By Steven Suskin
10 Feb 2013
Not only did these titles win the Big Prize; they took a combined 19, with 34 nominations overall. Awards only mean so much, of course; these happen to be four excellent films, though, each of which holds up well as many as 80 years later.
The earliest of the four is M-G-M's Grand Hotel [Warner Home Video], and grand it is indeed. Producer Irving Thalberg stocked the movie with some of his biggest stars, led by Greta Garbo (who indeed says "I vant to be alone"), John Barrymore, Joan Crawford, Wallace Beery and Lionel Barrymore. This is the granddaddy of those interwoven melodramatic tales, with several stories taking place simultaneously. Here we have an aging ballerina (Garbo) whose career is fading away, an indigent Count (John Barrymore) whose fortune is faded away, a luckless stenographer (Crawford) whose hope is fading away, a bullish industrialist (Beery) whose reputation is fading away, and a mousey bookkeeper (Lionel Barrymore) whose life is fading away. All rushing in and out through the revolving door of the Grand Hotel, Berlin.
While this was indeed the 1932 Best Picture winner — in the fifth year of the Oscars — it holds a record as the only Best Picture not to be nominated in any other categories. Beery did win the Best Actor award that year, tied with Fredric March for "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." But Beery won for "The Champ," not "Grand Hotel."
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