Jonesin’ for mo’ “Mad Men“? Yeah, me, too. I couldn’t help but think often of the show while checking out Warner Archive‘s burn-on-demand release of the 1967 epic “Hotel.” Boasting a similar look, feel and cavalier love of carcinogens, the film is not exactly classic, but it’s well-remembered.
Based on the same-named Arthur Hailey novel and predecessor of the cheesy ABC TV series of the 1980s, this lavish production takes place almost entirely inside the luxurious, exclusive St. Gregory hotel in New Orleans. The place is huge “ like shopping mall/cruise ship/airport huge “ and managed by the Don Draper-ish Rod Taylor.
The film nearly qualifies as an anthology, veering from one plot to another involving various employees and customers. As the aging, crabby owner who misses the good ol’ days and is in danger of losing his prized palace, Melvyn Douglas brings to mind Robert Morse’s portrayal of Bert Cooper on “Mad Men.”
In the gorgeous ladies department, there’s a bitchy duchess (Merle Oberon) and a young, lonely French beauty with the eyes of a doe (Catherine Spaak). Kevin McCarthy is a businessman who plays the bongos on his belly, while Karl Malden is a thief who pilfers keys by any means necessary to enter rooms “ even as people sleep “ and steal their valuables.
Oh, and there are hookers. But not the skanky hookers of today “ the classy looking ones who could give Christina Hendricks a run for her underwire.
The stories don’t exactly all gel into a nice, tight package, but at least it has the foresight to climax in an elevator crash and rescue. Although dated in every way, some lines eerily still ring true (“What the public wants today is an efficient economic package”).
At 125 minutes, the melodrama is more than a little long in the tooth, but when your parents say “Hollywood doesn’t make them like they used to,” this is the kind of star-studded, large-scale chunk of glitz to which they so fondly refer. “Rod Lott