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Hotel (1967)

Rod Taylor plays Peter McDermott, the hotel's general manager, in this movie based on the Arthur Hailey novel.

McDermott runs the posh St. Gregory Hotel in New Orleans in high style. He's seemingly everywhere and is ever charming, efficient, in charge. American Movie Classics calls him "James Bond in a day job."

Nevertheless, it's a troubling time at the hotel. The owner (Melvyn Douglas) needs to raise money to modernize it, but a ruthless hotel magnate, Curtis O'Keefe (Kevin McCarthy), is ready to pounce. The hotel has seen a modest turnaround under McDermott's stewardship, and he's on the verge of sealing a deal for union financing.

McDermott's honesty and good sense are no match for O'Keefe's underhanded dealings. While McDermott is "distracted," the shifty O'Keefe stages an incident in which a black couple is turned away from the hotel. The scene makes the union leaders balk, and they back out of the deal.

Doing the distracting is O'Keefe's mistress, Jeanne (Catherine Spaak). Despite her alliance with O'Keefe, she develops a respect for McDermott, and he's attracted to her. They wind up in his delightful but seldom-used apartment in the French Quarter. There, McDermott's smooth facade cracks a little upon glimpsing Jeanne stripped to her slip. It's a splendid piece of acting by Taylor, who brings a deft touch of humor to the scene, stumbling through the mixing of drinks before gathering himself for his rendezvous.

Meanwhile, back at the hotel, the guests have their own troubles, including a duke and duchess dodging suspicion in a hit-and-run accident, and a petty thief (Karl Malden) picking up cash while guests are sleeping.

Amid the chaos, McDermott is a sea of calm. Taylor stretches his acting legs from cool businessman, to romantic leading man, to man of action as he makes a heroic dangling-elevator rescue.

"Hotel" delivers pure entertainment, summed up in this four-star review:

Remember the old-fashioned movies where you got involved with all the characters? ... Remember when a great big picture was really just that -- a great big picture that you wanted to sit through twice with an extra bag of popcorn to keep you company? Well, Hotel is just such a picture. ... By all means, see Hotel and revel in its grand old style.

-- Modern Screen, April 1967

Despite all this, Taylor rates this movie as one of the least favorite of his career:

It made a lot of people a lot of money, but personally I didn't like "Hotel." I was so restricted I could not be my usual gregarious self. I was so stiff, I hated myself in that.

-- TV Times (Australia), Dec. 18, 1976

 

 

 

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LINKS

IMDb // Wikipedia

Turner Classic Movies

Cinema Retro review:
"Taylor is the glue that holds the fragmented story together and he evokes the qualities of what strong leading men used to be about."

Blogger review: Guilty pleasure, with pictures
 

 

VIEWER'S GUIDE

DVD on Amazon.com

DVD from Warner Archive

Scene on TCM

BEVERLY HILTON

Video on YouTube of the groundbreaking of an expansion of the Beverly Hilton, attended by stars of "Hotel." Rod is pictured here with his wife, Mary. Also on hand from "Hotel" were co-star Merle Oberon and director Richard Quine. Of course, Conrad Hilton was there, as was his ex-wife, Zsa Zsa Gabor.

         
   

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