7.9/10
1,303
17 user 12 critic

Downstairs (1932)

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

Director:

(uncredited)

Writers:

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

People who liked this also liked... 

Certificate: Passed Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

The evils of alcohol before and during prohibition become evident as we see its effects on the rich Chilcote family.

Director: Victor Fleming
Stars: Dorothy Jordan, Lewis Stone, Neil Hamilton
Mandalay (1934)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Abandoned by her lover, a woman becomes the main "hostess" in a decadent nightclub, but tries to put her past behind her on a steamer to Mandalay.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Kay Francis, Ricardo Cortez, Warner Oland
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A working girl is menaced by her tyrannical employer.

Director: Roy Del Ruth
Stars: Warren William, Loretta Young, Wallace Ford
Jewel Robbery (1932)
Comedy | Crime | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A gentleman thief charms a Viennese baron's wife and also conducts a daring daylight robbery of a jewellers.

Director: William Dieterle
Stars: William Powell, Kay Francis, Helen Vinson
Fast Workers (1933)
Certificate: Passed Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Gunner and Bucker are pals who work as riveters. Whenever Bucker gets the urge to marry, which is often, Gunner will hit on his girl to see if she is true or not. So far, Gunner has not ... See full summary »

Director: Tod Browning
Stars: John Gilbert, Robert Armstrong, Mae Clarke
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

An entrepreneur will let nothing stand in his way of acquiring a 100-story office building.

Director: Edgar Selwyn
Stars: Warren William, Maureen O'Sullivan, Gregory Ratoff
Ex-Lady (1933)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Although free spirit Helen Bauer does not believe in marriage, she consents to marry Don, but his infidelities cause her to also take on a lover.

Director: Robert Florey
Stars: Bette Davis, Gene Raymond, Frank McHugh
A Free Soul (1931)
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

An alcoholic lawyer who successfully defended a notorious gambler on a murder charge objects when his free-spirited daughter becomes romantically involved with him.

Director: Clarence Brown
Stars: Norma Shearer, Leslie Howard, Lionel Barrymore
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

San Francisco Tong hatchet man Wong must execute his boyhood friend Sun. Sun knew his time was up and wrote out his will just prior to Wong showing up at his door. When Sun realizes Wong is... See full summary »

Director: William A. Wellman
Stars: Edward G. Robinson, Loretta Young, Dudley Digges
Bombshell (1933)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Sexpot film star Lola Burns seeks a new image and tries marrying a marquis, adopting a baby -- all sorts of schemes which go awry.

Director: Victor Fleming
Stars: Jean Harlow, Lee Tracy, Frank Morgan
Dark Hazard (1934)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Jim is a compulsive gambler. He meets Marge at a boarding house and they get married. His gambling causes problems. When he runs into old flame Valerie, Marge leaves him. After a few years ... See full summary »

Director: Alfred E. Green
Stars: Edward G. Robinson, Genevieve Tobin, Glenda Farrell
Massacre (1934)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Joe Thunderhorse, a Sioux Indian who has become the wealthy star of a Wild West show, returns home to his reservation after years away and finds that his father is dying and his people are being abused by corrupt white officials.

Director: Alan Crosland
Stars: Richard Barthelmess, Ann Dvorak, Dudley Digges
Edit

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 Hoffman ...
Otto, the Wine Cellar Caretaker
Lucien Littlefield ...
Françoise, a Drunken Servant
Marion Lessing ...
Antoinette, Maid to the Countess
Edit

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

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Passed
Edit

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  »
Edit

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...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Featured in Complicated Women (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

The Wedding March
(1843)
from "A Midsummer Night's Dream, Op.61"
Written by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
Played as background music after the wedding
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
A Fine John Gilbert Talkie
17 July 2000 | by (Forest Ranch, CA) – See all my reviews

Karl, the new chauffeur, is dissatisfied with his situation as a DOWNSTAIRS servant in the Baron's Austrian castle. Completely immoral, he uses sexual blackmail to get what he wants - which is mostly money & power. But when he forces his attentions on Anna the maid, the butler's bride, he sets the stage for a confrontation even he can't handle.

According to cinematic legend, all the talkie MGM films starring John Gilbert were dreadful - the result of a bitter hatred between Gilbert (the highest paid star in Hollywood, with a $1.5 million contract) & studio boss Louis B. Mayer. A determination on Gilbert's part to fulfill the contract, and a campaign instituted by Mayer to destroy Gilbert's career - including spreading the rumor that Gilbert's voice was `high & feminine', culminated in several unwatchable movies.

Not entirely true. The Studio had a huge financial investment in Jack Gilbert and was not going to completely cut its own throat by showcasing him in nothing but dreck. Of the 8 talkies in which he appeared as solo star (1929 - HIS GLORIOUS NIGHT; 1930 - REDEMPTION; WAY FOR A SAILOR; 1931 - GENTLEMAN'S FATE; THE PHANTOM OF PARIS; WEST OF BROADWAY; 1932 - DOWNSTAIRS; 1933 - FAST WORKERS) most were certainly rather ghastly. DOWNSTAIRS, however, was quite decent, and, indeed, fully representative of the material the studio was producing in 1932. It is even based on Gilbert's own original story, and features good atmosphere & fine camerawork.

Gilbert is perfectly cast as the anti-hero of this pre-Production Code film. His smarmy charm is just right in a role which gives him very little sympathy from the audience. Paul Lukas, the fine Hungarian actor, is the real hero as Albert the butler. He effectively underplays his scenes & garners much of the attention from Gilbert.

The rest of the cast offers excellent support: Virginia Bruce as Lukas' innocent wife; Reginald Owen as the oafish Baron; Olga Baclanova as the stunning Baroness, one of Gilbert's victims; Bodil Rosing, most effective as the plump, aging cook infatuated with Gilbert. Hedda Hopper has a tiny role as a Countess who has run into Gilbert before, to her cost.

Movie mavens will recognize Karen Morley, uncredited at the very end, as Gilbert's new employer.

Finally, about The Voice. There was nothing at all strange or unnaturally high about Gilbert's speaking voice. As a matter of fact, it was of medium range and rather cultured & refined. Which was the crux of the problem, of course. While it is possible that no voice could have ever matched the perfect one viewers heard in their minds while watching his strong, virile silent roles, the reality was very different from what they wanted to hear (imagine Robert Montgomery's voice coming out of Clark Gable's mouth.) Gilbert was doomed from his first scene in his debut talkie; his war with Mayer only intensified the agony. He would die in 1936, forgotten by most of his former fans, at the age of only 36.


15 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
DVD STUPOR
Being Screened in NYC July 20 charcas67
"You've got flour on your whatchamacallit!" kelkyl
Available on Warner Archive Instant Streaming ekelks-2
last line cburbach-622-540619
Discuss Downstairs (1932) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?