer Paul Bern to select the perfect ensemble cast. The legendary Greta Garbo was tapped to play the fading Russian ballerina Grusinskaya. Playing the part of an emotionally fragile dancer was something of a departure from her usual strong characters, but she was willing to approach it with gusto and make it her own. Garbo was at the top of her career at that point and was able to wield great power that came with her legendary mystique as MGM's most prized female asset of the time. One thing that Garbo wanted--and Garbo usually got what she wanted--was for her old lover and dear friend John Gilbert to play opposite her as the Baron von Gaigern. Gilbert, who had once been a top MGM star in silent pictures, was having trouble transitioning to sound, and several mediocre film projects had left his career on a path of sharp decline. Some said that MGM studio chief Louis B. Mayer, who reportedly clashed frequently with Gilbert, was personally trying to sabotage his career. According to MGM story editor Samuel Marx, the decision on whom to cast as the Baron was not easy. "An immense amount of soul-searching went on in meetings between Thalberg and [Paul] Bern over the actor who was to portray the dissolute gambler, Baron von Gaigern," he said according to Mark A. Vieira's 2005 book Greta Garbo: A Cinematic Legacy. "John Gilbert, struggling with a career that had plummeted with the coming of talkies, told his friends that he was born for it, that many nights of drinking and carousing had been done in the company of Thalberg and Bern. They knew that he could act the part without rehearsal." While Thalberg was open to the idea of casting Gilbert, he soon began having second thoughts according to Marx due in part to Gilbert's unstable behavior and wild mood swings. Ultimately the part was given to another legendary figure at MGM: John Barrymore, nicknamed "The Great Profile." Gilbert was reportedly crushed by this revelation and Garbo was very disappointed. However, no one could deny that the idea of pairing Garbo and Barrymore together for the very first time was an intriguing one. What would happen on screen when these two gigantic talents worked together? The thought was too good to pass up. There was serious talk of legendary silent comedian Buster Keaton playing the pivotal role of the dying Kringelein and Clark Gable, an up-and-comer at the time, playing the heartless industrialist Preysing. However, in the end the role of Kringelein went to John Barrymore's accomplished brother Lionel, and that of Preysing went to Wallace Beery. Known primarily for playing loveable benign brutes, Beery was reportedly resistant in the beginning to playing such an unsympathetic character as Preysing. "He doesn't murder women," he reportedly said, "but he's lower than anybody I've ever played." Lewis Stone and Jean Hersholt were also added to play the battle-scarred Dr. Otternschlag and Senf, respectively, the porter who is awaiting the birth of his first child. Grand Hotel's only other major female role besides Garbo's was MGM's own rising star Joan Crawford in the part of the ambitious stenographer Flaemmchen. Crawford was thrilled at the prospect of working on such a prestigious project with such a distinguished cast. However, she was especially excited to be working in a film with Greta Garbo, one of her few true acting idols. Crawford admired Garbo greatly, and even though their two characters would not have any scenes together, she was happy at the idea of any project that would put them in the same film. With dreams of one day having a career as distinguished as Garbo's, Crawford possessed the poise, confidence and talent that any actress going up against Garbo on the big screen would need, and Flaemmchen would be the most important part in her career up to that point. With an incredible cast secured for Grand Hotel, Thalberg assigned Edmund Goulding to direct. Not only was Goulding a talented and respected director, but he also had a reputation for being diplomatic and being able to handle egos, conflicts and strong personalities with great diplomacy. With practically all of MGM's top talent together on one soundstage, his work would be cut out for him. by Andrea Passafiume

Behind the Camera - Grand Hotel


Principal photography on Grand Hotel commenced in December 1931 soon after the New York stage play closed. There was a great deal of publicity surrounding the production with excitement building over what promised to be a star-studded box office event.

Much ado was made in the press about the numerous big stars in the cast and how there was sure to be a tumultuous clash of egos. Some journalists referred to this as the "Battle of the Stars," as if they were trying to deliberately egg on the perceived animosity to create a more exciting story.

The more peaceful reality was that the actors were all extremely professional and did their utmost to accommodate and respect each other and allow everyone a chance to shine. It also didn't hurt that director Edmund Goulding lived up to his reputation as a diplomatic handler of big personalities.

