I Want to Be Alone

Grand Hotel is a grand Hollywood drama. Based on another 1929 German novel titled Menschen im Hotel, it was quickly followed by a 1930 Broadway play. 2 years later, Grand Hotel essentially became a play put to film. Except that it features an all-star cast and spectacular shots of the circular Grand Hotel in Berlin. Despite terrific performances, top notch writing, and excellent direction from Edmund Goulding, Grand Hotel has the unique distinction of winning Best Picture without a single nomination in any other category. That may have something to do with the increased number of movies nominated.

Grand Hotel stands out since it takes place entirely in the titular hotel where people come and go, but nothing ever happens. Lewis Stone plays a disfigured war veteran who witnesses most of the film’s events. There are at least five important players with their own separate escapades that only converge at a slowly approaching climax. I didn’t always understand what was going on, but Grand Hotel is very engrossing nonetheless. Since every character has a distinctly German name, it helped that they were all played by recognizable actors. John Barrymore is a Baron, a gambler, and a thief in desperate need of money to pay off a debt.

John appears alongside his brother Lionel Barrymore as a dying accountant trying to live life to the fullest. Lionel is so pathetic, yet so likeable at the same time. Greta Garbo plays a depressed dancer who just wants to be alone. This was my first time seeing Garbo in something and she doesn’t disappoint. The Baron plans to steal from the dancer and accountant, but he falls for the former and befriends the latter. An easier mark would be Wallace Beery as a sleazy industrialist or a young Joan Crawford as his passionate stenographer. Let’s just say I didn’t expect the Baron’s story to end the way it did. Grand Hotel is a clever concept that practically inspired its own genre.

Grand Hotel

The Grand Hotel

6 thoughts on “I Want to Be Alone

  1. This is another one I’ve ever seen in bits and pieces, nine times out of ten I was watching something else when it was on, but what I have seen is very well done. Grand Hotel is a fine example of how character driven stories can be engaging and exciting. The Barrymore’s were originally from my old hometown of Philly PA, one of the great acting family dynasties. Drew Barrymore is John’s granddaughter from his son John Drew and Lionel’s grand-niece

    Liked by 1 person

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