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Filmed on location in New Orleans and on the Warner Bros. backlot in Burbank, California, Hotel (1967) was based on the best-selling 1965 novel of the same name by Arthur Hailey. It was also another in the long tradition of multi-layered story films in which several plots eventually weave together, as in Grand Hotel (1932) and Dinner at Eight (1933) and Arthur Hailey's later work Airport (1968), which was made into a film in 1970. In the case of Hotel, the various plots revolved around the owner, employees and guests of the failing St. Gregory Hotel in New Orleans.
Hotel was a film populated by craftsmen who had worked in the studio era of Hollywood, like director Richard Quine, who had been an actor before turning to directing, and costumers Edith Head and Howard Shoup who had been in films since the 1930s. The stars were Hollywood veterans: Melvyn Douglas, plays the hotel's owner who watches his property preyed upon by potential buyers like Kevin McCarthy, who wants to automate everything with conveyor belts. Popular Australian leading man Rod Taylor plays the hotel manager, Richard Conte is a hotel detective blackmailing a duke and duchess (Michael Rennie and Merle Oberon) who are hiding in the hotel after a hit-and-run accident. French actress Catherine Spaak is featured as a tycoon's beautiful mistress and jazz singer Carmen McRae is on hand to sing and speak a few lines. Nearly stealing the film is Karl Malden, who would reach the zenith of his career only a few years later in the television show The Streets of San Francisco, playing a hard-nosed cop. In Hotel, he plays a thief who breaks into guest rooms to steal cash and valuables. Malden later wrote, "I never said so little on screen or had so much fun." His performance would earn him a Golden Laurel award nomination.
Film critic Bosley Crowther noted the resemblance to Grand Hotel in his January 20, 1967 The New York Times review of the film, but times had changed as Hotel featured a scene of African-Americans being refused a room in the hotel. "[I]t brings into illustrative focus, for the first time in a Hollywood film that I recall, the helpfulness of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in a case of deliberate fraud...Hotel is colorful and crafty. It is entertaining without being at all profound. Now if only Greta Garbo had shown up, we might have had a grand reunion in New Orleans."
The film may have been inspired by an earlier work but it was later the inspiration for a successful television series, also called Hotel which ran from 1983-1988. Produced by Aaron Spelling, it starred James Brolin, Connie Sellecca and, in her final role, Anne Baxter.
Producer: Wendell Mayes
Director: Richard Quine
Screenplay: Wendell Mayes (written for the screen by); Arthur Hailey (novel)
Cinematography: Charles Lang
Art Direction: Cary Odell
Music: Johnny Keating
Film Editing: Sam O'Steen
Cast: Rod Taylor (Peter McDermott), Catherine Spaak (Jeanne Rochefort), Karl Malden (Keycase Milne), Melvyn Douglas (Warren Trent), Merle Oberon (The Duchess Caroline), Richard Conte (Detective Dupere), Michael Rennie (Geoffrey - Duke of Lanbourne), Kevin McCarthy (Curtis O'Keefe), Carmen McRae (Christine), Alfred Ryder (Capt. Yolles)
C-125m. Letterboxed. Closed Captioning.
by Lorraine LoBianco
Cowie, Peter and Elley, Derek. World Filmography: 1967
Crowther, Bosley. "The Screen: New 'Hotel': Multi-Star Film Opens at the Music Hall" The New York Times 20 Jan 67.
Heard, Christopher. The Suite Life: The Magic and Mystery of Hotel Living
The Internet Movie Database
Malden, Karl and Malden, Carla. Where Do I Start? A Memoir