Hotel Imperial (1927)

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Pola Negri stars in a high melodrama!
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US / 77 minutes / bw / Paramount Dir: Mauritz Stiller Pr: Erich Pommer Scr: Jules Furthmann, Edwin Justus Mayer Story: Hotel Imperial (1917 play) by Lajos Biró Cine: Bert Glennon Cast: Pola Negri, James Hall, George Siegmann, Mickael Vavitch, Max Davidson, Otto Fries, Josef Swickard, Nicholas Soussanin.

hotel-imperial-0

The opening title of this intriguing silent movie sets the time and place:

“Somewhere in Galicia, March, 1915—when Austrian fought Russian on Austrian ground.”

This is worth remembering because, according to the Turner Classic Movies online database, the movie is set in Hungary. The same site shows a capsule review by Leonard Maltin, which summarizes the plot thus:

“As WW1 floods over the map of Europe, a squad of Austrian soldiers seeks sanctuary in a small village inn, only to find it occupied by enemy Russians. Chambermaid Negri holds the key to their survival.”

This is less worth remembering because, while it does bear some similarities to the movie’s plot, they’re no more than similarities. Also less worth remembering is that IMDB renames Vavitch’s character—calling him Tabakowitsch rather than Petroff—with the result that TCMDB and Wikipedia call him Tabakowitsch as well. I suspect he may have Continue reading

o/t: oh, it’s New Year, is it?

Many thanks to everyone whose visits and comments through 2014 have made it seem worth my while continuing with Noirish. The year has seen a steady growth in the site’s traffic; golly, but I felt as if I was channeling Mitt Romney when I typed that.

It’s not a feeling I much wish to revisit.

Whateffer, as they say in my homeland, I hope everyone who visits this site regularly, occasionally or even (and here I’m stretching what little human sympathies I have) <i>never</i> has a great 2015. It’d be good, too, if the world as a whole had a great 2015, but that would involve US politics somehow ridding itself of its corruption and beginning to act in the interests of the American people, and of the planet.

Here are the movies about which I posted essays on <i>Noirish</i> during 2014. I’d hoped that each title would link to the relevant page, but the gods of WordPress decided that This Was Not To Be. The list includes the movie about which I’ll be posting tomorrow — a spiffy Japanese neonoir that you owe it to yourself to see.

January
Secret, The (1997 TVM)
Shadow, The (1933)
Tiger Bay (1934)
Wenn es Nacht Wird auf der Reeperbahn (1967)
Woman’s Secret, A (1949)
East, The (2013)
After Alice (1999)
Amateur Crook (1937)
American Gangster (2007)
Black Hand, The: True Story of a Recent Occurrence in the Italian Quarter of New York (1906)
Dead Man Down (2013)
Fat Man, The (1951)
Fear is the Key (1972)
Flirting with Fate (1916)

February
Girl in Gold Boots (1968)
Hotel Berlin (1945)
Hotel Noir (2012)
Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948)
Love the Hard Way (2001/2003)
Morton Thompson’s Not as a Stranger (1955)
Night Train (2009 DTV)
Public Eye, The (1992)
Secret Six, The (1931)
Stark Fear (1962)
Teckman Mystery, The (1954)
Call, The (2013)

March
In Cold Blood (1967)
In Cold Blood (1996 TVM)
Capote (2005)
Infamous (2006)
Case of the Missing Heiress, The (1949)
Circus of Fear (1966)
Circus Queen Murder, The (1933)
Dark Light, The (1951)
Double Identity (1990 TVM)
Floater, The (1961 TVM)
Ellery Queen and the Murder Ring (1941)
Evidence of the Film, The (1913)
Fat Man, The: The Thirty-Two Friends of Gina Lardelli (1959 TVM)

April
Felicia’s Journey (1999)
Foreign Correspondent (1940)
Gangster Squad (2013)
Pris au Piège (1957 TVM)
Rikollinen Nainen (1952)
Stand Up Guys (2012)
Tiger Bay (1959)
White Trap, The (1959)
Drag-Net, The (1936)
Four Just Men, The (1939)

May
Anna-Liisa (1922)
Arsenal Stadium Mystery, The (1939)
Banker, The (1989)
Blood (2012)
Candlelight in Algeria (1944)
Convicted (1931)
Douce Violence (1962)
Engagement (2012)

June
Portrait of Jennie (1948)
Frosch mit der Maske, Der (1959)
Girl on the Run (1953)
Moderato Cantabile (1960)
Murder is News (1937)
Three Steps in the Dark (1953)
On Dangerous Ground (1951)
To Kill a Dead Man (1994)
Violent Moment (1959)
You Have to Run Fast (1961)

July
Young Captives, The (1959)
Spy in Black, The (1939)
Out of the Past (1947)
Awful Truth, The (1937)
Public Ransom, A (2014)
Alias Mary Smith (1932)
Baryshnya i Khuligan (1918)
Blind Alibi (1938)
Cage of Evil (1960)
Carrefour (1938)
Counselor, The (2013)

