Filmsite Movie Review
Grand Hotel (1932)
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Plot Synopsis (continued)

In the Yellow Room of the hotel, Flaemmchen spoke to Kringelein at the bar, who said he had spent the entire day with the Baron: "We were in a motor car, 100 miles an hour, in an airplane....Oh, we had a marvelous time." She declined a 'Louisiana Flip' and ordered absinthe instead. The Baron arrived late for his date, and asked her to dance. The doctor asserted the importance of pairing up with a woman in life:

Believe me, Mr. Kringelein, a man who is not with a woman is a dead man.

The doctor, a veteran of the Great War (WWI), described his severe facial injury: "I served as a surgeon in the Great War - till the end. Grenade in my face. I carried diphtheria bacilli in the wound till 1920. Isolated two years."

During the Baron's dance with Miss Flaemm, he said he had been "chasing around" after money. After one dance, he suggested that she make "dear old duck" Kringelein happy by asking him to dance. She noticed a second time that he was very "different" from the previous day, and he confessed: "I fell in love last night. The real thing." She was skeptical of 'real' love: "There's no real thing. It just doesn't exist."

Preysing entered the bar area to find Flaemmchen, share a drink with her and drag her away. Kringelein briefly spoke to his detested plant boss and said he was "away" from his factory's assistant bookkeeper job due to sickness. After encouraging Kringelein to dance with her, Flaemmchen was approached by Preysing, rudely interrupted, and asked to take dictation immediately. Preysing also reprimanded Kringelein and accused him of having a malingering illness:

I understood you to say that you reported to our plant ill and you're here in Berlin indulging in diversions which are very much beyond your means? This is very extraordinary, Mr. Kringelein. I think that we should look over your books.

Kringelein argued back: "Does the world belong to you, Mr. Preysing? Haven't I got any right to live?" before the brutish employer allowed Miss Flaemm only 10 minutes before reporting for work. The Baron advised Preysing to quit criticizing his dying employee: "Let the poor devil alone. Death's staring him in the face." For a few moments, Kringelein experienced sheer joy dancing with Flaemmchen ("For the first time in my life, I'm happy"), although he was trembling as a novice on the dance floor. After the dance, she admitted that she had to perform work for the awful Preysing - she was just "another desk slave" forced "to earn a living."

When Preysing tried to dismiss Kringelein from the bar, the lowly employee gave Preysing a tongue-lashing. He complained to the "industrial magnate" about his enslavement of workers with unfair wages and work conditions. In retaliation, Kringelein was accused of embezzling company funds while working as a bookkeeper:

Mr. Preysing, I am not taking orders from you here....You think you have free license to be insulting? Believe me, you have not. You think you're superior, but you're quite an ordinary man even if you did marry money and people like me have got to slave for you for 320 marks a month...You don't like to see me enjoying myself. When a man's working himself to death, that's what he's paid for. You don't care if a man can live on his wages or not....When I was sick for four weeks, you wrote me a letter telling me I'd be discharged if I were sick any longer. Did you write me that letter or did you not?... An embezzler!...Who do you think you're talking to? You think I'm dirt? And if I'm dirt, you're a lot dirtier, Mr. Industrial Magnate Preysing!

Preysing lunged and grabbed Kringelein by the neck, and in a rage, he discharged Kringelein on the spot - but the fired employee wasn't intimidated at all by the threat and proudly shouted back:

You can't discharge me. I'm my own master for the first time in my life. You can't discharge me. I'm sick. I'm going to die. You understand? I'm going to die, and nobody can do anything to me anymore. Nothing can happen to me anymore. Before I can be discharged, I'll be dead! Ha, ha!

Elsewhere in the hotel, Senf complained to another employee about being tired after spending the entire night at the hospital - walking the corridor while his wife was in labor. In the hotel's dining room, Preysing met with Flaemmchen, and invited her to accompany him to England on a business trip ("involving hundreds of thousands of marks"). He proposed that she act as his secretary to take care of his correspondence, and asked what payment she desired. She mentioned the need for clothes, shoes and a suit, and then requested 1,000 marks. Revealing his real intentions to be intimate with her that evening, he suggested getting her a connected/adjoining room for the night: "Would you like me to get you a room here at the hotel? Now?" She spotted the Baron walking by and compared Preysing with the more respectable Baron: "He's a gentleman."

