Grand Hotel Synopsis
The roaring '20s are still in high gear, and Berlin is the center of high life. Guests come and go at the opulent Grand Hotel, as cynical Doctor Otternschlag, who still suffers from World War I wounds, injects his morphine. Assistant concierge Erik, busy at the front desk, waits to hear of his son’s birth; his wife is having a difficult labor. Baron Felix Von Gaigern, young, good-looking and destitute, uses his charisma to help him secure a room in the overbooked hotel while stiffing a tough gangster who pretends to be a chauffeur. Ageing Russian prima ballerina Elizaveta Grushinskaya arrives with her entourage who try to persuade her that she still can and must dance. Her confidante and dresser, Raffaela knows that they would have to come up with a lot of money if the dancer failed to show up for her contracted engagements. Raffaela has feelings for Elizaveta.
Jewish bookkeeper Otto Kringelein, who is fatally ill, wants to spend his life's savings to live his final days at the hotel in the lap of luxury. The Baron helps him secure a room. Meanwhile, Hermann Preysing, the general manager of a failing textile mill, hears that the merger with a Boston company is off, spelling financial ruin; he does not want to lie to his stockholders but gives in to the pressure. He plans to go to Boston to try to revive the merger and presses his temporary secretary, Flaemmchen, to accompany him and "take care of him". She dreams of Hollywood stardom and fears she might be pregnant, but flirts with the Baron. She also agrees to a dance, at the Baron's suggestion, with the surprised and delighted Otto. Elizaveta suffers through another unsuccessful dance performance and rushes back to the hotel. She bursts into her room to find the Baron as he is about to steal her diamond necklace to pay back the gangster, but he pretends to be her biggest fan. The two fall in love with each other and spend the night. He agrees to go with her to Vienna so that she can fulfill her dancing engagements, and they will get married; they plan to meet at the train station.
Two African-American entertainers, the Jimmys, sing at the bar and dance with Flaemmchen. Erik tries to get off work so that he can join his wife at the hospital, but the unpleasant hotel manager, Rohna, refuses to give him any time off. The Baron has persuaded Otto to invest in the stock market, and Otto has made a killing in the market overnight. But Otto is not feeling well, and the Baron helps him to his room, resisting the temptation to steal his wallet. Otto rewards the Baron with some cash. The gangster confronts the Baron and directs him to steal Preysing's wallet; he gives the Baron a gun. Preysing has cornered Flaemmchen in their adjoining rooms and pressures her for sex. The Baron, who was in Preysing's room trying to steal his wallet, hears Flaemmchen's cries next door and walks into her room to defend her while still holding Preysing's wallet. After a struggle, Preysing kills the Baron with the gangster's gun. Preysing is arrested. Grushinskaya's heart is broken when the Baron does not appear at the train station. Raffaela keeps the news of the Baron's death from her until she reaches Vienna.
Otto offers to take Flaemmchen to Paris; he has plenty of money now so that they can enjoy the good life for as much time as he as left, and she realizes that she is fond of him. Erik has a son, and finds out that his wife came through the labor alright. Doctor Otternschlag observes: "Grand Hotel, Berlin. Always the same – people come, people go – One life ends while another begins – one heart breaks while another beats faster – one man goes to jail while another goes to Paris – always the same. ... I'll stay – one more day."