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GRAND HOTEL

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GRAND HOTEL
($20) is grand entertainment from the golden age of Hollywood. Taking home the Academy Award for Best Picture of 1932, GRAND HOTEL was truly an innovative motion picture for its period. A marvel of production design and style, GRAND HOTEL featured an early version of what would be later called the "all star cast" in a wonderful ensemble piece that allowed some of MGMís brightest stars to shine in vivid performances. Based upon the play by Vicki Baum, GRAND HOTEL tells the intertwining stories of a group of guests staying at Berlinís Grand Hotel in the late 1920s. Certainly, the plot of GRAND HOTEL would seem to be pure soap opera, but the accomplished cast keeps the melodrama from overwhelming the film.

GRAND HOTEL featured Greta Garbo, the most luminous star of her day, as the aging Russian ballerina, whose insecurities may wreck the rest of her career. John Barrymore portrays the Baron, whose financial downturn forces him into less than dignified business activities. Wallace Beery is the industrialist who will face financial ruin, if an important merger doesnít go through. Joan Crawford is the beautiful stenographer, willing to do whatever is required by her new employer, for some extra money and a chance at travel. Finally, Lionel Barrymore is the dying man, who plans to see life out in a blaze of glory, while staying at Berlinís Grand Hotel. The cast of GRAND HOTEL also includes Lewis Stone, Jean Hersholt, Robert McWade, Purnell Pratt, Ferdinand Gottschalk, Rafaela Ottiano, Morgan Wallace, Tully Marshall, Frank Conroy, Murray Kinnell and Edwin Maxwell.

Warner Home Video has made GRAND HOTEL available on DVD in a very nice looking black and white transfer that frames the film in its proper 1.37:1 full screen aspect ratio. There is a noticeable grain structure throughout the presentation, but it is never excessive and completely in keeping with the look of many films from the very same era. Some of the photography has a diffuse look, especially the close-ups of the filmís leading ladies, which renders some shots a tad soft. However, most of the film is reasonably crisp, and displays a good level of detail. Blacks appear deep, the whites are solid and contrast is generally good, except for a couple of very brief shots that seem a bit unstable. The film elements used for the transfer are very clean for their age, with bits of dust and an occasional blemish being the worst of it. Digital compression artifacts are usually very well concealed.

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The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack is more than respectable. A bit of background hiss is always present, but it is not distracting. There were other minor hiccups in the sound, but nothing that canít be forgiven on a film that has passed the seven-decade mark. Dialogue is always understandable, and the voices have a respectable sense of character. Music is severely limited in fidelity, but this has to be expected from a film less than a decade into the sound era. A French language tracks is also provided on the DVD, in addition to English, French and Spanish subtitles.

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Music underscores the interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few extras. Checking Out: Grand Hotel is a truly fine twelve-minute program that looks back on the production of the film, as well as the legendary stars of the movie. Newsreel footage of the filmís premiere is also provided on the DVD, as are theatrical trailers for GRAND HOTEL and WEEKEND AT THE WALDORF. Just A Word Of Warning is a trailer of a sort that announces that the feature will only playing at Graumanís for a few more weeks. Finally, we have Nothing Ever Happens, an amusing musical Vitaphone two-reeler that spoofs GRAND HOTEL.

GRAND HOTEL is indeed a treat for movie buffs who want to experience this early Academy Award winning Best Picture in the digital format. Warner has done a truly fine job with the presentation of this vintage motion picture, which is certain to please anyone interested in an evening at the GRAND HOTEL. Recommended.

 

GRAND HOTEL 


Grand Hotel (1932)

 


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2004 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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