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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nothing ever happens..., 29 Mar. 2013
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This review is from: Grand Hotel [1932] [DVD] (DVD)
I have just embarked on a project of watching a number of classic films starting with the 1930s and 'Grand Hotel' seemed as good a place to start as any. Undoubtedly the film shows its considerable age and, perhaps because of this, it took me a while to get into the multi-stranded story. The sets and costumes are fabulous and one can see that this would have been an expensive movie to make in its day. The story moves slowly at first as we introduced to the various players. The only 'star' I was really familiar with was Joan Crawford. It seems to me that hers is the most 'modern' performance and it is easy to see that her career would continue to soar after this movie. I thought she was excellent in this - steely and ambitious yet also very likeable. I was quite surprised at how explicit her storyline became - it was very obvious what the little stenographer was up to - and with married men too! I assume the incoming 'Code' would have put a stop to that just a few years later. This was my first experience of Greta Garbo. She is melodramatic and over-the-top and very much a remnant of the silent era BUT I thought her performance suited the character very well and I really felt for her during her brief spell of manic happiness - her ultimate fate was the one that troubled me most at the end of the movie. The two Barrymore brothers struck me as very much 'of their time'; Lionel's character is more a caricature albeit an affecting one whilst John seemed already a little old for the romantic lead - his dialogue with Flaemmchen especially a little seedy. Walter Beery with comedy German accent was very much the pompous, arrogant old fool but his descent into true villain really surprised me. Indeed, the thing that surprised me most about 'Grand Hotel' was the sudden shift from fairly light, comedic entertainment to dark, murderous finale. It was completely unexpected and - to be honest - I found it jarring. I enjoyed the movie very much but I doubt that its one I will return to very often.

On a side note, some of the extras on the DVD are very good. As well as a 'making of' documentary, there is a super newsreel clip from the film's premiere showing the great and good (including Norma Shearer, Jean Harlow and LB Mayer) arriving for the first night. Even better, there is a short semi-musical spoof of the film featuring impersonators of the stars (the girl who plays Joan Crawford is especially good) and some hilarious dance sequences with a line up of hefty girl hoofers!
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 4 Oct 2013 16:22:14 BDT
Thanks for a helpful review. One aspect of it puzzled me though, you say "Undoubtedly the film shows its considerable age and, perhaps because of this, it took me a while to get into the multi-stranded story." Why? There are many examples of multi- stranded sorry lines in modern films, e.g. Nashville, Traffic, Shorts - do those present you with any difficulty? I just don't see the accessibility of the multi-stranded story being dependent on the age of the film. Just curious...!
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