Grand Hotel is a 1932 American drama film directed by Edmund Goulding. The screenplay by William A. Drake and Béla Balázs is based on the 1930 play of the same title by Drake, who had adapted it from the 1929 novel Menschen im Hotel by Vicki Baum. The film is the only one to have won the Academy Award for Best Picture without it or its participants being nominated in any other category.
In 2007, Grand Hotel was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." The line "I want to be alone," famously delivered by Greta Garbo, placed #30 in AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes.
The film was remade as Week-End at the Waldorf in 1945. It also served as the basis for the 1989 stage musical of the same title. The phrase "Grand Hotel theme" came to be used for any dramatic movie following the activities of various people in a large busy place, with some of the characters' lives overlapping in odd ways and some of them remaining unaware of one another's existence. Such "grand hotel" films have been set at airports, aboard ocean liners, in large department stores, etc., as well as in hotels.
Doctor Otternschlag (Lewis Stone), a disfigured veteran of World War I and a permanent resident of the Grand Hotel in Berlin, wryly observes, "People come and go. Nothing ever happens," after which a great deal transpires. Baron Felix von Geigern (John Barrymore), who squandered his fortune and supports himself as a card player and occasional jewel thief, befriends Otto Kringelein (Lionel Barrymore), a meek accountant who, having discovered he is dying, has decided to spend his remaining days in the lap of luxury. Kringelein's former employer, industrialist General Director Preysing (Wallace Beery), is at the hotel to close an important deal, and he hires stenographer Flaemmchen (Joan Crawford) to assist him. She aspires to be an actress and shows Preysing some magazine photos for which she posed, implying she is willing to offer him more than typing if he is willing to help advance her career.
Another guest is Russian ballerina Grusinskaya (Greta Garbo), whose career is on the wane. She unexpectedly returns from the theatre while the Baron is stealing her jewelry, and when she discovers him in her room she tells him, "I want to be alone." Disregarding her, the Baron stays and engages her in conversation, and Grusinskaya finds herself attracted to him.
Full article ▸