MGM studio brass wondered how their top female star Greta Garbo would get along with John Barrymore in their many scenes together. They were both big personalities, and she had her well-known peculiar quirks. As luck would have it, there was no need to worry as the two hit it off from the beginning. On the very first day of filming together, Garbo reportedly greeted Barrymore warmly by saying, "This is a great day for me. How I have looked forward to working with John Barrymore!" Barrymore supposedly was won over immediately. "My wife and I think you are the loveliest woman in the world," he replied.

By all accounts Garbo and Barrymore worked extremely well together and were quite generous to each other as actors. Garbo typically didn't socialize much when she was working and kept to herself, but she made an exception in Barrymore's case as she regularly enjoyed talking with him during their down time. Years later Barrymore described Garbo as "a fine lady and a fine actress." Garbo described him as "one of the very few who had the divine madness without which a great artist cannot work or live."

Greta Garbo was true to her sometimes aloof and temperamental reputation in other ways, however. Most notably, she detested having any outsiders watching her at work while she was filming and had no qualms about having people removed from the set, no matter who they were. "...it would have been the same if it had been Jesus Christ," said co-star Lionel Barrymore according to Mark A. Vieira's 2005 biography Greta Garbo: A Cinematic Legacy. "She didn't do it to be snotty. She was frightened. She was like a cat that went under the bed when a stranger came into the room." Director Edmund Goulding agreed. "In the studios she is nervous," he said according to the 1995 Barry Paris book Garbo. "Rather like a racehorse at the post--actually trembling, hating onlookers. At the first click of the camera, she starts literally pouring forth Garbo into the lens."

26-year-old Joan Crawford tackled her own meaty role of Flaemmchen with her characteristic gusto and confidently held her own with the rest of the more established cast. Crawford was always in awe of the mighty Garbo's presence and eager to talk to her idol, but since the film never called for their characters to be in the same room at the same time, there was little chance of the two spending much time together. Crawford was also too intimidated to ever directly approach Garbo, who coolly kept her distance. One day, however, Crawford was surprised when Garbo spoke to her first. It was an experience that Crawford called "thrilling" when Garbo stopped her on the stairs at MGM and said, "We're in the same picture. How sad I am that we haven't one scene together." It was a story that Crawford proudly told many times throughout her career, the thrill of that moment always evident. In later years Crawford described Grand Hotel as "a grand film, a grand experience in my life. I'm so proud. I was thrilled when I heard I was going to be doing it. I only wanted to be worthy."

When shooting was completed in mid-February of 1932, MGM promoted the film heavily, its trailer boasting "the greatest cast ever assembled."

by Andrea Passafiume

Behind the Camera - Grand Hotel

Principal photography on Grand Hotel commenced in December 1931 soon after the New York stage play closed. There was a great deal of publicity surrounding the production with excitement building over what promised to be a star-studded box office event. Much ado was made in the press about the numerous big stars in the cast and how there was sure to be a tumultuous clash of egos. Some journalists referred to this as the "Battle of the Stars," as if they were trying to deliberately egg on the perceived animosity to create a more exciting story. The more peaceful reality was that the actors were all extremely professional and did their utmost to accommodate and respect each other and allow everyone a chance to shine. It also didn't hurt that director Edmund Goulding lived up to his reputation as a diplomatic handler of big personalities. MGM studio brass wondered how their top female star Greta Garbo would get along with John Barrymore in their many scenes together. They were both big personalities, and she had her well-known peculiar quirks. As luck would have it, there was no need to worry as the two hit it off from the beginning. On the very first day of filming together, Garbo reportedly greeted Barrymore warmly by saying, "This is a great day for me. How I have looked forward to working with John Barrymore!" Barrymore supposedly was won over immediately. "My wife and I think you are the loveliest woman in the world," he replied. By all accounts Garbo and Barrymore worked extremely well together and were quite generous to each other as actors. Garbo typically didn't socialize much when she was working and kept to herself, but she made an exception in Barrymore's case as she regularly enjoyed talking with him during their down time. Years later Barrymore described Garbo as "a fine lady and a fine actress." Garbo described him as "one of the very few who had the divine madness without which a great artist cannot work or live." Greta Garbo was true to her sometimes aloof and temperamental reputation in other ways, however. Most notably, she detested having any outsiders watching her at work while she was filming and had no qualms about having people removed from the set, no matter who they were. "...it would have been the same if it had been Jesus Christ," said co-star Lionel Barrymore according to Mark A. Vieira's 2005 biography Greta Garbo: A Cinematic Legacy. "She didn't do it to be snotty. She was frightened. She was like a cat that went under the bed when a stranger came into the room." Director Edmund Goulding agreed. "In the studios she is nervous," he said according to the 1995 Barry Paris book Garbo. "Rather like a racehorse at the post--actually trembling, hating onlookers. At the first click of the camera, she starts literally pouring forth Garbo into the lens." 26-year-old Joan Crawford tackled her own meaty role of Flaemmchen with her characteristic gusto and confidently held her own with the rest of the more established cast. Crawford was always in awe of the mighty Garbo's presence and eager to talk to her idol, but since the film never called for their characters to be in the same room at the same time, there was little chance of the two spending much time together. Crawford was also too intimidated to ever directly approach Garbo, who coolly kept her distance. One day, however, Crawford was surprised when Garbo spoke to her first. It was an experience that Crawford called "thrilling" when Garbo stopped her on the stairs at MGM and said, "We're in the same picture. How sad I am that we haven't one scene together." It was a story that Crawford proudly told many times throughout her career, the thrill of that moment always evident. In later years Crawford described Grand Hotel as "a grand film, a grand experience in my life. I'm so proud. I was thrilled when I heard I was going to be doing it. I only wanted to be worthy." When shooting was completed in mid-February of 1932, MGM promoted the film heavily, its trailer boasting "the greatest cast ever assembled." by Andrea Passafiume

