Art Vs Commerce: Beginnings (20s/30s)


Ah. Breath of fresh air, was 1931. Okay, Academy, what’s next…

And The Oscar Goes To…

Hot dang, look at the names on this thing, Garbo, Crawford, two Barrymores, that seems worth a look. On the other hand, this carries the distinction of being the only movie to win Best Picture without even being nominated in a second category, and that’s weird. Well… I imagine it’s no Grand Budapest Hotel, but really what is, so let’s give it a whirl…

Hm. Yeah. It’s not, like, bad, it’s a character piece with a lot of strong performances, but it is hard to picture one way that it excels. It tells two days in the life of a half dozen people all staying in the Grand Hotel of Berlin: a stenographer (Joan Crawford); the boorish German businessman trying to seal a merger she’s working for (Wallace Beery); one of the businessman’s employees who, being diagnosed with a terminal illness, is out to spend his life savings in style (Lionel Barrymore); a faded prima donna ballerina (Greta Garbo, just playing it to the rafters); a Baron turned gentleman thief, who’s too soft-hearted for his own good (John Barrymore, anchoring the ensemble); and some doctor, I don’t know. They bounce off each other, for good or ill, each one changed forever by the end. Well, except the doctor, I don’t even know why I brought him up. Big names doing solid work, but…

I didn’t spot many great shots or interesting camera work, the script was okay… I can see not thinking it deserved any other major nominations, but usually when that happens you don’t nominate it for Best Picture either, let alone give it the Oscar.

And Rotten Tomatoes Says: With an adjusted score of 93.107% (which is lower than the film one rank down, I don’t fully get how this list works, but whatever), Grand Hotel comes in at 61/93, based partially on its value as a memento of a bygone era.

What Would Yancey Cravat Do: With as charismatic a figure as Yancey Cravat in their midst, there’d have been no need for conflict, everyone would have had cocktails and a good time. And the Baron’s criminal bosses would be taken care of.

The Box Office Champ

Oh god damn it it’s that asshole from Whoopee again and this time he’s mistaken for a bullfighter and yes he’s back in blackface and sure it’s one of the earliest Bubsy Berekley movies but no, no, not happening, moving on…

Bad job, 1932. If Grand Hotel had made another $300,000 I wouldn’t need to know this one existed. Be better, 1933…

And Rotten Tomatoes Says: Almost nothing. I feel like I’m doing film history a disservice by reminding people that Eddie Cantor existed.

What Would Yancey Cravat Do: Slap the taste out of Eddie Cantor’s mouth. Did the life and death of Yancey teach the 1930s nothing?

Other Events in Film

  • The film careers of Cary Grant, Ingrid Berman, Katherine Hepburn, and Shirley Temple all started in 1932, but the asshole audiences were all about Eddie goddamn Cantor.

Next Page: I Yield to Bad Schtick

Author: danny_g

Danny G, your humble host and blogger, has been working in community theatre since 1996, travelling the globe on and off since 1980, and caring more about nerd stuff than he should since before he can remember. And now he shares all of that with you.

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