Luise Rainer was a highly acclaimed actress known for her remarkable performances in the 1930s. Born on January 12, 1910, in Vienna, Austria, Rainer had a brief but impactful career in Hollywood.

She is often remembered for being the first actor to win back-to-back Academy Awards for Best Actress, a feat she achieved in 1936 and 1937.

Rainer’s acting style was characterized by her emotional depth, vulnerability, and ability to convey complex characters with subtlety and nuance.

Her performances were marked by a naturalistic approach and a strong command of her craft. Despite her relatively short time in Hollywood, Rainer left an indelible mark on the industry.

While Luise Rainer’s filmography may be smaller compared to some of her contemporaries, she delivered standout performances in several notable films. From period dramas to intense character studies, Rainer’s talent shone through in a variety of genres.

In this article, we will explore some of the best movies featuring Luise Rainer, highlighting her exceptional performances and contributions to cinema. We will delve into films such as “The Great Ziegfeld” (1936), “The Good Earth” (1937), and “The Great Waltz” (1938), among others.

Through her memorable performances, Luise Rainer showcased her versatility and artistry, leaving an enduring legacy in the history of film. Her achievements, including her historic back-to-back Academy Awards, continue to be celebrated as milestones in the industry.

Best Luise Rainer Movies

Join us as we delve into the captivating world of Luise Rainer’s filmography, exploring the movies that solidified her reputation as one of the most talented actresses of her time.

1. Madame hat Besuch (1932)

“Madame hat Besuch” is a German comedy film released in 1932, directed by Carl Boese. The movie stars Lilian Harvey, Willy Fritsch, and Oskar Karlweis.

The film follows the story of Inge, a young secretary who dreams of becoming a famous actress. When she receives an unexpected visit from an Italian count, chaos ensues as misunderstandings and comedic situations unfold.

Here are three reasons to watch “Madame hat Besuch”:

Light-hearted Comedy: “Madame hat Besuch” is a delightful and light-hearted comedy that offers plenty of laughs and entertainment.

The film embraces the comedic genre, utilizing misunderstandings, mistaken identities, and witty dialogue to create a humorous atmosphere. It provides a fun and enjoyable viewing experience, perfect for those looking for a feel-good comedy.

Lilian Harvey’s Charismatic Performance: Lilian Harvey, a popular German actress of the time, delivers a charismatic performance as Inge.

With her charm and comedic timing, Harvey brings the character to life and adds to the film’s appeal. Her infectious energy and likable presence make her a joy to watch on screen.


Reflection of the 1930s Era: “Madame hat Besuch” offers a glimpse into the cultural and social aspects of Germany in the 1930s. The film showcases the fashion, decor, and lifestyles of the time, providing a nostalgic atmosphere for viewers.

It serves as a cultural artifact that captures the spirit of the era and offers insights into the entertainment of the time.

Overall, “Madame hat Besuch” is a light-hearted comedy featuring a charismatic performance by Lilian Harvey.

With its humorous storyline, lively characters, and a reflection of the 1930s era, the film provides an enjoyable and nostalgic viewing experience. If you appreciate classic comedies and want to delve into the cinematic offerings of 1930s Germany, “Madame hat Besuch” is worth watching.

Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau
  • Hardcover Book
  • Beaty, Andrea (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 09/02/2014 (Publication Date) - Harry N. Abrams (Publisher)

2. Heut’ kommt’s drauf an (1933)

“Heut’ kommt’s drauf an” is a 1933 German film directed by Hans Steinhoff. The film is a musical comedy that tells the story of a young couple, Willy and Lina, who dream of opening their own dance school.

When their landlord threatens to evict them if they don’t pay their rent, they come up with a plan to win a dance competition that will give them the prize money they need.

The film features popular German actors of the time, including Lilian Harvey, Willy Fritsch, and Paul Kemp. It is known for its catchy musical numbers, including “Ich wollt ich wär ein Huhn” (“I Wish I Were a Chicken”), which became a hit song in Germany.

“Heut’ kommt’s drauf an” was released during the early years of Nazi rule in Germany and was subject to censorship. Some of the film’s scenes and songs were considered too frivolous and were cut from the final version.

Despite this, the film was successful and remains a beloved classic in German cinema history.

3. Escapade (1935)

“Escapade” is a romantic comedy film released in 1935, directed by Robert Z. Leonard. The movie stars William Powell and Luise Rainer in the lead roles, with supporting performances from Reginald Owen and Virginia Bruce.

