Sam Makintosh is worried. His film production company is facing bankruptcy, but all it takes to fight off competition is the one idea that will guarantee sensational box office success. Enter Marylou, Makintosh’s daughter, who is not only eager to take over the leadership of the company, but also presents her father with an outrageously ambitious plan: she will travel to the French Riviera to recruit members of the exiled European aristocracy as stars in the films of their own lives.
Act I: Cannes
Upon arrival at the Grand Hotel, Marylou seeks out the most illustrious guest: Princess Isabella of Spain, who hopes for the reinstatement of the Spanish monarchy while in hiding. Her com- panion and fiancé, Prince Andreas Stephan of Austria immediately takes Marylou’s fancy – she senses a hidden screen talent! Isabella has her own secret admirer; waiter Albert, who is none else but the son of hotel proprietor Mr Chamoix but keeps his real identity under wraps while in training. Albert tirelessly attempts to win Isabella’s heart, but as a lowly servant, re- ceives only mockery in return. In a conference addressing the royal family’s vanishing financial reserves, Isabella decides to sell her pearl necklace. However, upon inspection by a jeweller, the necklace reveals itself as a worthless fake. Isabella’s hopes dwindle further when a news bulletin announcing the reinstatement of the Spanish monarchy is proven to be a hoax.
Marylou is intensifying her undercover research and has taken up a position as a room maid, now calling herself Mabel. Albert, her new best friend, is rather busy himself after being hired as Isabella’s private waiter and having to attend to her day and night. He is yet unaware of her budding feelings for him. “Mabel”, ingenious as ever, suggests a public flirt at the bar to make Isabella show her cards. Albert is no longer willing to endure his employer’s treatment and reveals himself to be Mr Chamoix’s son and wealthy heir. While obviously having amorous feelings towards him, Isabella rejects Albert for being a “commoner”.
Amidst the emotional turmoil in Cannes, Isabella has surprisingly accepted Marylou’s film offer. No longer engaged to Andreas Stephan – to his and Marylou’s great enjoyment – she launches a dazzling career as a film star. All plans are ready to film “Märchen im Grand-Hotel”, with one protagonist missing. Enter the mysterious Duke of Muränien: Albert! Having invested in Euro- pean aristocracy, he can finally make Isabella an offer she can’t refuse. Happy end!