In the lobby, the Baron joined Kringelein who asked that they both visit the nearby casino "with the wonderful bright lights." To Kringelein's surprise, the Baron declined because he said he was broke. The Baron spotted his demanding Chauffeur (who represented a criminal group and had earlier insisted on the Baron's hotel thievery of pearls) and flatly stated: "I quit...I'm not getting those pearls, neither are you," but nevertheless promised to pay off his debt of 5,000 marks. The Chauffeur threatened to put a bullet in the Baron's head. The Baron noticed Grusinskaya in the lobby and greeted her. She urged him to attend her final theater performance in Berlin that evening ("I want to feel that you're there"), and he promised to rendezvous with her on the train after the ballet.

Realizing that the Baron was in "financial straits," Kringelein suggested giving him 300 marks. The Baron declined, but suggested that they could gamble and possibly win big at a game of cards. Kringelein was excited at the prospect, with 6,800 marks in his pocket's wallet, and they proceeded to his hotel room to arrange for a game of Baccarat. After a series of games conducted by Dr. Otternschlag, the Baron lost everything he had to bet with, while Kringelein won with "all the luck...for the first time in my life." He was overflowing with joy and overwhelmed the other gentlemen players with his drunken enthusiasm:

For the first time in my life, I've gambled and I've danced. You gentlemen can laugh, but for the first time in my life, I've tasted life!...Life is wonderful, but it's very dangerous. If you have the courage to live it, it's marvelous....Believe me, if a man doesn't know death, he doesn't know life...(He toasted) Drink to life, to the magnificent, dangerous, brief, brief, wonderful life...and the courage to live it. You know, Baron, I've only lived since last night, but that little while seems longer than all the time that's gone before.

Kringelein collapsed from intoxication after drinking too much iced champagne and was cared for by Dr. Otternschlag. The Baron noticed Kringelein's accidentally-discarded pocket-book wallet stuffed with his winnings (14,000 marks) on the floor, and in desperation, he stashed it in his own pocket. The "old drunkard" showed great distress and sobbed piteously when he realized his wallet was gone:

You don't know what that money means to a man like me. You've never lived like a dog in a hole and scrimped and saved...My life hangs on that money, Baron. Nobody ever gives you anything for nothing. You have to buy everything, and pay cash for it. I wanted to pay for my last days with that money. I must find it. I haven't anything in the world but that pocketbook! Every hour costs money. Oh, I must find it!

Because of his love and concern for Kringelein, the Baron relented, pretended to find the wallet, and returned it to the grateful old man. After leaving, the Baron changed his mind about knocking on Grusinskaya's room door (#170), and instead found Flaemmchen trying to locate her room (#164) - the one paid for by Preysing. He realized she was being 'bought' or prostituted and noted: "Such is life, Flaemmchen." He bid her goodbye: "Goodnight, funny one." After entering her room, Flaemmchen peered through the shared bathroom door, and spotted Preysing snoring loudly on his bed. She tiptoed to the bathroom door and closed it.

Meanwhile, after a triumphant, superb and successful performance, a jubilant Grusinskaya returned to the hotel. Porters delivered baskets of congratulatory flowers to her room.

Preysing awakened, entered Flaemmchen's room and wished to be intimate with her. He invited her into his adjacent room (#166) and called her "very sweet." He complimented her on being more "ladylike" (rather than 'coquettish') than he had originally thought. She refused to immediately fall in bed with him - and explained why she wasn't going to call him by his first name - it would be improper:

One can't get intimate just offhand. I could go to England with you and all that, but, you know, I always say that nothing should be left hanging over. And names are like that. Supposing I met you next year and I said: "'How do you do, Mr. Preysing.' And you said, 'That's the young lady who was my secretary in Manchester.' That's all quite proper. But supposing I saw you and yelled: 'Hi, baby! Remember Manchester?' And you were with your wife. How would you like that?

After complimenting her slender figure, he asked with a leering hint: "Are you going to be nice to me?... Very nice?...Miss Flaemm. You like me just a little bit, don't you?" Preysing was distracted when he saw a shadow moving across his bed in his own room. He confronted the Baron stealing his pocketbook wallet - the Baron had no choice but to hand back the wallet and apologize ("I'm completely at your mercy. I was desperate. It's a matter of life and death. I had to get some money tonight, somehow"). Preysing accused the Baron of being a thief who should be jailed and locked up. He also threatened with a boisterous voice to wake up the entire hotel and expose the Baron's true character. After they briefly struggled, Preysing bashed the Baron's head with a telephone and murdered him.

