Wednesday, July 23, 2008

One Hotel To Rule Them All

Best Pictures From the Outside In, a weekly series in which myself, Nick's Flick Picks and Goatdog's Movies examine a best picture winner from either side of Oscar's 80 year timeline [which means we'll be finishing up in the middle, the 1960s, next summer -ed.], has hit episode #5. [click here to read]

We're discussing Peter Jackson's JRR Tolkien capper Return of the King (2003) and 1932's all star ensemble drama Grand Hotel (an early prototype of what's now often referred to as the "hyperlink" film) in which several hotel guests crash into each other, their lives becoming intertwined. Almost to a one they're desperate in some way: for cash, for love, for companionship. But it's not a downer of a film so much as a soapy grabber. Joan Crawford is the bee's knees in Grand Hotel. She's glam, high spirited, funny, sexy and warm too (you heard me right) as a semi jaded stenographer whose looking for love but definitely willing to settle. Good performance, good movie. It's a happy episode of the Best Picture retros.

And, yes, Grand Hotel is the film in which Greta Garbo utters her immortal "I want to be alone". Poor sad ballerina Greta. She just wants to be left alone.

the series so far
episode 1
No Country For Old Men (07) and Wings (27/28)
episode 2
The Departed (06) and Broadway Melody (28/29)
episode 3
Crash (05) and All Quiet on the Western Front (29/30)
episode 4
Million Dollar Baby (04) and Cimarron (30/31)
episode 5 over @ GOATDOG's The Lord of the Ring: The Return of the King (03) and Grand Hotel (31/32) Meanwhile Nick provides more on the 1931/1932 best picture race and its many nominees. I haven't seen enough of them. I must get on that.


Benji said...

I really think Grand Hotel should be required viewing for anyone who thinks of Joan Crawford only as Mommie Dearest. She is so different and so great here.
But I also love Greta Garbo, who embodies so much of her own public persona in that film.
That said, I'm a total sucker for the LOTR films and can never decide whether I prefer Fellowship or Return of the King. Both films are so very different somehow, I guess this is why I find it difficult to compare them. But I'm very glad that the trilogy as a whole was finally rewarded, after the humiliating defeat two years prior, when A Beautiful Mind (wtf?) won over more than one superior BP nominee.

I love this series endlessly, keep it up! I'm already looking forward to My Fair Lady vs. The French Connection. That should be interesting ;-)
Once the series has ended, you could use the same approach to the Best Actress winners, as a new series :-)

Anonymous said...

I too really enjoy this series. Everytime I wish the discussion was longer.

NicksFlickPicks said...

@Dean: Be careful what you wish for. You have no idea how hard we work not to spout off twice as long as we already do.

Alex Constantin said...

I bet Mommie Dearest is gonna scare the shit out of poor Frodo.

Anonymous said...

For all I know it will never happen again but, if it did, is there any better way to handle the issue of how to fairly recognize the accomplishment of a 10+ hour movie divided (as per the source material) into three servings? The solution this time of giving a BP Oscar to the last installment seems patently unfair to the first of the three. Moreover, the other BP nominees facing ROTK had to feel they were being ganged up upon by, in effect, having to be better than three movies, one of which had clearly been robbed two years prior.

Anonymous said...

To Carl, I think you're right that this is a flawed system, but not necessarily unfair to the first two-- they're all of a piece, of course, and the Academy was smart to wait to see if it all unraveled in the last act (though, come on, how likely was that?) As for being ganged up on, it happens all the time in one way or another, whether it's the power of Scorsese sentimentality for The Departed or the monolith of Titanic. ROTK wasn't the first and won't be the last to steamroll the competition due to sheer momentum.

Classicfilmboy said...

Excellent piece as always. In regards to Grand Hotel, don't forget about the involvement of producer Irving Thalberg, whose uncanny ability to understand the rhythms of a movie are on display here. Plus he came up with the notion of the "all-star" cast. If you ever get the chance to see it on a big screen, do so, because it really hits home how these stars could entrance moviegoers.

Batemans Bay accommodation said...

Good to see this series and enjoyed pretty much.