For a while now I’ve been trying to review every single winner of the Best Picture Academy Award. It’s harder than you’d imagine to get hold of some of these films but I managed to track down Grand Hotel in New York recently. I chose it over 1927’s Wings by price alone but now wish I’d opted for the latter. Grand Hotel won the Best Picture award at 5th Academy Awards and is to this day the only film in history to be nominated for BestPicture and nothing else. The film is based on a play which is in turn based on a novel and is set entirely within the grounds of Berlin’s Grand Hotel at the end of the Weimar Republic’s Roaring Twenties. The film is full of glamour and charm but left me feeling rather bored for almost its entire one hour and fifty minutes.
Grand Hotel became the model for many films that followed and for its time was unique for blending various characters and storylines into a coherent narrative. The film follows some of the guests at the hotel over the course of a couple of nights following a statement from permanent resident Dr. Otternschlag (Lewis Stone) that “People come and go. Nothing ever happens”. Before Grand Hotel films weren’t as bold as to mix so many stories and characters in such abundance but the idea continues to this day with the likes of Babel and Crash.