Hotel Imperial (1939)

78 mins | Drama | 17 February 1939

Director:

Robert Florey

Producer:

A. M. Botsford

Cinematographer:

William C. Mellor

Editor:

Chandler House

Production Designers:

Hans Dreier, Franz Bachelin

Production Company:

Paramount Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

Production on this film underwent many changes before it was finally completed. In early Jan 1936, this film began production under the title Invitation to Happiness, with Marlene Dietrich and Charles Boyer starring, and with a script written by Melchior Lengyel and John Van Druten. A HR production chart in mid-Jan shows that the title had been changed to I Loved a Soldier and the film was being produced by Ernst Lubitsch. Production continued under that title through 10 Feb, after which the film dropped out of the production charts, then reappeared on 16 Mar under the title Hotel Imperial, with a screenplay by Grover Jones. Henry Hathaway is listed in the chart as director and co-producer with Jones. By that time, Dietrich had been replaced by Margaret Sullavan, and Boyer was no longer in the cast. Other cast members at that point in production included Akim Tamiroff, Samuel S. Hinds, John Miljan, Ted Oliver, Nestor Aber, Siegfried Rumann , Harry Cording and Brandon Evans. The last production chart for Hotel Imperial in 1936 appeared on 23 Mar, and a news item in FD on 27 Mar stated that production was shut down when Sullavan broke her arm. According to a modern source, disagreements between Hathaway and Dietrich first caused the replacement of producer Benjamin Glazer by Lubitsch, then a re-write of the script and a title change to I Loved a Soldier. By Mar 1936, however, Lubitsch was no longer production chief at Paramount, and subsequent efforts to reunite Dietrich and Hathaway failed. Ultimately the old footage was discarded, ... More Less

Production on this film underwent many changes before it was finally completed. In early Jan 1936, this film began production under the title Invitation to Happiness, with Marlene Dietrich and Charles Boyer starring, and with a script written by Melchior Lengyel and John Van Druten. A HR production chart in mid-Jan shows that the title had been changed to I Loved a Soldier and the film was being produced by Ernst Lubitsch. Production continued under that title through 10 Feb, after which the film dropped out of the production charts, then reappeared on 16 Mar under the title Hotel Imperial, with a screenplay by Grover Jones. Henry Hathaway is listed in the chart as director and co-producer with Jones. By that time, Dietrich had been replaced by Margaret Sullavan, and Boyer was no longer in the cast. Other cast members at that point in production included Akim Tamiroff, Samuel S. Hinds, John Miljan, Ted Oliver, Nestor Aber, Siegfried Rumann , Harry Cording and Brandon Evans. The last production chart for Hotel Imperial in 1936 appeared on 23 Mar, and a news item in FD on 27 Mar stated that production was shut down when Sullavan broke her arm. According to a modern source, disagreements between Hathaway and Dietrich first caused the replacement of producer Benjamin Glazer by Lubitsch, then a re-write of the script and a title change to I Loved a Soldier. By Mar 1936, however, Lubitsch was no longer production chief at Paramount, and subsequent efforts to reunite Dietrich and Hathaway failed. Ultimately the old footage was discarded, and new production chief William LeBaron had an abbreviated script written for a more modestly-budgeted film. Italian actress Isa Miranda was imported to play the lead, and after testing such actors as Robert Preston, Ray Milland was given the role opposite her.
       Production resumed in late Oct 1938. Rudolph Forster is listed in the cast in Nov 1938 production charts, but his appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. During the week of 6 Dec 1938, shooting took place at the Paramount Ranch. Lajos Biró's play was also the source of a 1927 silent film, also called Hotel Imperial, directed by Mauritz Stiller and starring Pola Negri (see entry). The property has since been remade as a film many times, including Five Graves to Cairo (Paramount, 1943, see entry), directed by Billy Wilder and starring Franchot Tone, and the British release, Hotel Sahara (United Artists, 1951), directed by Ken Annakin and starring Yvonne DeCarlo. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
8 May 39
p. 3.
Film Daily
27 Mar 36
p. 8.
Film Daily
17 May 39
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Mar 36
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jan 36
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jan 36
p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Feb 36
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Oct 38
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Dec 38
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
9 May 39
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
12 May 39
p. 6.
Motion Picture Herald
31 Dec 38
p. 41.
Motion Picture Herald
13 May 39
p. 37, 40
New York Times
11 May 39
p. 31.
Time
22 May 39
p. 57.
Variety
10 May 39
p. 14.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Ernst Verebes
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Int dec
COSTUMES
Miss Miranda's cost
MUSIC
Mus dir
Mus score
Mus adv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Színmü négy felvonásban by Lajos Biró (Budapest, 1917).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"There's Something Magic Saying Nitchevo," music and lyrics by Frederick Hollander and Ralph Freed.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
I Loved a Soldier
Release Date:
17 February 1939
Production Date:
late October--early December 1938
Paramount Ranch, week of 6 December 1938
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
12 May 1939
Copyright Number:
LP8841
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
78
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
PCA No:
4827
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

