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Film: Grand Hotel
"I want to be alone. I think I have never been so tired in my life."
Grusinskaya

"Grand Hotel... always the same. People come, people go. Nothing ever happens."
Dr. Otternschlag

Adapted from Vicki Baum's novel, this 1932 MGM film was directed by Edmund Goulding and featured an all-star cast including Greta Garbo, John Barrymore, Joan Crawford, Wallace Beery, and Lionel Barrymore. It tells the intertwining stories of the various guests who check into Berlin's famous Grand Hotel (based on the Real Life Adlon Hotel):

  • The Baron (John Barrymore), a poor aristocrat who's resulted to thievery to pay off his debts.
  • Mr. Kringelein (Lionel Barrymore), who has come to the Grand Hotel to live it up after finding out he is terminally ill.
  • Flaemmchen (Crawford), a secretary who is barely scraping by.
  • Preysing (Beery), a businessman who is desperate for a deal that could save his failing business.
  • Gruinskaya (Garbo), a Russian ballerina who is burned out on life.
  • Their stories are observed by Dr. Otternschlag (Lewis Stone), who's too drunk to notice that stuff does happen in the Grand Hotel.

Grand Hotel won the Academy Award for Best Picture, without even being nominated for any other Oscars, the only time this has ever happened. It was remade in The Forties as Weekend at the Waldorf, starring Lana Turner.


This film provides examples of:

  • All-Star Cast: In addition to Greta Garbo, there's also John Barrymore and his brother Lionel, Wallace Beery, Joan Crawford and Lewis Stone. In fact, Grand Hotel was one of the first true "all-star cast" films.
  • And the Adventure Continues: A young married couple check in to the hotel at the end, indicating that more people wlll come and have adventures.
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: Inverted; While some think that Greta Garbo's "I want to be alone" line doesn't exist, she says it in this film.
    • The confusion has probably arisen from a quote Garbo made herself in Real Life where she claimed that she never said that she wanted to be alone, but rather, that she wanted to be let alone.
  • Birth-Death Juxtaposition: Shortly after the Baron dies, the major-domo of the hotel (Jean Hersholt) finds out that his wife has delivered a baby boy.
  • Book Ends: Opens and closes with the inaccurate observations of Dr. Otternschlag.
  • Gentleman Thief: "Baron" Felix von Gaigern, making his living as a hotel thief.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: The Baron and Kringelein agree that the best life is "a short life and a gay one".
  • Impoverished Patrician: The Baron is the Black Sheep of his family, and flat broke as a result.
  • Info Dump: A series of telephone conversations at the beginning sketch out the stories of several characters.
  • Ironic Echo: The "nothing ever happens" line, said by Dr. Otternschlag for the second time after a great deal has happened.
  • Jerk Ass: Preysing, he's a perverted tyrant and a cheat.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: The only one to use a German accent was Wallace Beery, who plays the main villain.
  • Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: Subverted and lampshaded (see Ironic Echo).
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Kringelein, who no longer has anything to lose, gives this to his scumbag boss, Preysing.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Kringelein's response when a desperate Preysing tries to buy him off.
  • Sexy Secretary: Flaemmchen, who models in her spare time.
  • Weimar Republic
  • What Could Have Been: Buster Keaton was up for the Lionel Barrymore part. Garbo wanted her old boyfriend John Gilbert, a silent star whose career (like Keaton's) was in decline, to play the Baron.
  • White-Dwarf Starlet: Grusinskaya notices that no one misses her after she doesn't show up for the ballet.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: Otto Kringelein has a terminal illness, so he spends all his money to live the end of his life in luxury.


FreaksFilms of the 1930sThe Greeks Had a Word for Them
Tolable DavidNational Film RegistryThree Little Pigs
GorgoCreator/Metro-Goldwyn-MayerThe Great Ziegfeld
All Quiet on the Western FrontAcademy AwardThe Champ

alternative title(s): Grand Hotel
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