Thursday, October 27, 2011


I remember back when I was a kid the TV series Hotel, based on a novel by Arthur Hailey. What I didn't know at the time was that many years earlier, the novel had been turned into the movie Hotel. That movie version is airing at 5:00 PM on October 28.

Hotel is one of those all-star movies, this time looking at the running of one of those grand old big-city hotels from the days before everything was part of a chain; in this case it's the St. Gregory in New Orleans. The hotel is losing money hand over fist, and owner Warren Trent (Melvyn Douglas) has a quandary about what to do. He can either make concessions to the unions who would wind up effectively running the place; or, he could sell out to businessman Curtis O'Keefe (Kevin McCarthy), who is visiting with his girlfriend Jeanne (Catherine Spaak) to close the deal.

Against the backdrop of this it's the job of hotel manager Peter McDermott (Rod Taylor) to keep the St. Gregory running smoothly. And you know fully well with a movie like this that there's going to be a lot on his plate to handle. In addition to the takeover fight, you've got a robber (Karl Malden) making his way into people's hotel rooms and stealing their money. On top of that is the Duke and Duchess (Michael Rennie and Merle Oberon). Although they're nobility, they've gotten themselves involved in a hit and run which resulted in a pedestrian getting killed, and they'd really like to cover it up. Finally, there's also the fact that the old hotel is falling apart, with one of the elevators getting very balky....

There are a lot of stories going on here at the same time. Hotel pulls them off reasonably well, although the movie does move a bit slowly at times. Still, most of the storylines wind up fairly convincingly. The acting is as good as most of the people here put on film, with Spaak being the one obvoius weak link, who looks as though she's there just for the eye candy. There's one long scene of her in Taylor's apartment that seems to go on too long, except that it's quite necessary to the plot for Taylor to be out of the hotel.

Arthur Hailey certainly knew how to write a good story: in addition to Hotel, he also wrote the novel Airport, and the original material for the movies The Young Doctors and Zero Hour!. Hotel compares well to all of those movies, and is well worth a watch.

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