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Hotel Reserve

Hotel Reserve(1945)

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teaser Hotel Reserve (1945)

Based on the 1938 Eric Ambler novel Epitaph for a Spy, this British-made RKO release belongs to that subset of the mystery thriller in which a wrongly accused man or woman is obliged by the authorities to ferret out the guilty party or parties on his or her own. Hotel Reserve (1944) stars James Mason as an Austrian citizen on holiday in France, who stands accused of snapping photographs of a top secret military installation on the cusp of World War II. Directed by no fewer than three men - Lance Comfort, Victor Hanbury, and Mutz Greenbaum - who also acted in concert as the film's producers, Hotel Reserve was for its leading man one of several wartime thrillers (among them They Met in the Dark and Candlelight in Algiers) produced to uplift morale and provide diversion. Shot no closer to the Continent than Denham Studios in Buckinghamshire (founded by Alexander Korda in 1935, the site was or would yet be home base for such British classics as Things to Come, The Thief of Bagdad, and Lawrence Olivier's Hamlet), Hotel Reserve is an agreeable whodunit, though a quick scan of its supporting cast will give most film lovers a better than average idea as to the identity of the true foreign agent. The Ambler novel was adapted for television in 1954 as an episode of the American anthology series Climax!, starring Edward G. Robinson in the role originated by Mason (albeit rewritten to accommodate Robinson's age) and by the BBC in the spring of 1963 as a three-part mini-series.

By Richard Harland Smith

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