The story follows the adventures of a Parisian playboy, Henri Dornier (played by William Powell), who leads a carefree and extravagant lifestyle. When Henri’s wealthy uncle threatens to cut off his funds, Henri concocts a plan to stage his own kidnapping in order to extort money from his family.

During the course of his faux kidnapping, Henri meets an aspiring Russian ballerina, Lisa (played by Luise Rainer), who becomes caught up in his scheme. As the two spend time together, their initial animosity turns into genuine affection.

“Escapade” is a lighthearted and charming film that combines romance, comedy, and elements of adventure. The film explores themes of love, self-discovery, and the consequences of one’s actions.


The performances by William Powell and Luise Rainer are key highlights of the film. Powell’s portrayal of the suave and charismatic Henri Dornier is engaging, while Rainer brings a delicate and endearing quality to her role as Lisa.

Directed by Robert Z. Leonard, “Escapade” showcases his skill in directing romantic comedies and his ability to bring out the chemistry between the lead actors. The film’s elegant sets and stylish costumes add to its visual appeal.

“Escapade” was well-received upon its release, praised for its witty dialogue, engaging performances, and the delightful onscreen pairing of Powell and Rainer. It remains a charming and enjoyable film that captures the spirit of romantic comedy during the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Overall, “Escapade” is a delightful and entertaining film that offers a mix of romance, comedy, and adventure. It showcases the talents of its lead actors and the director’s ability to create an engaging and light-hearted cinematic experience.

You'Re All I Need (From Escapade) [Sheet Music, William Powell & Luise Rainer Cover]
  • Gus & Kaper Walter Kahn (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 01/01/1935 (Publication Date) - Robbins Music Corp (Publisher)

4. The Great Ziegfeld (1936)

“The Great Ziegfeld” is a 1936 musical biopic directed by Robert Z. Leonard and produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

The film stars William Powell as Florenz “Flo” Ziegfeld Jr., a famous Broadway producer and showman known for his lavish productions, and Luise Rainer as Anna Held, a French actress and Ziegfeld’s first wife.

The film tells the story of Ziegfeld’s rise to fame, his many romantic entanglements, and his production of the Ziegfeld Follies, a series of extravagant revues that featured some of the biggest stars of the day.


Along the way, the film showcases a number of lavish musical numbers, including a recreation of the “Wedding Cake” scene from the Follies.

“The Great Ziegfeld” was a huge commercial success and won three Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It is still regarded as a classic of the Hollywood musical genre, and is notable for its innovative use of Technicolor and its portrayal of the larger-than-life figure of Flo Ziegfeld.

The Great Ziegfeld
  • William Powell, Myrna Loy, Luise Rainer (Actors)
  • Robert Z. Leonard (Director) - William Anthony McGuire (Writer) - Hunt Stromberg (Producer)
  • English, Spanish, French (Subtitles)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

5. The Good Earth (1937)

“The Good Earth” is a drama film released in 1937, directed by Sidney Franklin. It is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by Pearl S. Buck. The movie stars Luise Rainer, Paul Muni, and Walter Connolly in the lead roles.

Set in rural China in the early 20th century, “The Good Earth” tells the story of Wang Lung, played by Paul Muni, a poor farmer who dreams of a better life. Luise Rainer portrays O-Lan, Wang Lung’s hardworking and devoted wife.

The film follows their journey as they overcome poverty, face societal changes, and strive for prosperity.

Luise Rainer’s performance in “The Good Earth” is widely regarded as one of her best. She brings O-Lan to life with sensitivity and authenticity, capturing the character’s strength, resilience, and self-sacrifice.

Rainer’s portrayal earned her the Academy Award for Best Actress, making her the first actor to win back-to-back Oscars.

The film tackles themes of family, love, ambition, and the relationship between humans and the land. It explores the challenges faced by the characters in a changing world and delves into the complexities of their interpersonal relationships.

“The Good Earth” received critical acclaim for its powerful storytelling, stunning cinematography, and compelling performances.

The film successfully captures the spirit of the novel, transporting viewers to a different time and place, immersing them in the struggles and triumphs of its characters.

Luise Rainer’s portrayal of O-Lan is a standout in her career, displaying her ability to convey deep emotions and inner strength. Her performance in “The Good Earth” solidified her place as one of the most talented actresses of her generation.

“The Good Earth” remains a significant film in cinema history, capturing the essence of Pearl S. Buck’s novel and offering a compelling exploration of human resilience in the face of adversity.

It stands as a testament to Luise Rainer’s remarkable talent and her ability to bring complex characters to life on the screen.

