Saturday, January 5, 2013

GRAND HOTEL (1932)

Produced by Irving Thalberg from the novel to Broadway and eventually this film GRAND HOTEL is, to my knowledge, one of the earliest full length films that not only had an all star cast (and what a cast it is!) but also employed the storytelling technique of having multiple smaller stories centered around a central theme.  The theme here is the luxurious Grand Hotel in Berlin where, as the doctor at in the opening scene says "People come and go. Nothing ever happens."  Of course that's bullshit cause tons of stuff happens.

One of the people that come and go is Great Garbo as a famous dancer who's career has seen better days.  She still has wealth though and part of that wealth (a pearl necklace) is the object of desire for hotel thief John Barrymore.  He gains access to the necklace, but at the same time falls in love with Garbo.  I mean who wouldn't?!  The same day industrialist Wallace Beery hires a stenographer (Joan Crawford)  who herself falls in love with John Barrymore.  At the same time Lionel Barrymore, who is a employee of Beery's, is spending his life's savings on an extravagant vacation at the Grand Hotel because he knows that he's going to die very soon.

That's just a bare outline, you should really watch it for yourself. The sets live up to the description of "grand", the story is fun and the acting is fantastic.  Required viewing for all classic Hollywood fans.

Also GRAND HOTEL holds the odd distinction of being the only film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture without it or its participants being nominated in any other category.  But then again back in 1932 the Oscars were still in their infancy and only had like 12 categories.
IMDb lists Allen Jenkins as "Hotel Meat Packer (uncredited)".  As best I can tell this is him.