Grand Hotel


D: Edmund Goulding

MGM (Irving Thalberg)

US 🇺🇸 1932

112 mins


W: William A. Drake [based on his play & the novel “Menschen im Hotel” by Vicki Baum]

DP: William H. Daniels

Ed: Blanche Sewell

Mus: William Axt & Charles Maxwell

PD: Cedric Gibbons

Greta Garbo (Grusinskaya), John Barrymore (Baron Felix von Gaigern), Joan Crawford (Flaemmchen), Wallace Beery (General Director Preysing), Lionel Barrymore (Otto Kringelein), Lewis Stone (Dr. Otternschlag)

The Best Picture Oscar winner for 1932 boasts an impressive cast as it brings William A. Drake’s stage play to the silver screen, itself based on the German novel “Menschen im Hotel” by Vicki Baum.

The plot follows a group of various guests as their fates intertwine at a Berlin hotel, as one of the permanent residents opines his observation that it’s a building where “people come and go & nothing ever happens”.

It’s a drama that has proven to be influential not only due to its Oscar win, but also because of Greta Garbo’s iconic performance, where she gets all the best and most memorable lines of dialogue.

The film is fine as a time portal into pre-code Hollywood filmmaking, as it truly is a product of its time & is particularly dated looking back on it through modern eyes, and whilst Oscar has immortalised it as 1932’s best, I personally think there are others which weren’t only better for the year, but have also stood the test of time much stronger.


Greta Garbo & John Barrymore in Grand Hotel
Greta Garbo & John Barrymore in Grand Hotel