Grand Hotel


Greta Garbo's status as a screen legend became official when MGM billed her solely by her last name in Grand Hotel, the Oscar-winning Best Picture of 1932. It was a distinction previously earned by such stage greats as Sarah Bernhardt and Eleonora Duse. Beyond her impressive billing, the film also cemented her image as the most reclusive star of all time, even giving her the line that would forever be associated with her, "I want to be alone."

Garbo's billing was one of the tools MGM used to induce her to take part in the screen's first all-star epic. At 27, she thought she was already too old to convincingly play a prima ballerina. Nor was she pleased when studio chief Louis B. Mayer decided not to cast her former co-star and one-time fiancee, John Gilbert, as the jewel thief who breaks into Garbo's hotel suite to rob her and ends up falling in love. Instead, the role went to John Barrymore, who was so pleased to be working with the Swedish star and his brother Lionel that he gladly signed a three-picture contract with MGM.

Production chief Irving Thalberg had planned Grand Hotel as Hollywood's first all-star feature from the moment he read Vicki Baum's novel about the intertwining fates of five desperate people staying at a posh Berlin hotel. Plans were already underway for a Broadway version, so Thalberg got the studio to invest $15,000 in the show in return for film rights. When it ran for over a year on Broadway, Grand Hotel posted a profit before the cameras even started rolling.

Garbo wasn't the only member of the all-star cast to express reservations about the film. Cast as a romantic secretary tempted to sleep her way to the top, Joan Crawford was afraid she would be lost among the film's high-powered stars and also worried that her character's best scenes would be cut by the censors. Thalberg assured her that the scenes would be filmed in good taste (they were later cut in several states) then ordered her to take the role.

Wallace Beery objected too, noting that the role of a villainous businessman was too far from the jovial roughnecks he'd played in films like The Champ (1931) and Min and Bill (1930): "He doesn't murder women, but he's lower than anybody I've ever played!" Thalberg finally won him over by agreeing to let him use a German accent to distance the character from the roles he normally played.

Most Hollywood insiders predicted the high-powered cast would spend most of their time upstaging each other. That was expected when John and Lionel Barrymore got together. Their upstaging contest in Arsene Lupin (1932), another film about a glamorous jewel thief, had inspired Thalberg to cast them together in Grand Hotel. But Crawford was having none of it. After watching them pull their tricks in a few scenes, she laid down the law: "All right, boys, but don't forget that the American public would rather have one look at my back than watch both of your faces for an hour." Beery tried to steal scenes, too, mainly by ad-libbing in an effort to throw Crawford off. When she complained to director Edmund Goulding, a painstaking craftsman with a strong reputation as a woman's director, he ordered Beery to play the role as written.

There was no question of upstaging in Garbo's scenes with John Barrymore. They were so thrilled to be working together that they went out of their way to help each other. Knowing that Barrymore thought the left side of his face was more attractive and expressive than the right, she spent her lunch break rearranging the furniture in her character's hotel suite to favor his "great profile." When he sensed her insecurity in their love scenes, he whispered to her repeatedly, "You are the most enticing woman in the world." After the scene was over, she publicly announced, "You have no idea what it means to me to play opposite so perfect an artist." And even though Garbo was notorious for going home as soon as her shots were done, during Grand Hotel she stayed on the set to talk with Barrymore, doting on his stories about the theatre. The publicity-shy Swede even agreed to pose for publicity shots with him.

