7.8/10
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Downstairs (1932)

Passed | | Drama, Romance | 8 May 1933 (Denmark)
An amoral chauffeur seeks to seduce a young bride.

Director:

(uncredited)

Writers:

(story), (screenplay) (as Lenore Coffee) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Albert, the Baron's Butler
...
Anna, Albert's Wife
...
Countess De Marnac
...
Baron 'Nicky' von Burgen
...
Baroness Eloise von Burgen
Bodil Rosing ...
Sophie, the Cook
...
Otto, the Wine Cellar Caretaker
...
Françoise, a Drunken Servant
...
Antoinette, Maid to the Countess
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Storyline

At the wedding of Albert and Anna, Karl, the new chauffeur, arrives. Albert is the head butler, second generation to the Baron. Karl soon seems out of place as a servant, and Albert tells him so. But Karl is a cad. Whenever he gets the chance, he will try to seduce Anna, who is not wise in the ways of the world. He lies without question if it is to his advantage and charms money out of Sophie, the old cook. He disrupts the household and then blackmails the Baroness to keep from being sacked. Written by Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

BACK AGAIN - the Gilbert of Old! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

8 May 1933 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

Der schöne Karl  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

John Gilbert wanted to do this movie so badly he sold the story to MGM for $1.00. Ads for the movie proclaimed "starring Mr. and Mrs. John Gilbert" since the couple was married shortly after the production completed filming. See more »

Quotes

Anna, Albert's Wife: [about her evening with Karl] Now you just wait a minute! I don't deserve to have you and me go all to smash. I've found out for the first time in my life - for the first time - that there are more than two kinds of feelings in the world. Is that my fault? There's a kind of way of making love that drives you mad and crazy, so that you don't know what you are doing. Are you going to throw me out in the street because I didn't know this before?
Albert, the Baron's Butler: Now you stop this kind of talk! And stop it right now...
[...]
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Connections

Featured in Complicated Women (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Lullaby (Cradle Song)
Written by Johannes Brahms
Played as background music when Karl carries a sleeping Anna to bed
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User Reviews

Terrific Pre-Code
31 August 2010 | by (Louisville, KY) – See all my reviews

Downstairs (1932)

*** 1/2 (out of 4)

Brutally honest and at times shocking Pre-Code about a chauffeur (John Gilbert) who gets one job after another only to blackmail both the rich as well as the poor servants. His latest job has him falling for a married woman (Virginia Bruce) who just happens to be married to the main servant (Paul Lukas). The con man begins to dig up dirt on the rich folks in the house so that he can swindle them and take off with the beautiful wife. Soon everyone in the house is being held hostage by the gossip and rumors started by the man. It's well known that Gilbert wrote the story to this thing and sold it to MGM for a single dollar so that they'd agree to make it. I've seen hundreds, if not thousands, of movies from this era and I must say that this here is without question one of the most unique, strange and downright bizarre of them all. While watching the movie it keeps you off guard as you never really know where it's going to go next but there's no question that it has one surprise after another and the story itself is brave enough to go in many directions no matter what the outcome. One example of this is an elderly cook who has pretty much given her life as a servant and managed to save up a lot of money, which of course Gilbert goes after. The Pre-Code material goes as far as having Gilbert seduce her and then verbally abuse her in such a way that you can't help but feel incredibly bad but at the same time shocked. What's even more shocking is that Gilbert allows his character to be even darker and meaner. There's no question that Gilbert's "power" was on its way down but it still took quite a bit of guts for someone of his stature to play a role like this. His performance here is incredibly good because he's so cold during the bad parts yet he's also so charming and warm during the scenes where he's taking advantage of people. One can't help but think this is exactly how this type of person would be and Gilbert nails it without any troubles. The performance is certainly the best I've seen from him and I'd say it's one of the most memorable villains from this era of Hollywood. Gilbert's then wife Bruce is terrific here as well as her abused character is so full and rich in detail that you can't help but feel as if you know her and feel the pain she's going through as she has to fight off the abuse from Gilbert but also the abuse she feels from her husband. Lukas is magnificent as the husband who has a strange loyalty to his employers who he feels more for than his actual wife. Bodil Rosing is terrific as the elderly woman who gets taken advantage of. I think a lot of people, even those familiar with Pre-Codes, will be shocked at how raw this movie is. The final fifteen-minutes contain some intense drama and an outrageous scenario but it works so incredibly well that you can't help but really respect the film. The movie is very adult in nature and the marvelous performances makes this a must-see for any film fan.


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