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Downstairs (1932)

An amoral chauffeur seeks to seduce a young bride.


Monta Bell (uncredited)


John Gilbert (story), Lenore J. Coffee (screenplay) (as Lenore Coffee) | 1 more credit »




Complete credited cast:
John Gilbert ... Karl Schneider
Paul Lukas ... Albert - the Baron's Butler
Virginia Bruce ... Anna - Albert's Wife
Hedda Hopper ... Countess De Marnac
Reginald Owen ... Baron 'Nicky' von Burgen
Olga Baclanova ... 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


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


HE WAS A BACHELOR ON A PERPETUAL HONEYMOON! (Print Ad- Daily Star, ((Long Island City, NY)) 18 November 1932) See more »


Drama | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


This film's earliest documented telecast took place in Seattle Thursday 30 July 1957 on KING (Channel 5); aged, obscure, with forgotten players, and too severely pre-code for 1950s audiences, sponsors looked in the opposite direction when its name came up, and so it was only occasionally taken off the shelf, in the less predominant markets. It reappeared in Norfolk VA 3 December 1957 on WTAR (Channel 3), in both Portland, OR and in Honolulu, HI 21 January 1958 on KGW (Channel 8) and on KHVH (Channel 13), in Cincinnati, OH 1 April 1958 on WLW-T (Channel 5), in San Antonio, TX 3 May 1958 on WOAI (Channel 4), in Indianapolis, IN 5 May 1958 on WLW-I (Channel 13), in Greenville, SC 21 July 1958 on WFBC (Channel 4), in Portland, ME 23 August 1958 on WMTW (Channel 8), in Windsor, ON (serving Detroit) 1 September 1958 on CKLW (Channel 9), in Tampa, FL 24 March 1959 on WFLA (Channel 8), in Philadelphia, PA 9 May 1959 on WFIL (Channel 6), and in Peoria, IL 27 May 1959 on WTVH (Channel 19). See more »


[All goofs for this title are spoilers.] See more »


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're doing. Are you going to throw me out in the street because I never knew this before?
Albert, the Baron's Butler: Now you stop this kind of talk! And stop it right now! ...
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Crazy Credits

Although there is no actual director credit, the phrase "A ----- ------- Production" was commonly understood in those days to mean that the named person (in this case, Monta Bell) functioned as both producer and director. This was phased out when the DGA began requiring an explicit director credit. (Years later, directors like Alfred Hitchcock and Frank Capra would reverse it, taking no producer credit.) See more »


Featured in Complicated Women (2003) See more »


Schnitzelbank Song
Traditional German drinking song
Sung a cappella by Paul Lukas and Virginia Bruce
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User Reviews

Gilbert triumphs as talking actor
4 September 1999 | by kah-2See all my reviews

John Gilbert was the highest paid actor in Hollywood in 1929, the year silent films breathed their last. By 1933 he was through with movies and by 1935 he was dead. Lots of people believe bad things about him, mainly that he had a high squeaky voice or that he was a ham who couldn't adjust to talkies. In "Downstairs" he proves that both of these myths are false. The film is a splendid little drama--"little" being the only kind of movie MGM would cast him in by then--about a scheming chauffeur who blackmails or steals from practically everybody at the mansion he works at. Paul Lukas, years from stardom, plays the head butler, and Virginia Bruce (who married Gilbert in real life) plays the butler's new bride. The script and story are flawless, and Gilbert, playing very much against type, shines as the amoral chauffeur. "Downstairs" is a sophisticated drama that could not have been made a few years later after the censors cracked down on Hollywood, but more importantly, it is a testament to John Gilbert, who might have had a successful career in the talkies if he had been given a chance.

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Release Date:

11 November 1932 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

Downstairs See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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