Here is one of those kool little movies lost in time, a slice of life from the late 1960s that takes a peak into the lives of people, from the lowly thief to a Duke and Duchess and everything in between, all trying to just get by.
Starring Rod Taylor, Karl Malden, Melvin Douglass, Cathrine Spaak and Kevin McCarthy, and based on the novel Hotel by Arthur Hailey
The movie poster over there <— does a decent job of laying out what this flick is all about. Several different characters in different plot lines, all tied together by the Hotel Manager, Peter McDermott, played by the swank, sophisticated Rod Taylor. Talk about a real tight guy who had his act together, the Hotel Manager could take care of millionaire guests, handle the staff, help put together big-buck deals and swing with the craziest chick in the joint all with the finesse of a true gentleman…the only thing he couldn’t manage was to take a swallow of his drink.
Add in Karl Malden as down-on-his-luck petty crook, who’s specialty is lifting hotel keys from unsuspecting clients and burglarizing them while they sleep. Then pepper the works with a strange mystery, an age-old power play, a couple of hookers, some good ole’ fashioned racism (by the old guard, and how it’s totally uncool to the Manager) and a steamy romance. That’s Hotel.
The story takes place at the (then) 60+ year old St. Gregory Hotel in New Orleans (I’ve been trying to find out what hotel was used for the exteriors, but haven’t had any luck). The owner, Melvin Douglas, is facing a $2million loan payment that he just can’t meet, and will lose the hotel unless he gets either and injection of dough from the union (which he doesn’t want to deal with), or sells it to a real estate firm who will tear it down to build condos (sound familiar?). A third option presents itself when a rival hotel chain owner expresses a keen interest in buying the joint…but he has his own ideas how to manage the hotel, and that doesn’t sit so well with the owner…
Parallel stories intertwine with the Duke and Duchess who are hiding a horrible secret, Karl Malden adding a little comic relief with is tip-toe snatch and run routine, and The Manager trying to keep tabs on everything at once. A couple of very swinging cameos by Carmen McRae singing in the lounge and a few scenes with Richard Conte (of Ocean’s 11 fame) add to the koolness of this flick. That and the fact that you’re watching a time capsule from 40+ years ago makes Hotel worth a watch.
Dinner & Booze: A swank hotel like this would no doubt have all the best on the menu -Waldorf salad, Delmonico steak, vichyssoise, and since it’s in New Orleans, catfish. Throughout the movie the Manager constantly tries to have a double whiskey at the bar, and is always called away before he can take a drink. You, however, can drink up!
Fun stuff: Karl Malden, after coming up short with his night stealing routine, says something along the lines of “Damned credit cards…nobody carries cash anymore!” Funny that 20 years later he would be doing those commercials for American Express cards…you know, “never leave home without it”!
Here’s a clip from Hotel:
-Tiki Chris reporting from the screening room over the beach at Tiki Lounge Talk, your web lounge for the koolest Mod Movie Mondays around.