Overhearing the commotion next door in Preysing's room, Flaemmchen entered and saw the Baron's body on the floor, with Preysing looming above him and already providing an excuse for the cold-blooded killing: "He tried to rob me. He's a thief!" She screamed as she ran to report the homicide to Kringelein, who was sleeping in his room. She collapsed in tears on the bed as Kringelein left the room and approached Preysing in his room. The brutish industrialist insisted that he had acted in self-defense:

Preysing: He robbed me. He struck me. He's dead.
Kringelein: Baron. Dead, just like that. Look. His eyes are still open. He looks so peaceful. It can't be so hard to die.
Preysing: That pocketbook he stole from me. It's just like it was. I-I haven't touched nothing.
Kringelein: Oh, well, maybe he did try to take your pocketbook, but you don't kill a man for that. You don't kill a man about a pocketbook. Oh, poor Baron, he wanted money so badly.

Preysing then produced another false alibi - he accused Miss Flaemm of working with the Baron, to distract Preysing in the adjoining room while the theft was occurring. And then he tried to cover up the fact that she was a witness. He attempted to persuade Kringelein to change his story (and falsify the evidence) before the police arrived: "No one will know that I was with her. You were with her. They will not interrogate you. They will not ask you any questions. You cannot give no testimony. Neither can she say anything." Fearing prosecution and scandal, Preysing also begged for cooperation: "My existence is hanging by a thread. A scandal with that woman would mean ruin for me...Please help me. My life is in your hands," and he even attempted bribery with money, or the promise of a job promotion at the factory in Friedersdorf. However, Kringelein remained honest and steadfast, summoned the police and reported the murder, and Preysing was arrested.

In her room at 3:00 am while preparing for her departure by train to Vienna, the sleepless Grusinskaya had already changed her dress a second time, and wondered why the hotel was so quiet (the music had stopped). She smelled a large bouquet of flowers: "Those flowers make me think of funerals." She was expectant about a six week holiday in Tremezzo with the Baron: "I'm going to live like a real woman - perfectly simple, perfectly quiet, perfectly happy." She phoned the Baron's room but there was no answer. She spoke into the phone receiver: "I'm longing for you. I haven't been asleep. I kept thinking that you might come to me." She mused: "Where are you?"

An open coffin-like box holding the draped body of the Baron was loaded into the back of a horse-drawn hearse-carriage. Preysing was handcuffed and taken away by authorities in a vehicle at 6:25 am. Sleepless now for two nights, Senf reported late for duty after a second night spent at the clinic with his still-undelivered wife. News was received at the front desk of the killing of the Baron by the "big manufacturer" Preysing. Rumors were that the Baron was a thief, but head porter Senf felt that he was "a real gentleman...always friendly, such an agreeable fellow." The Baron's dachshund Adolphus was led out of the hotel on a leash by an attendant - the dog was metaphorically (and literally) almost swept away at the door by the broom of a hotel janitor. When Suzette learned of the Baron's death, she begged the chief housekeeper: "The Madame must not know." In Kringelein's room, he and Flaemmchen professed their mutual love for the Baron, and acknowledged that he was a burglar only because of extreme desperation:

He tried to raise money all day. And he laughed, poor devil. And a man like Preysing has to kill him.

Kringelein offered to take care of Flaemmchen ("I have enough money" - 13,600 marks total), after she admitted she was also desperate for money. They could travel together to Paris or anywhere else. He offered her 3,400 marks immediately, while they searched for a doctor to cure his terminal illness. In comparison to Preysing, she called him "a very good man." Kringelein was astonished by her love: "I never thought anything so beautiful could come to me." She agreed to travel with him: "We'll catch the first train to Paris," and they immediately phoned for two train tickets (as they sobbed in each other's arms). Meanwhile, Grusinskaya was also departing for the train, after being informed falsely by Pimenov and the chief housekeeper that the Baron would be awaiting her on the train - allegedly, he had left a half hour earlier. She exclaimed happily as she stepped outdoors: "The sun. It'll be sunny in Tremezzo."

As their chauffeured car pulled away, another one arrived carrying two honeymooners: Mr. and Mrs. Hoffman (Milton Holmes and Mary Carlisle), who began to check in. The hospital finally phoned Senf with news that his wife had successfully delivered a baby boy. Accompanied by Miss Flaemm, Kringelein paid his hotel bill in the lobby and happily departed with her to Friedrichstrasse Station, ultimately bound for the Grand Hotel in Paris to live the good life: "There's a Grand Hotel everywhere in the world." The doctor asked about his condition and was told: "Pain. I have none, doctor."

The lives of many guests had been changed dramatically during their short stay. The final well-known lines of the film were again delivered in the lobby by the laconic Dr. Otternschlag, standing symbolically behind the hotel's front revolving doors. He hadn't noticed the multi-charactered dramas in the hotel during the previous two days:

Grand Hotel. Always the same. People come. People go. Nothing ever happens.

Outside, the driver of an arriving bus announced: "Grand Hotel!"

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