A historical New Orleans hotel struggles to financially survive while the dramas of its various guests unfold.A historical New Orleans hotel struggles to financially survive while the dramas of its various guests unfold.A historical New Orleans hotel struggles to financially survive while the dramas of its various guests unfold.
Never Glossy; Filled With Fascinating and Real Characters; a Gem
"Hotel" was a very popular novel by Arthur Hailey. It told the story of the last days of the St. Gregory Hotel, an historic edifice in New Orleans, and of those who run it, visit it, covet it and try to use it for their own purposes. The conception of the screenplay that Wendell Mayes based on the novel is probably even better than the lovely execution of this cinematic gem; but that is only true I suggest because the idea was very clever indeed. The plot line concerns the hotel's aging owner, the great Melvyn Douglas, his young manager ably played by Rod Taylor, the man who wants to buy the hotel, Kevin McCarthy, and others such as troubled guests Michael Rennie and Merle Oberon, hotel thief Karl Malden, hotel detective Richard Conte, and the girl who comes into Rod Taylor's life, attractive but weak actress Catherine Spaak, plus many others touched by the edifice's power and struggling with the question of its future. These include Alfred Ryder, Harry Hickox, Ken Lynch, Clinton Sundberg, Roy Roberts, Tol Avery, Davis Roberts, Carmen McRae and many more. The art decoration by Casey O'Dell is memorable; the film has a very spacious look and fine fluid camera-work by director Richard Quine. The plot to expose Douglas as a racist that eventually ruins all deals to save the place from being sold and "modernized"or razed is equally memorable; so is the search for a murderer, Malden as a hot prowl "key-case" bandit who speaks no dialogue, and the use of the city of New Orleans as more than background to the hotel's past, present and future. Even the music is quite good. The movie lacks strong style, but voids gloss and achieves something quite unusual I assert; it becomes better than its material because it is functional, clean, intelligent--a sort of modern-architected house that provides a space for sparkling things to happen within. If it lack great meaning, this dramatic look at people's lives being lived in a fascinating building is one of the best of its sort since "Weekend at the Waldorf". For many reasons, it is a low-key but well-paced film that I can watch many times with pleasure.
- Jun 28, 2005
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