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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Grand Hotel [Blu-ray]


(Edmund Goulding, 1932)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: MGM

Video: Warner Video



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:52:41.796

Disc Size: 21,334,034,660 bytes

Feature Size: 18,373,054,464 bytes

Video Bitrate: 17.77 Mbps

Chapters: 32

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: January 8th, 2012



Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1062 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1062 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio French 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio German 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Italian 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB



English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, none



• Commentary by Jeffrey Vance and Mark Vieira

Behind the Story

Checking Out: Grand Hotel  (12:20)

• Hollywood Premiere of MGM's Grand Hotel (9:24)

• Nothing Ever Happens (18:50)

Just a Word of Warning (1:15)


Grand Hotel (2:27) and Week-end at the Waldorf (2:42)





Description: In this great screen drama, the glitz and glitter of Berlin's opulent Grand Hotel comes alive with its star-studded guests and employees: Greta Garbo, John Barrymore, Joan Crawford, Wallace Beery and Lionel Barrymore.


Based on Vicki Baum's novel and produced by Irving Thalberg, this film is about the lavish Grand Hotel in Berlin, a place where "nothing ever happens." That statement proves to be false, however, as the story follows an intertwining cast of characters over the course of one tumultuous day. Greta Garbo is Grusinskaya, a ballerina whose jewels are coveted by Baron von Geigern (John Barrymore), a thief who fancies Flaemmchen (Joan Crawford), a stenographer and the mistress of Preysing (Wallace Beery), businessman boss of Kringelein (Lionel Barrymore), a terminally ill bookkeeper who is under the care of alcoholic physician Dr. Otternschlag (Lewis Stone). Grand Hotel won Best Picture at the 1932 Academy Awards.



The Film:

Greta Garbo's status as a screen legend became official when MGM billed her solely by her last name in Grand Hotel, the Oscar-winning Best Picture of 1932. It was a distinction previously earned by such stage greats as Sarah Bernhardt and Eleonora Duse. Beyond her impressive billing, the film also cemented her image as the most reclusive star of all time, even giving her the line that would forever be associated with her, "I want to be alone."

Garbo's billing was one of the tools MGM used to induce her to take part in the screen's first all-star epic. At 27, she thought she was already too old to convincingly play a prima ballerina. Nor was she pleased when studio chief Louis B. Mayer decided not to cast her former co-star and one-time fiancée, John Gilbert, as the jewel thief who breaks into Garbo's hotel suite to rob her and ends up falling in love. Instead, the role went to John Barrymore, who was so pleased to be working with the Swedish star and his brother Lionel that he gladly signed a three-picture contract with MGM.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

Gleaming deco dinosaur, Thalberg's pet, and the most legendary all-star movie ever made; a tribute to all that "stars" and glamour used to be in Hollywood's vanished Golden Age.

This omnibus blockbuster chronicles the intertwining lives of the denizens of GRAND HOTEL: Garbo, the lonely ballerina; John Barrymore, the noble thief; Crawford, the ambitious stenographer; Lionel Barrymore, the dying man on a last fling, and Beery, the ruthless industrialist. Lewis Stone and Hersholt exist to supervise and comment upon the others. If DINNER AT EIGHT, made a year later, has held up far better as a picture because it comments upon the rich and famous, HOTEL set the standard of those who don't achieve the twin pinnacles. Don't expect a particularly lucid screenplay or even acting of a high order; this masterpiece is hopelessly dated, directed by Goulding in the grand manner, and supported by Gibbons's, Daniels's, and Adrian's opulent work.

Excerpt from TV Guide located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Texture and contrast give Grand Hotel its greatest video appeal on Blu-ray from Warner.  The strength of the black levels is a key to the richness of the image quality which shows some heavy, very pleasing, grain. The film of over 80-years old has had care looking clean without damage or even minor speckles. The Blu-ray advances over SD, primarily in the manner that the grain is supported and the layering of the contrast.  It is only single-layered with a modest bitrate but I don't know how much further dual-layering would have taken the visuals. This Blu-ray appears to do its job with only very minor noise, in the darkest of scenes, as a inconsequential deterrent. I enjoyed the presentation quite a lot - the improved 1080P resolution made it much easier to drift back to the timeframe and its luscious, period, art direction. Garbo is hypnotic in close-ups.















Audio :

Lossless but unremarkable with a DTS-HD Master mono track at 1062 kbps. At the mercy of the elements and production quality, dialogue is occasionally scattered - but everything is audible. The original music is by Charles Maxwell with some classical pieces like On the Beautiful Blue Danube and Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No.2 in C minor build the grandeur inside the hotel's atmosphere and individual stories. There is no real depth to speak of but there are optional subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.


Extras :

Extras mimic the previous DVD with the informative commentary by Jeffrey Vance and Mark Vieira and 'Behind the Story' featurettes; Checking Out: Grand Hotel (12:20), Hollywood Premiere of MGM's Grand Hotel (9:24), Nothing Ever Happens (18:50) and Just a Word of Warning (1:15). There are also trailers for Grand Hotel and Week-end at the Waldorf (1948).



Fans of vintage cinema, Garbo, Crawford, Barrymore and the wonderful period clothes, Art Deco accents and architecture would seem to be the target audience for this classic. Grand Hotel may have lost some of its luster over the years but it still stands as a triumph of cinema days gone by. It is quite a beautiful film and seeing it on Blu-ray brings those impressive qualities to the forefront with more essence. I doubt we're going to see it ever looking any better and I, certainly, recommend! 

Gary Tooze

January 4th, 2013



About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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