The all-star casting paid off when Grand Hotel opened to glorious reviews and strong box office, bringing back almost five times its cost in its first year of release. It also became the only film to win the Best Picture Oscar® without earning any other nominations. Many historians have suggested that feat as a sign of the picture's greatest strength. Thalberg and his cast had created such a seamless piece of entertainment that no one element stood out more than any other. MGM tried to make lightning strike twice with a 1945 remake, Weekend at the Waldorf, with Ginger Rogers in the Garbo role, but the film came nowhere near the magic of the original. Decades later, there were two stage musical versions: a flop called At the Grand in 1958 with musical diva Joan Deiner as the ballerina and the Broadway hit Grand Hotel: The Musical, starring Liliane Montevecchi, in 1989.

Producer: Irving G. Thalberg
Director: Edmund Goulding
Screenplay: William A. Drake
Based on the play and novel Menschen im Hotel by Vicki Baum and the American version by Drake
Cinematography: William Daniels
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons
Score: William Axt, Charles Maxwell
Cast: Greta Garbo (Grusinskaya), John Barrymore (Baron Felix von Geigern), Joan Crawford (Flaemmchen), Wallace Beery (General Director Preysing), Lionel Barrymore (Otto Kringelein), Lewis Stone (Dr. Otternschlag), Jean Hersholt (Senf), Rafaela Ottiano (Suzette).
BW-113m. Closed captioning. Descriptive Video.

by Frank Miller

Grand Hotel

Greta Garbo's status as a screen legend became official when MGM billed her solely by her last name in Grand Hotel, the Oscar-winning Best Picture of 1932. It was a distinction previously earned by such stage greats as Sarah Bernhardt and Eleonora Duse. Beyond her impressive billing, the film also cemented her image as the most reclusive star of all time, even giving her the line that would forever be associated with her, "I want to be alone." Garbo's billing was one of the tools MGM used to induce her to take part in the screen's first all-star epic. At 27, she thought she was already too old to convincingly play a prima ballerina. Nor was she pleased when studio chief Louis B. Mayer decided not to cast her former co-star and one-time fiancee, John Gilbert, as the jewel thief who breaks into Garbo's hotel suite to rob her and ends up falling in love. Instead, the role went to John Barrymore, who was so pleased to be working with the Swedish star and his brother Lionel that he gladly signed a three-picture contract with MGM. Production chief Irving Thalberg had planned Grand Hotel as Hollywood's first all-star feature from the moment he read Vicki Baum's novel about the intertwining fates of five desperate people staying at a posh Berlin hotel. Plans were already underway for a Broadway version, so Thalberg got the studio to invest $15,000 in the show in return for film rights. When it ran for over a year on Broadway, Grand Hotel posted a profit before the cameras even started rolling. Garbo wasn't the only member of the all-star cast to express reservations about the film. Cast as a romantic secretary tempted to sleep her way to the top, Joan Crawford was afraid she would be lost among the film's high-powered stars and also worried that her character's best scenes would be cut by the censors. Thalberg assured her that the scenes would be filmed in good taste (they were later cut in several states) then ordered her to take the role. Wallace Beery objected too, noting that the role of a villainous businessman was too far from the jovial roughnecks he'd played in films like The Champ (1931) and Min and Bill (1930): "He doesn't murder women, but he's lower than anybody I've ever played!" Thalberg finally won him over by agreeing to let him use a German accent to distance the character from the roles he normally played. Most Hollywood insiders predicted the high-powered cast would spend most of their time upstaging each other. That was expected when John and Lionel Barrymore got together. Their upstaging contest in Arsene Lupin (1932), another film about a glamorous jewel thief, had inspired Thalberg to cast them together in Grand Hotel. But Crawford was having none of it. After watching them pull their tricks in a few scenes, she laid down the law: "All right, boys, but don't forget that the American public would rather have one look at my back than watch both of your faces for an hour." Beery tried to steal scenes, too, mainly by ad-libbing in an effort to throw Crawford off. When she complained to director Edmund Goulding, a painstaking craftsman with a strong reputation as a woman's director, he ordered Beery to play the role as written. There was no question of upstaging in Garbo's scenes with John Barrymore. They were so thrilled to be working together that they went out of their way to help each other. Knowing that Barrymore thought the left side of his face was more attractive and expressive than the right, she spent her lunch break rearranging the furniture in her character's hotel suite to favor his "great profile." When he sensed her insecurity in their love scenes, he whispered to her repeatedly, "You are the most enticing woman in the world." After the scene was over, she publicly announced, "You have no idea what it means to me to play opposite so perfect an artist." And even though Garbo was notorious for going home as soon as her shots were done, during Grand Hotel she stayed on the set to talk with Barrymore, doting on his stories about the theatre. The publicity-shy Swede even agreed to pose for publicity shots with him. The all-star casting paid off when Grand Hotel opened to glorious reviews and strong box office, bringing back almost five times its cost in its first year of release. It also became the only film to win the Best Picture Oscar® without earning any other nominations. Many historians have suggested that feat as a sign of the picture's greatest strength. Thalberg and his cast had created such a seamless piece of entertainment that no one element stood out more than any other. MGM tried to make lightning strike twice with a 1945 remake, Weekend at the Waldorf, with Ginger Rogers in the Garbo role, but the film came nowhere near the magic of the original. Decades later, there were two stage musical versions: a flop called At the Grand in 1958 with musical diva Joan Deiner as the ballerina and the Broadway hit Grand Hotel: The Musical, starring Liliane Montevecchi, in 1989. Producer: Irving G. Thalberg Director: Edmund Goulding Screenplay: William A. Drake Based on the play and novel Menschen im Hotel by Vicki Baum and the American version by Drake Cinematography: William Daniels Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons Score: William Axt, Charles Maxwell Cast: Greta Garbo (Grusinskaya), John Barrymore (Baron Felix von Geigern), Joan Crawford (Flaemmchen), Wallace Beery (General Director Preysing), Lionel Barrymore (Otto Kringelein), Lewis Stone (Dr. Otternschlag), Jean Hersholt (Senf), Rafaela Ottiano (Suzette). BW-113m. Closed captioning. Descriptive Video. by Frank Miller

