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The Baroness and the Butler

The Baroness and the Butler(1938)


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On the last day of the Hungarian parliamentary elections, impeccable butler Johann Porok serves his master, Count Albert Sandor, the Prime Minister of Hungary, with his usual precision. Later in the day, after the polls close, Sandor and his family, which consists of his wife, the Countess, his snobbish daughter, the Baroness Katrina Marissey, and her philandering husband, Baron Georg Marissey, are astonished to hear on the radio that Johann has been elected to the parliament on the social progressive ticket, which strongly opposes Sandor. The stately prime minister takes the news in stride after Johann assures him that his new position will not interfere with his devotion as a butler, and in a radio broadcast, Sandor thanks his constituents for re-electing him and introduces Johann. Johann speaks strongly against Sandor's empty promises and ineffectual policies, which shocks the rest of the family but amuses Sandor. As time passes, Johann's eloquency in parliament draws quite a following, especially of admiring women, and Katrina finally goes to hear him speak. She is outraged by his defiance of her father's policies, as is the countess when she attends with Katrina later. Katrina even throws her purse at Johann as he is speaking, and when a brawl starts among the parliament members, Johann proves his sense of duty by escorting Sandor out of the hall. Later that afternoon, Georg informs the family that after Sandor left, a vote of confidence was taken and Sandor was removed as prime minister. Katrina sharply accuses Georg of not defending his father-in-law strongly enough, but Georg, who is trying to further his own career regardless of who is hurt, fends off her remarks by saying that a coalition cabinet has long been in the works. After Georg leaves, Katrina turns on Johann, reprimanding him for attacking her father. Johann explains that while he regards Sandor highly as a person, he feels he is an incompetent politician. Their conversation makes Johann late in attending Sandor, and Sandor reluctantly fires Johann for being lax in his service. Johann understands that the action is not related to their political opposition and calmly leaves the house he has lived in all of his life. Later, Katrina and Georg host a ball to impress Georg's political higher-ups, and Georg mockingly invites Johann. Katrina is at first outraged to have to receive a former servant as her guest, but as the pair talk alone, they reminisce about their lives together. He tells her of his dreams, both political and personal, and confesses that all of his drive for self-education and social betterment is due to his deep love for her. His admission stirs Katrina, and as they are kissing, Georg walks in. The next day, Georg's lack of violent reaction is explained when Sandor announces to Katrina that Georg has consented to give her a divorce if Johann's party endorses him for Minister of Commerce in the coalition, and if Johann retires from politics. Katrina, who now believes in Johann, rushes to the parliament building to prevent him from nominating Georg. At Johann's office, she tries to talk him out of committing political suicide, but he insists that he must avoid any scandal for her sake. He goes out on the floor, and as he announces Georg's nomination, Katrina interrupts him. In front of the entire audience, Katerina explains that she and Johann are in love and that Georg is blackmailing them to get the nomination. Her declaration moves the politicians, and Georg is booed out of the hall, while Johann is elected to the post. Soon after, Katrina happily serves her new husband, Johann, breakfast in bed.