Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Hotel (1967)

Hotel (1967)

"I'm an old-fashioned innkeeper. I take care of my employees and they take care of my guests. That's the way I want it to be. I don't want it to change." - Melvyn Douglas as Warren Trent

Hotel (1967) follows the story of the fictitious New Orleans hotel the St. Gregory. Pete McDermott (Rod Taylor) is at the heart of the business. As the hotel manager he oversees all staff, attends to any urgent needs of the hotel guests and conducts business with the owner Warren Trent (Melvyn Douglas). Although the St. Gregory is the destination for many illustrious guests, it's in serious financial trouble. Pete convinces Mr. Trent to entertain an offer by wealthy hotelier Curtis O'Keefe (Kevin McCarthy). However, O'Keefe threatens to transform the place into a cold moneymaker rather than an inviting hotel with hospitality as it's main focus. O'Keefe brings with him his girl of the moment, a young Parisian beauty Jeanne Rochefort (Catherine Spaak). Jeanne is tired of O'Keefe and soon falls for the charming hotel manager. O'Keefe uses Jeanne and his co-horts to try to seal the deal for the hotel while Pete and Mr. Trent quickly try to find another buyer.

Rod Taylor as Pete McDermott in Hotel (1967)
Rod Taylor as Pete McDermott

Melvyn Douglas as Warren Trent in Hotel (1967)
Melvyn Douglas as Warren Trent in Hotel (1967)

Kevin McCarthy as Curtis O'Keefe in Hotel (1967)
Kevin McCarthy as Curtis O'Keefe

Catherine Spaak as Jeanne Rochefort
Catherine Spaak as Jeanne Rochefort

Then there are the hotel guests who prove to be an interesting bunch of characters, each with their own agenda. Merle Oberon plays Duchess Caroline whose husband Duke Geoffrey (Michael Rennie) killed a child in a drunken hit-and-run accident. The Duchess tries to cover it up but the hotel detective Dupere (Richard Conte) is on to them and tries to extort them. Then there is Karl Malden as Keycase Milne, the resident hotel thief with an impressive collection of room keys. He has his eye on the Duke and Duchess's room and the possible treasures inside. When a black couple book a stay at the hotel and Pete is not around, the hotel turns them away causing a scandal that's splashed across the newspapers. A business deal gone sour, an extortion, theft, a civil rights dilemma, a forbidden romance and an elevator on the fritz, everything comes to a crashing climax. The ending is one that I didn't expect but one that left me immensely satisfied and feeling good about the story's overall message: stay true to yourself.

Michael Rennie and Merle Oberon as the Duke and Duchess
Michael Rennie and Merle Oberon as the Duke and Duchess

Karl Malden as Keycase Milne
Richard Conte as Detective Dupere in Hotel (1967)
Richard Conte as Detective Dupere

Hotel (1967) is a gratifying film to watch on a rainy day. If you don't have any high expectations you'll be pleasantly surprised. It has it's flaws. It's terribly old-fashioned but that's what I liked about it. Taylor and Spaak lacked chemistry and Spaak quite one note to me. Another actresses would have livened up the film. I found everyone to be delightful to watch including Taylor, Melvyn Douglas, Karl Malden, Richard Conte and even Merle Oberon who I don't particularly care for. Jazz singer Carmen MacRae has a small role as the hotel lounge singer. Clinton Sundberg, a regular in 1940s collegiate movies, plays hotelier O'Keefe's personal assistant.

One could see Hotel (1967) as the 1960s answer to Grand Hotel (1932). The film was directed by Richard Quine, someone I have a keen interest in. Some exteriors and interiors were shot in New Orleans most notably in the French Quarter and in the New Orleans International Airport. Everything else was shot on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, California. Gowns were designed by Edith Head and Merle Oberon wore her own jewelry including a piece that once belonged to Marie Antoinette. The story was based on the best-selling novel by Canadian writer Arthur Hailey. He's also known for his novel Airport which was adapted in 1970 and spawned a series and a spoof. Hotel became a TV series in the 1980s starring Anne Baxter and James Brolin.

I enjoyed Hotel (1967) for it's motley cast of characters, interesting plot lines and for that glorious ending. It also serves as a time capsule of the goings on of a 1960s era hotel. The movie makes me long for a time when morals and personal truths trump greed. I'm drawn to movies about workplaces and this one did not disappoint.

Hotel (1967) is available on DVD-MOD from the Warner Archive Collection. You can purchase the DVD from the WB Shop.

Warner Archive Wednesday - On (random) Wednesdays, I review one title from the Warner Archive Collection. Thank you to Warner Archive for sending me a copy of Hotel (1967) to review!

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