Grand Hotel on DVD


Greta Garbo's status as a screen legend became official when MGM billed her solely by her last name in Grand Hotel, the Oscar®-winning Best Picture of 1932 that's just been released on DVD by Warner Video. It was a distinction previously earned by such stage greats as Sarah Bernhardt and Eleonora Duse. Beyond her impressive billing, the film also cemented her image as the most reclusive star of all time, even giving her the line that would forever be associated with her, "I want to be alone."

Garbo's billing was one of the tools MGM used to induce her to take part in the screen's first all-star epic. At 27, she thought she was already too old to convincingly play a prima ballerina. Nor was she pleased when studio chief Louis B. Mayer decided not to cast her former co-star and one-time fianc¿John Gilbert, as the jewel thief who breaks into Garbo's hotel suite to rob her and ends up falling in love. Instead, the role went to John Barrymore, who was so pleased to be working with the Swedish star and his brother Lionel that he gladly signed a three-picture contract with MGM.

Production chief Irving Thalberg had planned Grand Hotel as Hollywood's first all-star feature from the moment he read Vicki Baum's novel about the intertwining fates of five desperate people staying at a posh Berlin hotel. Plans were already underway for a Broadway version, so Thalberg got the studio to invest $15,000 in the show in return for film rights. When it ran for over a year on Broadway, Grand Hotel posted a profit before the cameras even started rolling.

Garbo wasn't the only member of the all-star cast to express reservations about the film. Cast as a romantic secretary tempted to sleep her way to the top, Joan Crawford was afraid she would be lost among the film's high-powered stars and also worried that her character's best scenes would be cut by the censors. Thalberg assured her that the scenes would be filmed in good taste (they were later cut in several states) then ordered her to take the role.

Wallace Beery objected too, noting that the role of a villainous businessman was too far from the jovial roughnecks he'd played in films like The Champ (1931) and Min and Bill (1930): "He doesn't murder women, but he's lower than anybody I've ever played!" Thalberg finally won him over by agreeing to let him use a German accent to distance the character from the roles he normally played.

Most Hollywood insiders predicted the high-powered cast would spend most of their time upstaging each other. That was expected when John and Lionel Barrymore got together. Their upstaging contest in Arsene Lupin (1932), another film about a glamorous jewel thief, had inspired Thalberg to cast them together in Grand Hotel. But Crawford was having none of it. After watching them pull their tricks in a few scenes, she laid down the law: "All right, boys, but don't forget that the American public would rather have one look at my back than watch both of your faces for an hour." Beery tried to steal scenes, too, mainly by ad-libbing in an effort to throw Crawford off. When she complained to director Edmund Goulding, a painstaking craftsman with a strong reputation as a woman's director, he ordered Beery to play the role as written.

