The central story revolves arond the future of the St. Gregory, a posh but aging and debt-ridden hotel in New Orleans. Its elderly owner, Warren Trent (Melvyn Douglas), has a standing offer from developers who want the real estate, but not the hotel. The other option is to sell to hotel magnate Curtis O'Keefe (Kevin McCarthy), who wants to transform the St. Gregory from an upscale hotel into a very commercial one. Neither choice appeals to Trent, so his general manager Peter McDermott (Rod Taylor) tries to put together his own deal.
|Merle Oberon as the Duchess.|
Screenwriter Wendell Mayes (Anatomy of a Murder, Von Ryan's Express) simplifies and downsizes Hailey's novel. In the book, Peter has a checkered past and is interested in Trent's secretary (who's missing from the movie). Mayes jettisons a major subplot involving an attempted rape, adds the romance between Peter and O'Keefe's girlfriend, and alters the climax. Undoubtedly, major alterations were required to keep the running time at two hours. Still, too much time is spent on Malden's key thief, whose every appearance is accompanied by a playful jazz theme that becomes unbearable.
|Rod Taylor as the hotel's manager.|
|French actress Catherine Spaak.|
Coincidentally, Spaak and Karl Malden appeared in another movie together six years later: Dario Argento's suspense film Cat O'Nine Tails. As pointed out in other sources, there's another bit of trivia involving Malden. After his thief discovers a stolen wallet only contains a few dollars, he blames his bad luck on the growing popularity of credit cards. Years later, Malden would make a famous series of commercials for American Express, advising consumers not to leave home without their credit card.
Eighteen years after the release of Hotel, Aaron Spelling--already flourishing with the similar series The Love Boat and Fantasy Island--produced a TV series based on Hailey's novel. James Brolin played the manager of the St. Gregory, which was now located in San Francisco. Other series regulars during the show's five-year run included Connie Selleca, Shari Belafonte, and Anne Baxter.