Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Old-Time Formula Works Well for "Hotel"

Cleveland Press March 17, 1967

Ever wonder what happened to those old, big movies? You know the ones whose casts were "star studded," the pictures that promised not one but several dramas, the movies that never pretended to be anything but entertaining and delivered?

Well sir, such a movie is "Hotel," a lively and diverting affair appearing on local screens this week. There are good performances from actors who know their trade and work at it, lively direction and a good enough story to keep audiences occupied.

"HOTEL" has a formula framework -- the single setting in which a number of different people come together, play out their brief dramas which sometimes overlap, and then go their separate ways.

It is the sort of movie that was done in the 30's as "Grand Hotel," and more recently as "The VIP's." It undoubtedly will be done again.

"Hotel" is an outstanding example of this formula because it is expertly made. It also has something that most of these dramas lack -- and that is a single plot thread that dominates the movie and carries it through to a conclusion.

THE SETTING is a plush, old hotel in New Orleans owned by an aging man (Melvyn Douglas) who is an innkeeper of the old school; and managed by a bright, energetic young man (Rod Taylor) who is starting to put the old place back on its feet.

The hotel is desired by an out-of-town chain run by a ruthless young tycoon (Kevin McCarthy) who picks up properties wherever and whatever way he can.

Also willing to deal is a union that would invest if it could organize the hotel employees and a real estate outfit that wants to tear the place down. Which way the deal will go is part of the suspense that holds the film together.

FOR THE REMAINDER there are subplots reflecting the humorous, sad and sleazy things that go on behind the scenes.

Among the other characters are Michael Rennie and Merle Oberon expertly playing a duke and duchess involved in a hit-and-run accident, Richard Conte as a blackmailing hotel detective and Karl Malden as a clever hotel thief.

The latter has few lines of dialog but among them are some of the funniest in the film -- a brief and tearful monologue about how credit cards have hurt his trade since no one is carrying money anymore

Douglas is grand as the old-timer and Taylor sturdy in the role of the dynamic young manager. Miss Spaak is charming to look at but difficult to understand as she half whispers her halting English.