By December 1916, in the middle of World War I, the little Galician town of Sucha has been taken three times by the Russians and four times by the Austrians. Just outside the town, Anna Warshawska, a Polish actress in a small traveling theatrical troupe, attends the funeral of her younger sister, Sonja, a girl of seventeen who committed suicide. To find out why Sonja killed herself, Anna takes Sonja's job as a chambermaid in the Hotel Imperial without identifying herself. The hotel is the headquarters for whatever army currently occupies the city. She is hired by the porter, Elias, a mildly patriotic Austrian, and the housekeeper Anton, who pretends to be crippled to avoid military service. When the town is again attacked by the Russians, the Austrians flee, and Elias and Anton change the menu and switch official portraits from the archduke to the czar. On cavalry patrol nearby, the exhausted Lieutenant Stephen Nemassy of the Second Hussars is nearly caught, but escapes by a mad dash behind enemy lines. Arriving at the hotel, he evades a Russian search by hiding in room twelve. Aware that Sonja's lover had stayed in the same room, Anna begins to suspect Nemassy of being the cause of Sonja's death. The Russians are led by General Videnko, a pompous artist, who decides to paint Anna. Nemassy is employed by Elias as a waiter, and after she learns there are two rooms numbered "12," Anna helps to conceal Nemassy's true identity. Kuprin, a Russian spy who uses the alias Von Alting in the Austrian army, visits Videnko to collect pay and deliver information. Meanwhile, Nemassy is arrested ... +


By December 1916, in the middle of World War I, the little Galician town of Sucha has been taken three times by the Russians and four times by the Austrians. Just outside the town, Anna Warshawska, a Polish actress in a small traveling theatrical troupe, attends the funeral of her younger sister, Sonja, a girl of seventeen who committed suicide. To find out why Sonja killed herself, Anna takes Sonja's job as a chambermaid in the Hotel Imperial without identifying herself. The hotel is the headquarters for whatever army currently occupies the city. She is hired by the porter, Elias, a mildly patriotic Austrian, and the housekeeper Anton, who pretends to be crippled to avoid military service. When the town is again attacked by the Russians, the Austrians flee, and Elias and Anton change the menu and switch official portraits from the archduke to the czar. On cavalry patrol nearby, the exhausted Lieutenant Stephen Nemassy of the Second Hussars is nearly caught, but escapes by a mad dash behind enemy lines. Arriving at the hotel, he evades a Russian search by hiding in room twelve. Aware that Sonja's lover had stayed in the same room, Anna begins to suspect Nemassy of being the cause of Sonja's death. The Russians are led by General Videnko, a pompous artist, who decides to paint Anna. Nemassy is employed by Elias as a waiter, and after she learns there are two rooms numbered "12," Anna helps to conceal Nemassy's true identity. Kuprin, a Russian spy who uses the alias Von Alting in the Austrian army, visits Videnko to collect pay and deliver information. Meanwhile, Nemassy is arrested for lacking proper identification papers and is sentenced to be shot by a firing squad. Learning that Nemassy was in room twenty-four and "Von Alting" was in room twelve, Anna uses her influence with Videnko to save Nemassy. Anna and Nemassy plan to escape during the Russian Christmas revels, but when Kuprin is brought in as a prisoner, Nemassy, unaware that Kuprin is a spy, feels it is his duty to stay and help a fellow officer. Before Anna can warn Nemassy about Kuprin, Nemassy reveals his true position to him and learns he is a spy. In the ensuing fight, Kuprin is fatally wounded, and Anna persuades him to approach the Austrian army as Von Alting and tell them their plans were betrayed by Kuprin, while she stays behind to divert the Russians by singing "Nitchevo." With his dying breath, Kuprin alerts the Austrians, but declares that Anna killed him. Videnko must now sentence her to death. Just in time, Nemassy leads an early morning Austrian attack on Sucha, expels the Russians and rescues Anna. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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