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Three years before the blockbuster hit "Airport", Warner Bros. brought another big Arthur Hailey novel to the screen with 1967's HOTEL.

Based in New Orleans but rather obviously filmed mostly on the WB backlot, it's an old fashioned tale of all the folks staying at the St. Gregory Hotel.

Overseeing the guests is Peter McDermott (the great Rod Taylor in one of his best roles), the hotel manager. He is under plenty of pressure this weekend, as a flamboyant, potential new owner O'Keefe (Kevin McCarthy) is pulling out all the stops to get the hotel under his wing.

O'Keefe is accompanied by his mistress Jeanne (the beautiful Catherine Spaak) who has plenty of designs on McDermott.

A Count and Countess with a secret (Merle Oberon & Michael Rennie) are in one suite while Karl Malden sneaks in and out of plenty of rooms as thief Keycase Milne.

Melvyn Douglas is the cantankerous, racist current owner of the hotel, hesitant to let go of the reins to McDermott or O'Keefe.

The book is one of my all-time favorites as Hailey balances all these characters and cleverly brings them all together in the final chapters.

The film version isn't quite that deft, but its still a lot of fun in a big-cast, big-budget sixties style. Taylor and Spaak are both terrific, as is Richard Conte as the house detective with some issues of his own.

Karl Malden seems to think he is in a comedy, acting broadly in a performance so big it seems odd coming from a talented actor.

That aside, it's worth checking into HOTEL, it's retro 60's fun that gets a B.

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