Friday, December 4, 2009

4th December 2009

I just finished watching Grand Hotel (1932) on you-tube (very trendy way of watching movies these days), and got my first taste of what Pre-code Hollywood was all about. It was really about show-casing all of the best stars of that era, in the most revealing way possible. Also, it made movies that could dare to be different, dare to do anything, before the Hayes Code prevented them from doing so. Grand Hotel is believed to be the first multi-plot talkie. It takes a look at different people's lives, who are all staying at the same hotel-the Grand Hotel in Berlin. Grusinskaya (Greta Garbo) is an eccentric dancer who just wants to be alone, when she find a thief in her room. The Baron (John Barrymore) was just out to steal her pearls for money, when he stole her heart instead. As Grusinskaya falls in love with the Baron, she invites him to come away with her, as long as he can get the money for the train ticket. Out of desperation, he spend the next day trying to find ways of getting money. Again, instead of stealing money, he steals the heart of stenographer Flaemmchen (Joan Crawford), who is powerful businessman Preysing's (Wallace Berry) mistress. Preysing employs a terminally ill Kringelein (Lionel Barrymore) as his book-keeper, who tries to give the Baron the money he needs. All these lives are brought together by tragedy, money and love, even though they don't know it. I talk about this film with such respect because it is the benchmark of glamourous all-star Hollywood movies. You see Garbo prancing so beautifully around her hotel room; Crawford being a flirt but ultimately turning out a very dramatic performance; John Barrymore trying to make everyone else's life easier while he is struggling himself; Lionel Barrymore talking as if his life were to end the next day; and Wallace Berry being a ladies man but also very powerful and cruel. No wonder this film won the Academy Award for Best picture in 1932. If you want to see what classic Hollywood was all about, then don't go any further than this film.

1 comment:

  1. I hope you can find the 'real' pre-codes, by the way, like NIGHT NURSE (1931, evil Clark Gable thinking of stealing infants for an adoption ring), SAFE IN HELL (1931 where hooker Dorothy Mackail thinks she's killed someone, albeit in self-defense, but she runs away). Drop me a note at this gmail address sometime.


You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.


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