The Good Earth
  • The Good Earth - DVD Brand New
  • Paul Muni, Luise Rainer, Walter Connolly (Actors)
  • Roy Rowland (Director)
  • English, Spanish, French (Subtitles)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

6. The Emperor’s Candlesticks (1937)

“The Emperor’s Candlesticks” is a 1937 romantic spy film directed by George Fitzmaurice and starring William Powell and Luise Rainer. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Baroness Emmuska Orczy, who is best known for creating the character of the Scarlet Pimpernel.

The plot follows two spies, a Russian aristocrat named Baron Stephan Wolensky (played by William Powell) and an Austrian baroness named Maria (played by Luise Rainer), who are assigned to retrieve a pair of valuable candlesticks that hold a secret message.

However, their mission is complicated when they fall in love with each other and begin to question their loyalties.

The film features strong performances from its lead actors, who display a charming chemistry as their characters navigate the treacherous world of espionage and romance.

The film also boasts impressive production design and costume work, transporting viewers to the glittering world of 18th-century Vienna.

Overall, “The Emperor’s Candlesticks” is an enjoyable and well-crafted spy thriller with a touch of romance. It is a must-see for fans of William Powell and Luise Rainer, as well as anyone who enjoys classic Hollywood films of the 1930s.

The EmperorS Candlesticks Luise Rainer 1937 Photo Print (8 x 10)
  • The emperors candlesticks
  • Print type:
  • Paper size: 8.00 x 10.00 inches
  • Licensor: everett collection

7. Big City (1937)

“Big City” is a 1937 drama film directed by Frank Borzage. The movie stars Luise Rainer, Spencer Tracy, and Charley Grapewin. Set in New York City during the Great Depression, the film follows the story of Anna, a young woman who moves to the city with her husband and struggles to make ends meet.

As she faces various hardships and temptations, Anna must find the strength to navigate the challenges of urban life and preserve her marriage.

Here are three reasons to watch “Big City”:

Luise Rainer’s Performance: Luise Rainer delivers a compelling and nuanced performance as Anna. She won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal, becoming the first person to win consecutive Oscars in acting categories.

Rainer captures Anna’s journey with authenticity and emotional depth, showcasing her talent and range as an actress. Her performance anchors the film and brings depth to the character’s struggles.

Portrayal of the Great Depression Era: “Big City” offers a poignant portrayal of life during the Great Depression.

The film explores the economic hardships, unemployment, and social challenges faced by individuals and families during that time. It presents a realistic depiction of the era, highlighting the struggles and resilience of ordinary people trying to survive in a difficult economic climate.

Frank Borzage’s Direction: Directed by Frank Borzage, known for his skill in capturing human emotions and relationships, “Big City” showcases his talent for creating heartfelt and intimate dramas.

Borzage brings sensitivity and empathy to the story, focusing on the emotional journey of the characters. His direction elevates the film, infusing it with a sense of humanity and depth.

Overall, “Big City” offers a poignant and emotionally resonant portrayal of life during the Great Depression.

With Luise Rainer’s exceptional performance, a realistic depiction of the era, and Frank Borzage’s sensitive direction, the film provides a compelling exploration of personal struggles, resilience, and the strength of human relationships.

If you appreciate character-driven dramas with historical context, “Big City” is worth watching.

Big City Luise Rainer 1937 Photo Print (8 x 10)
  • Big City
  • Print Type
  • Paper Size: 8.00 x 10.00 inches
  • Licensor: Everett Collection

8. The Toy Wife (1938)

“The Toy Wife” is a 1938 American drama film directed by Richard Thorpe and starring Luise Rainer, Melvyn Douglas, and Robert Young. The film is based on the play “The Toy Wife” by French playwright Jacques Deval.

The story follows a young woman named Gilberte (played by Luise Rainer) who is married to a wealthy older man named Victor (played by Melvyn Douglas). Gilberte is unhappy in her marriage and begins to have an affair with a younger man named André (played by Robert Young).

When Victor finds out about the affair, he challenges André to a duel.

“The Toy Wife” was Rainer’s last film for MGM before her contract was terminated. The film was not a critical or commercial success and received mixed reviews upon its release.

However, Rainer’s performance was praised and she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.

Despite its initial reception, “The Toy Wife” has since gained a small cult following and is notable for being one of Rainer’s final performances in Hollywood.

9. The Great Waltz (1938)

“The Great Waltz” is a musical biographical film released in 1938, directed by Julien Duvivier. The movie is a fictionalized account of the life of Johann Strauss II, the renowned Austrian composer known for his waltzes. The film stars Luise Rainer, Fernand Gravey, and Miliza Korjus in the lead roles.