The all-star casting paid off when Grand Hotel opened to glorious reviews and strong box office, bringing back almost five times its cost in its first year of release. It also became the only film to win the Best Picture Oscar® without earning any other nominations. Many historians have suggested that feat as a sign of the picture's greatest strength. Thalberg and his cast had created such a seamless piece of entertainment that no one element stood out more than any other. MGM tried to make lightning strike twice with a 1945 remake, Weekend at the Waldorf, with Ginger Rogers in the Garbo role, but the film came nowhere near the magic of the original. Decades later, there were two stage musical versions: a flop called At the Grand in 1958 with musical diva Joan Deiner as the ballerina and the Broadway hit Grand Hotel: The Musical, starring Liliane Montevecchi, in 1989.

The Warner Video of Grand Hotel is a top notch job considering the age of the film. Because this is an early sound feature, there is a noticable but slight hiss on the audio but it really makes you realize the important role film scores would soon play in films of that era; Grand Hotel has no real musical score besides isolated moments (a waltz scene, etc.) so the sheer starkness of the mono track stands out. As for extras, there are some great ones here: "Checking Out: Grand Hotel" is a new behind the scenes featurette that includes some rarely seen archival footage, scenes from the Hollywood premiere of the film where you can spot Jean Harlow, Clark Gable and others, a teaser trailer entitled "Just a Word of Warning," and a newly discovered 1933 Vitaphone short - a musical spoof of the film. All in all, a fun package for the true movie buff.

For more information about Grand Hotel, visit Warner Video. To order Grand Hotel, go to TCM Shopping.

by Frank Miller

Grand Hotel on DVD

Greta Garbo's status as a screen legend became official when MGM billed her solely by her last name in Grand Hotel, the Oscar®-winning Best Picture of 1932 that's just been released on DVD by Warner Video. It was a distinction previously earned by such stage greats as Sarah Bernhardt and Eleonora Duse. Beyond her impressive billing, the film also cemented her image as the most reclusive star of all time, even giving her the line that would forever be associated with her, "I want to be alone." Garbo's billing was one of the tools MGM used to induce her to take part in the screen's first all-star epic. At 27, she thought she was already too old to convincingly play a prima ballerina. Nor was she pleased when studio chief Louis B. Mayer decided not to cast her former co-star and one-time fianc¿John Gilbert, as the jewel thief who breaks into Garbo's hotel suite to rob her and ends up falling in love. Instead, the role went to John Barrymore, who was so pleased to be working with the Swedish star and his brother Lionel that he gladly signed a three-picture contract with MGM. Production chief Irving Thalberg had planned Grand Hotel as Hollywood's first all-star feature from the moment he read Vicki Baum's novel about the intertwining fates of five desperate people staying at a posh Berlin hotel. Plans were already underway for a Broadway version, so Thalberg got the studio to invest $15,000 in the show in return for film rights. When it ran for over a year on Broadway, Grand Hotel posted a profit before the cameras even started rolling. Garbo wasn't the only member of the all-star cast to express reservations about the film. Cast as a romantic secretary tempted to sleep her way to the top, Joan Crawford was afraid she would be lost among the film's high-powered stars and also worried that her character's best scenes would be cut by the censors. Thalberg assured her that the scenes would be filmed in good taste (they were later cut in several states) then ordered her to take the role. Wallace Beery objected too, noting that the role of a villainous businessman was too far from the jovial roughnecks he'd played in films like The Champ (1931) and Min and Bill (1930): "He doesn't murder women, but he's lower than anybody I've ever played!" Thalberg finally won him over by agreeing to let him use a German accent to distance the character from the roles he normally played. Most Hollywood insiders predicted the high-powered cast would spend most of their time upstaging each other. That was expected when John and Lionel Barrymore got together. Their upstaging contest in Arsene Lupin (1932), another film about a glamorous jewel thief, had inspired Thalberg to cast them together in Grand Hotel. But Crawford was having none of it. After watching them pull their tricks in a few scenes, she laid down the law: "All right, boys, but don't forget that the American public would rather have one look at my back than watch both of your faces for an hour." Beery tried to steal scenes, too, mainly by ad-libbing in an effort to throw Crawford off. When she complained to director Edmund Goulding, a painstaking craftsman with a strong reputation as a woman's director, he ordered Beery to play the role as written. The all-star casting paid off when Grand Hotel opened to glorious reviews and strong box office, bringing back almost five times its cost in its first year of release. It also became the only film to win the Best Picture Oscar® without earning any other nominations. Many historians have suggested that feat as a sign of the picture's greatest strength. Thalberg and his cast had created such a seamless piece of entertainment that no one element stood out more than any other. MGM tried to make lightning strike twice with a 1945 remake, Weekend at the Waldorf, with Ginger Rogers in the Garbo role, but the film came nowhere near the magic of the original. Decades later, there were two stage musical versions: a flop called At the Grand in 1958 with musical diva Joan Deiner as the ballerina and the Broadway hit Grand Hotel: The Musical, starring Liliane Montevecchi, in 1989. The Warner Video of Grand Hotel is a top notch job considering the age of the film. Because this is an early sound feature, there is a noticable but slight hiss on the audio but it really makes you realize the important role film scores would soon play in films of that era; Grand Hotel has no real musical score besides isolated moments (a waltz scene, etc.) so the sheer starkness of the mono track stands out. As for extras, there are some great ones here: "Checking Out: Grand Hotel" is a new behind the scenes featurette that includes some rarely seen archival footage, scenes from the Hollywood premiere of the film where you can spot Jean Harlow, Clark Gable and others, a teaser trailer entitled "Just a Word of Warning," and a newly discovered 1933 Vitaphone short - a musical spoof of the film. All in all, a fun package for the true movie buff. For more information about Grand Hotel, visit Warner Video. To order Grand Hotel, go to TCM Shopping. by Frank Miller

