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It is the fate of a small frontier town, adjoining the no-man's-land where the Russians and Austrians are fighting out one of the final campaigns of World War I, to be occupied one day by the Russians, the next by the Austrians, and the inhabitants soon acquire a complacent view of the changing allegiances. To the town comes Ann Warschaska, intent on avenging the suicide of her sister, who has killed herself after being betrayed by an Austrian officer. She knows no more about his identity than the number of his room at the "Hotel Imperial". She gets a job at the hotel as a maid but soon combines this work with modeling, when an eccentric Russian, General Videnko, with a passion for painting asks her to pose for him. Breaking into the fatal Room 12, she finds Lt. Nemassey, a young Austrian officer who has taken refuge there after being separated from the army. Thinking him the betrayer of her sister, she plans to hand him over to the occupying-Russians, but relents when she learns that... Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
Three actresses were cast as Anna. The first, Marlene Dietrich, was constantly at loggerheads with then-director Henry Hathaway - he wanted to deglamorize her. After some rewriting by 'Grover Jones', she finally quit, and production was frozen. Margaret Sullavan was then brought in as Anna and shooting resumed, but while clowning around with Ray Milland on the set between takes (she was squirting him with a concealed water pistol), she fell and fractured her arm. She refused to do the rest of the film in a sling as the studio heads demanded, and also quit. At this point Dietrich offered to come back, but Paramount refused and instead brought in Italian sex symbol Isa Miranda. However, Miranda knew no English and had to have all her dialogue supplied phonetically. See more »
I am surprised that I write the first review for Hotel Imperial. This movie is a little gem, and should be officially released in DVD by Universal, after proper restoration. Today only a DVD release by Loving the Classics is available, but only a real remastering by Universal could take away the dust and let its sparkle come to the surface.
This is one of those few movies that combine social satire, adventure and romance in a unique way... During World War I, a little Austrian town is conquered alternatively by Russian and Austrian troops, so that its inhabitants no longer know who is to govern them tomorrow and they finally learn to live with this. The "Hotel Imperial" is a sort of headquarters for the masters of the day, with its whole clientele departing in a hurry one day, only to be replaced by a new one, but in different uniforms, shortly after.
Isa Miranda plays Anna, a theater singer from Poland, who disguises as the hotel's chambermaid, in order to find the Austrian officer who was the cause for her little sister's suicide. Her humble clothes, however, cannot conceal her striking beauty nor her strong personality, determined as she is for revenge. Young Austrial lieutenant Nemassy, (Ray Milland, heavenly handsome in his Hussar's uniform!), falls for her, and their adventures begin.... We have two genuinely hilarious characters in the hotel's porter and the hotel's general duties clerk (Gene Lockhart and Curt Bois respectively), whose roles are very cleverly written. Also the eccentric Russian general Videnko, marvelously played by Reginald Owen and the corrupt Austrian officer and spy Kuprin (Carrol Naish), among various other characters. I should not forget to mention the excellent Russian male choir, that sing Christmas songs and the dancers who perform traditional Russian dances and are really a treat. Hotel Imperial is very expertly directed by R. Florey who leads us, at a pace that never slacks, to the well deserved happy end. What I like most in this movie is the ambiance, this feeling of constant change and constant danger, and how the human nature reacts, adjusts to this and tries to survive and make the most of it.
Hotel Imperial is a delightful movie and should not be missed by anyone who loves the romantic and the adventurous, with a touch of satire on the side.
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