The story follows the rise of Johann Strauss II (played by Fernand Gravey) as he becomes one of the most celebrated composers of his time. The film explores his personal and professional life, including his relationships with his wife, Poldi Vogelhuber (played by Luise Rainer), and his mistress, Carla Donner (played by Miliza Korjus).

“The Great Waltz” features lavish musical sequences, showcasing the iconic waltzes composed by Johann Strauss II. The film incorporates these musical performances into the narrative, capturing the joy and beauty of his compositions.

Luise Rainer’s performance as Poldi Vogelhuber earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. She brings depth and emotion to her portrayal of Strauss’s supportive and resilient wife, who stands by him throughout his career.

Directed by Julien Duvivier, “The Great Waltz” benefits from his adeptness at capturing the grandeur of the period and his skill in orchestrating large-scale musical sequences. The film is visually impressive and captures the essence of the romantic era in which Strauss lived.

“The Great Waltz” received critical acclaim upon its release for its musical performances, production values, and the performances of its cast. It remains a beloved musical film that showcases the timeless beauty of Johann Strauss II’s compositions.

Overall, “The Great Waltz” is a captivating musical biography that pays tribute to the life and music of Johann Strauss II. It combines romance, drama, and exquisite musical sequences to create an enchanting cinematic experience.

The Great Waltz
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Luise Rainer, Fernand Gravet, Miliza Korjus, Hugh Herbert, Lionel Atwill (Actor)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

10. Dramatic School (1938)

“Dramatic School” is a 1938 drama film directed by Robert B. Sinclair, featuring Joan Crawford in a prominent role. In this film, Crawford portrays Louise Mauban, a talented but struggling actress who dreams of becoming a great dramatic performer.

In “Dramatic School,” Joan Crawford’s character, Louise, attends a prestigious acting school in Paris, where she faces various challenges and confronts her own insecurities.

She forms relationships with fellow students, including her rival, Nana (played by Paulette Goddard), and seeks guidance from her mentor, Professor Brizard (played by Charles Ruggles).

As Louise strives to perfect her craft and prove herself as an actress, she must overcome obstacles and discover her own unique talents.

Joan Crawford delivers a captivating performance as Louise Mauban, showcasing her range as an actress and her ability to convey both vulnerability and determination.

The film explores themes of ambition, passion, and the pursuit of artistic excellence, and Crawford’s portrayal of Louise embodies these qualities, making her character relatable and inspiring.

“Dramatic School” provides a glimpse into the world of theater and the challenges faced by aspiring actors.

It showcases Joan Crawford’s talent and presence, as well as her ability to shine in dramatic roles. The film is a testament to her versatility as an actress and her ability to command the screen.

If you have any more questions or would like information on other Joan Crawford movies, feel free to ask.

11. Hostages (1943)

“Hostages” is a 1943 war drama film directed by Frank Tuttle and starring Luise Rainer, Arturo de Córdova, William Bendix, and Jack Oakie.

The film is set in Nazi-occupied Paris during World War II and follows the story of Dr. Michele Simonnet (Rainer), a Frenchwoman who agrees to help the Resistance by hiding British and American airmen in her apartment.

When the Gestapo finds out about Michele’s activities, they take her father and sister hostage in an attempt to force her to reveal the whereabouts of the airmen.

Michele must then decide whether to betray her friends or risk the lives of her family.

“Hostages” was released during the height of World War II and was intended to boost morale among Allied audiences.

The film was praised for its tense atmosphere and strong performances, particularly that of Luise Rainer, who won her second Academy Award for Best Actress for her role.

12. By Candlelight (1949 TV Movie)

“Der erste Kuß” is a 1954 German romantic comedy film directed by Erik Ode. The film follows the story of a young girl named Gaby (played by Angelika Meissner) who falls in love with a wealthy businessman named Thomas (played by Gunnar Möller), who is much older than her.

Despite their age difference and the objections of Gaby’s father, the two become involved in a romantic relationship. However, their happiness is threatened when Thomas’s ex-girlfriend, a famous actress, comes back into his life.

“Der erste Kuß” is a lighthearted and charming film that explores themes of love, age, and societal expectations.

It features strong performances from its lead actors and is notable for its humorous and relatable script. The film was well-received by audiences upon its release and remains a beloved classic of German cinema.

13. Der erste Kuß (1954)

“Der erste Kuß” is a 1954 German romantic comedy film directed by Erik Ode. The film follows the story of a young girl named Gaby (played by Angelika Meissner) who falls in love with a wealthy businessman named Thomas (played by Gunnar Möller), who is much older than her.

Despite their age difference and the objections of Gaby’s father, the two become involved in a romantic relationship.

