To Be or Not to Be
In an interview with the LA Times, Anderson indicated that he’d like to achieve a similar “Europe on the Hollywood back lot” feel in Grand Budapest Hotel that Ernst Lubitsch displayed in To Be or Not to Be. He cited the film about a troupe of actors in Nazi-occupied Poland specifically. The wartime satire’s sophisticated, light comedy would make an excellent aperitif.
The Shop Around the Corner
This is the original You’ve Got Mail — and it actually takes place in Budapest. As much as we adore Nora Ephron, we prefer the original romantic comedy, which features the quiet narrative joys and sorrows Anderson loves to emulate.
Love Me Tonight
In the LA Times interview, Anderson admitted that he’s not a big fan of musicals, but Love Me Tonight’s aristocratic comedy won him over. A Parisian tailor (Maurice Chevalier) posing as a royal falls for the princess of the house (Jeanette MacDonald). A Rodgers and Hart score narrates their witty love affair that feels ahead of its time.
Film School Rejects first pointed to a potential connection between Anderson’s movie and the 1932 Academy Award winner, Grand Hotel. The Edmund Goulding movie also features an all-star cast — with Greta Garbo, John Barrymore, Joan Crawford, Wallace Beery, and Lionel Barrymore headlining — and follows the exploits of a jewel thief and other colorful characters in a Berlin hotel.
A Parisian Playboy’s father takes him off the family bankroll, and the young man rebels by joining a gang of car thieves. Production on the 1934 film, co-directed by and co-written by a young Billy Wilder, was a scrappy affair shot in Paris. Although the movie doesn’t take place at a hotel, Wilder conceived of the story while staying at one. The filmmaker had just arrived in the French capital from Berlin. He made the Hotel Ansonia his home, where a group of German film professionals that escaped the Nazis were also staying. It was there that Wilder met screenwriters H.G. Lustig and Max Kolpé who helped him draft a script for Mauvaise graine.
If old Hollywood and faux European sets don’t thrill you, try the 1995 anthology Four Rooms for a change of pace. The story takes place inside the fictional Hotel Mon Signor in Los Angeles and stars Tim Roth as a bellhop that encounters a picturesque group of guests. Directors Allison Anders, Alexandre Rockwell, Robert Rodriguez, and Quentin Tarantino offer the kind of visual textures and pithy wit that Anderson fans can appreciate.
Trouble in Paradise
This Ernst Lubitsch classic embodies the subtlety, sophisticated comedy, and visual wit of the filmmaker’s oeuvre. “As for pure style I think I have done nothing better or as good,” the director wrote of the 1932 film before his death in 1947. A gentleman thief meets a saucy pickpocket and a new con is born — until the con man falls for their target. For a movie that defines the era Anderson is chasing after, Trouble in Paradise is essential viewing.
This lighthearted crime-comedy caper boasts exotic locations and a European cast consisting of greats like Melina Mercouri, Akim Tamiroff, Maximilian Schell, and Robert Morley. The jeweled dagger a gang of thieves plots after sends audiences on a wild trip through 1960’s Istanbul and Greece. Topkapi has the international eclecticism of Anderson’s hotel tale.
My Man Godfrey
This Oscar-nominated favorite contains Anderson-friendly elements aplenty: a daffy society family, breezy screwball quips, subtle social commentary, and a snappy script. For more upper crust antics, Merrily We Live (made two years later) is a similar story that charms.
The Magnificent Ambersons
The association should be obvious by name alone. Does The Royal Tenenbaums ring a bell? Anderson has been vocal about his admiration for Orson Welles. This 1942 film — Welles’ second feature about fortune and flux in the automobile age — recalls Anderson’s beloved picture and keeps the family drama theme in the forefront of our minds.