Quotes

I want to be alone.
- Grusinskaya
Grand Hotel... always the same. People come, people go. Nothing ever happens.
- Dr. Otternschlag
When a man's collar is an inch too big for him I know he's ill.
- Dr. Otternschlag
I don't know much about women. I've been married for 28 years, you know.
- Preysing
You know I always say that nothing should be left hanging over. And names are like that. Suppose I met you next year and said, 'How do you do Mr. Preysing?' And you said, 'That's the young lady who was my secretary in Manchester.' That's all quite propper. But supposing I saw you and yelled 'Hi baby. Remember Manchester.'
- Flaemmchen
Yeah, and you were with your wife. How would you like that?
- Flaemmchen

Trivia

There are no scenes where Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford are in the same frame. This was done to eliminate the possibility that one of the two great stars might upstage the other.

Joan Crawford was irked by Greta Garbo's insistence on top billing and decided to take her revenge. Knowing that Garbo loathed tardiness and Marlene Dietrich in equal measures, Crawford played Dietrich records between shots, and made sure to arrive late on set.

The only Best Picture Oscar winner not to be nominated for any other Academy Awards.

Notes

According to a March 1932 New York Times article, author and playwright Vicki Baum based Menschen im Hotel both on a true story about a scandal at a hotel involving a stenographer and an industrial magnate, and on her own experiences working as a chambermaid at two well-known Berlin hotels. The first American stage version of Baum's Menschen im Hotel, entitled Grand Hotel, starred Eugenie Leontovich as Grusinskaya and Sigfried Rumann as Preysing. According to the Variety review of the film, M-G-M financed the stage production of Grand Hotel and in return acquired the film rights to the play for $35,000. Although Hollywood Reporter production charts and a New York Times news item credited Hans Kraly with preparing the script "with the assistance and supervision of Vicki Baum," his contribution to the final film has not been determined.
       Hollywood Reporter pre-production news items announced Clark Gable, Jimmy Durante, George E. Stone and Buster Keaton as the male leads. According to modern sources, Keaton was slated to play "Otto Kringelein." Although Hollywood Reporter production charts list actors Otto Matieson, Kathryn Crawford and Ruth Selwyn in the cast, their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. Hollywood Reporter pre-production news items also noted that Greta Garbo initially refused to play the part of the dancer. Modern sources list actors John Davidson (Hotel manager) and Sam McDaniel (Bartender) in the cast. A Hollywood Reporter pre-release news item notes that guests and visitors were barred from the set during the filming of John Barrymore's death scene. M-G-M publicity material indicates that Garbo rehearsed her romantic scenes under red floodlights to provide her with inspiration, and that two hundred pairs of woolen socks were worn out daily during the filming of the busy lobby scenes. The socks were worn on the outside of the actors' shoes to prevent noise.
       Following the New York opening of Grand Hotel, New York Herald drama critic George Nathan called the film "dull to the point of complete ennervation," and accused Lionel Barrymore of "[looking upon] Hollywood as a mere golden sewer from which to fish up some easy, if aesthetically tainted, manna." Nathan also said that Garbo was "one of the drollest acting frauds ever press-agented into Hollywood histrionic eminence." Garbo's famous line, "I want to be alone," is spoken in the fourth reel of the film. For reasons unknown, the New York Times review neglected to include starring actor Lewis Stone's name in the cast list. Both the Motion Picture Herald and New York Times reviews allude to a "gruesome" scene in the picture, which both reviewers agreed should be cut before the film's release. The exact content of the scene in unknown.