However, their happiness is threatened when Thomas’s ex-girlfriend, a famous actress, comes back into his life.

“Der erste Kuß” is a lighthearted and charming film that explores themes of love, age, and societal expectations.

It features strong performances from its lead actors and is notable for its humorous and relatable script. The film was well-received by audiences upon its release and remains a beloved classic of German cinema.

14. The Gambler (1997)

“The Gambler” is a 1997 crime drama film directed by Károly Makk. The movie stars Michael Gambon, Jodhi May, and Polly Walker.

It is based on the novel of the same name by Fyodor Dostoevsky and tells the story of Alexei Ivanovich, a compulsive gambler who becomes entangled in a web of debt and moral dilemmas.

Here are three reasons to watch “The Gambler”:

Compelling Exploration of Addiction: “The Gambler” delves into the psychological depths of addiction, particularly gambling addiction.

The film explores the destructive nature of Alexei’s compulsive gambling habit and the toll it takes on his personal relationships and sense of self. It offers an intimate and harrowing portrayal of addiction and the accompanying struggles, shedding light on the complexities of this human condition.

Stellar Performances: The film features stellar performances from its talented cast. Michael Gambon delivers a powerful and captivating portrayal of the troubled protagonist, capturing the inner turmoil and desperation of his character.

Jodhi May and Polly Walker also deliver strong performances, adding depth and complexity to their respective roles. The performances elevate the film and make it a compelling character-driven drama.

Thought-Provoking Moral Dilemmas: “The Gambler” presents thought-provoking moral dilemmas that explore themes of guilt, redemption, and personal responsibility. As Alexei’s gambling debts mount and he becomes increasingly desperate, he faces difficult choices that test his values and integrity.

The film raises questions about the consequences of our actions and the possibility of finding redemption amidst our darkest moments.

Overall, “The Gambler” offers a compelling exploration of addiction, stellar performances, and thought-provoking moral dilemmas.

It delves into the complexities of human behavior and the consequences of our choices. If you appreciate character-driven dramas that delve into the human psyche and explore moral themes, “The Gambler” is worth watching.

The Gambler [DVD]
  • Michael Gambon, Jodhi May, Polly Walker (Actors)
  • K�roly Makk (Director) - Charles Cohen (Writer)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

3 Reasons To Watch Luise Rainer Movies

Certainly, here are three reasons to watch Luise Rainer movies:

Award-Winning Performances: Luise Rainer is the first actor to win back-to-back Academy Awards for Best Actress for her performances in “The Great Ziegfeld” (1936) and “The Good Earth” (1937). Her performances in these films are widely regarded as some of the best in the history of cinema.

Range of Roles: Rainer was known for her versatility and ability to take on a variety of roles. She starred in dramas, comedies, and musicals throughout her career, showcasing her range and talent as an actress.

Hollywood History: Luise Rainer was a part of Hollywood’s Golden Age and worked with some of the most iconic filmmakers and actors of the time.

Watching her films provides a glimpse into the history of Hollywood and the evolution of cinema.

Best Luise Rainer Movies – Wrap Up

Luise Rainer was a talented actress known for her performances during the 1930s. She had a relatively short but impactful career, and here are some of her notable films:

“The Great Ziegfeld” (1936): Rainer won her first Academy Award for her portrayal of Anna Held, the wife of theater impresario Florenz Ziegfeld. Her performance in this musical biopic showcased her range and earned her critical acclaim.

“The Good Earth” (1937): Rainer won her second consecutive Academy Award for her role as O-Lan in this adaptation of Pearl S. Buck’s novel. Her nuanced performance as a Chinese peasant woman earned her widespread recognition and solidified her status as a talented actress.

“The Great Waltz” (1938): Rainer starred as Poldi Vogelhuber, the wife of Johann Strauss II, in this musical biographical film. Her performance captured the strength and resilience of her character and contributed to the film’s success.

“The Toy Wife” (1938): Rainer showcased her dramatic skills in this period drama where she played the innocent young wife of a much older man. Her performance highlighted her ability to convey complex emotions and garnered critical praise.

“Hostages” (1943): Rainer’s final film before taking an extended break from acting, “Hostages” showcased her talent in a World War II drama.

Her portrayal of a woman trying to protect her children during the German occupation of France was well-received by audiences and critics alike.

Luise Rainer’s career may have been short, but her impact was significant. Her performances in these films, along with others in her filmography, earned her the distinction of being the first actor to win two consecutive Academy Awards for Best Actress.

Her talent and contributions to cinema during the 1930s continue to be recognized and appreciated.