August
Emil und die Detektive (1931)
Bushwhackers, The (1952)
Game (2013)
Floating Dutchman, The (1952)
Geheimnis der Schwarzen Witwe, Das (1963)
Hell’s House (1932)
Something to Live For (1952)
Motel Blue (1997 DTV)
In a Lonely Place (1950)
Voice of Merrill, The (1952)
Ragazza del Lago, La (2007)

September
Ringer, The (1952)
Scarlet Web, The (1954)
Stolen (2009)
Stolen (2012)
Dødes Tjern, De (1958)
Suspect (1960)
Alibi, L’ (1937)
Anni (2011 DTV)

October
Black Widow (1954)
Boîte Noire, La (2005)
Marked Man (1996)
Confessions of a Psycho Cat (1968)
Crime Nobody Saw, The (1937)
Death at Broadcasting House (1934)
Down Three Dark Streets (1954)
Femme Fatale (2013)
Who Killed Aunt Maggie? (1940)
Girl who Dared, The (1944)

November
Hideout, The (1956)
Intruder, The (1933)
Labyrinth der Leidenschaften (1959)
Lizzie (1957)
Maison sous les Arbres, La (1971)
Manche et la Belle, Une (1957)
Midnight Episode (1950)
Missing Million, The (1942)
Night Boat to Dublin (1946)

December
Musta Jää (2007)
Phone Call from a Stranger (1952)
Pokrajina Št.2 (2008)
Premier Cercle, Le (2009)
Rossiter Case, The (1951)
Send for Paul Temple (1946)
Silenzio dei Prosciutti, Il (1994)
Sheng Dan Mei Gui (2013)
Special Investigator (1936)
Tantei Wa Bar ni Iru (2011)

Obviously most of these are borderline noir at best, and quite a few aren’t noir at all (but have some vague form of associational interest, even if only in my fevered brain); there’s a reason why this site has the title it does. I think I probably have the old/new balance about right, although this may be affected in the coming year as I attempt to cover more indies. Another factor is that I’d like to cover more of the noirish Bollywood movies; more non-anglophone movies in general.

I think what I need is two of me.

Hotel Berlin (1945)

vt Vicki Baum’s Hotel Berlin
US / 98 minutes / bw / Warner Dir: Peter Godfrey Pr: Louis F. Edelman Scr: Jo Pagano, Alvah Bessie Story: Hier Stand ein Hotel (1943; vt Hotel Berlin; vt Hotel Berlin ’43; vt Berlin Hotel; vt Here Stood a Hotel) by Vicki Baum Cine: Carl Guthrie Cast: Faye Emerson, Helmut Dantine, Raymond Massey, Andrea King, Peter Lorre, Alan Hale, George Coulouris, Henry Daniell, Peter Whitney, Helene Thimig, Steven Geray, Kurt Kreuger, Frank Reicher, Richard Tyler, Paul Panzer, Wolfgang Zilzer.

In some ways a companion piece to CASABLANCA (1942), but set in a swanky hotel in Berlin during the final months of the war rather than the somewhat more bohemian environs of Rick’s Café Américain, this surprisingly neglected movie has strengths of its own, not least an electrifying performance from Peter Lorre in a subsidiary role.

The Gestapo has deduced that Dr. Martin Richter (Dantine), an escapee from Dachau, has taken refuge in the Hotel Berlin, and its officers are combing the place in search of him. Also at the hotel are various high-ranking Nazis, including General Arnim von Dahnwitz (Massey) who, although renowned as the butcher of Kharkov, has recently participated in an unsuccessful coup against Hitler; all the other conspirators have suicided or been executed, and even von Dahnwitz’s old and dear friend Baron von Stetten (Daniell) reckons the man should kill himself before the Gestapo hauls him in. Von Dahnwitz, however, believes there’s a chance for him and his mistress, celebrated actress Lisa (or Liesl, as she’s sometimes called in dialogue) Dorn (King), to escape to Sweden.

Hotel Berlin - Raymond Massey as Gen Arnim von Dahnwitz

Raymond Massey as the hapless Gen Arnim von Dahnwitz.

The fugitive Martin Richter has a network of allies among the hotel wait-staff. One of these, Fritz Renn (Reicher), is soon arrested, but not before he has equipped Martin with a waiter’s coat. Fritz believes that, if Martin can contrive to be serving in Lisa’s suite during the search, the chances are that the searchers, dazzled by her fame, will overlook him. The plan works, although Lisa becomes convinced Martin is a Gestapo spy. Another significant ally is Bellboy #6 (Tyler), a child with courage and fortitude beyond his years, the son of underground leader Walter Baumler (Zilzer).

Hotel Berlin - Richter (Dantine) and Prof Koenig

The fugitive Martin Richter (Helmut Dantine) and the world-weary turncoat Professor Koenig (Peter Lorre).

The resident of the room next to Lisa’s suite is one-time Nobel prizewinner Professor Johannes Koenig (Lorre), who Continue reading