       Grand Hotel received the 1932 Academy Award for Best Picture. It was also voted as the best directed, best written and best acted picture of the year by the Hollywood Reporter poll of national film critics, and was voted best picture by both the Hollywood Reporter and Film Daily poll. According to an unidentified source in the AMPAS files, art director Cedric Gibbons was assisted by Edwin B. Willis and Alexander Toluboff. Modern sources indicate that the film was produced and distributed at a cost of $700,000, and was initially perceived as a John Gilbert vehicle. A biography of the Barrymore family notes that M-G-M production head Thalberg decided against Gilbert following the failure of his first three sound pictures. The Barrymore biography also notes that Wallace Beery, "protective of his lovable-brute image," initially rejected his "Preysing" assignment, but eventually accepted the role when Thalberg assured him that his character would be the only main character in the film with a German accent. In a filmography in the biographical film for Edgar G. Ulmer at the AMPAS Library, he is listed as production designer for this film and as the director of German and French versions. As no information has been located concerning any foreign-language versions of this film, it is possible that the versions in questioned were dubbed versions.
       The file for the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library contains an AMPP memo, dated November 27, 1931, in which Lamar Trotti, an AMPP official, wrote that the synopsis contained only one scene that offered "much occasion for worry." Trotti called the scene in which the dancer "flings herself into a bath, comes out stark naked and is seen from the Baron from behind curtains...wholly unnecessary." In January 1932, Jason S. Joy, another AMPP official, told Thalberg that there were two scenes that required "the most delicate handling" possible: the scene in which "The Baron" remains in "Grusinskaya's" room all night, and "the scene in Preysing's room when Flaemmchen visits him." Joy also objected to scenes involving "drinking, dancing women" and references to childbirth. When M-G-M submitted the film for reissue certification in 1936, the PCA suggested a number of eliminations, including "dialogue concerning reference to the mating practices of dogs"; "Grusinskaya" exiting a room dressed in white; references to "Flaemmchen's" figure; "Preysing" snoring; and the entire scene of "Preysing hitting Baron on the head and knocking him down and killing him."
       Grand Hotel was spoofed in the 1934 Reliance film Transatlantic Merry-Go-Round (see below), in which Jack Benny impersonates John Barrymore and Nancy Carroll imitates Greta Garbo in a mock radio parody of the film. The film was also spoofed in a 1933 Vitaphone two-reel musical burlesque entitled Nothing Ever Happens, directed by Roy Mack. The title of that film was taken from the closing line of this film, spoken by Lewis Stone: "Grand Hotel, always the same. People come-people go, nothing ever happens." The delivery of Garbo's line, "I want to be alone," was spoofed in the 1932 M-G-M film Blondie of the Follies by Marion Davies, while Jimmy Durante imitated John Barrymore in the same film. A 1945 M-G-M remake of Grand Hotel, entitled Weekend at the Waldorf, was directed by Robert Z. Leonard and starred Ginger Rogers, Lana Turner, Walter Pidgeon, Van Johnson and Edward Arnold. A 1959 German version of Grand Hotel, entitled Menschen im Hotel, was directed by Gottfried Reinhardt and starred O. W. Fischer and Michele Morgan. On November 12, 1989, the Broadway musical Grand Hotel, opened at the Martin Beck Theater in New York. The musical, which was adapted and choreographed by Tommy Tune, starred Liliane Montevecchi and Karen Akers. Hotel Berlin, a 1945 Warner Bros. film, was based on Vicki Baum's novel of the same name and concerned characters in a hotel during the decline of Nazi Germany.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1978

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1932

Released in USA on video.

Released in United States 1978 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (Special Programs - "Salute to Oscar" - Filmex Marathon) April 13 - May 7, 1978.)

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1932